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Preparing to go outdoors


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#1 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 01:26 PM

I am starting my outdoor enclosure tomorrow (weather permitting) and am having a purpose built heated house with cold frame attached for them to come and go as they please in a secure garden.

My question is - as they have been used to temps ranging from 20-35 degrees how do I prepare them for a change in temperatures when they go outside in May when it might not be so warm?

Thanks Pat x

#2 Guest_brucefairweather_*

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 06:07 PM

this is my worry to.i think they will get enough heat in the heated house then come out to look for food.then go back in for a heat.as long as we dont feed them inside they will have to go outside for the food surly they wont starve them selfs!!!

bruce

#3 Guest_wizzasmum_*

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 06:15 PM

It may take some time for them to get used to it, but remember if it is a sunny day they will be far warmer than you are as they are designed to warm up in the sun.

#4 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 06:28 PM

Glad its not just me Bruce! :unsure: I think that when it is finished I will do some min / max temps to make sure it is not too different from their cosy corner in the house!

Just need to order my heater and light for inside the small house which will be on a thermometer and timer.

Sooo many things to think about! :thinking:

Pat x

#5 Guest_Dawn_*

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Posted 04 April 2010 - 09:46 AM

They adjust to outside temps really quickly. For the first few weeks I have the heat on in the shed for a few hours in the morning and a few in the afternoon. As Bruce said if you make sure they are fed outdoors they will soon wander out for it. Mine love it and I quite often find them outdoors when its raining and or a bit chilly.

In their shed I just have the combi bulb, I have never bothered with thermometers or background heat, but may get a tubular heater for overnight...we'll see! :rolleyes: Up until a 2 yrs ago I never even had heat out there and they were just fine!

#6 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 11:15 AM

Dawn,
So you have the same type of heat/uv bulb as indoors? It would certainly make it cheaper as I can put the one outdoors from their indoor table! The reason I was going to put in a small heater linked to a thermostat was incase it fell below 15 degrees, however thinking about it - if it does over a few days, I will bring them in before they start digging themselves in!

Started the outdoor pen at the weekend while my other half was playing golf - hopefully be finished in a couple of weeks so that I can start taking outdoor temps.

Pat x

#7 Guest_Ozric_*

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 12:17 PM

Dawn has used a combined heat and UV lamp in her shed sucessfully but I couldn't make this work for me. The space I had was quite small and there was a danger of having too much heat if the sun came out. Wooden structures can warm up very quickly in the sun. This was when I was using a kennel.

Now I have the fancy coldframe I'm not using a combined bulb in there for the same reason - the temperature could get too high when the sun comes out. I use a halogen lamp on a dimming thermostat so that a part of the coldframe is always 32C during a good part of the day. This works very well for me because when the sun comes out the lamp turns itself off.

The dimming thermostat is the most expensive part of this method of keeping them warm, the actual bulbs are cheap. I'm a bit more cautious than some of us on here about temperatures and I don't like them to be sitting in the cold outside. Its worth saying that I get a lot of dull and wet weather here and lower temps than most of you. Some of my tortoises are really small as well and they get cold quicker than bigger ones.

Pat, I think its best to have some areas which are not grass because that easily gets wet and cold. If you have a free draining soil this will help a lot. Cold on its own isn't neessarily a huge problem but being wet as well is not good for them if its hapenning a lot. I feel they must have a safe dry place to hide in if they want it.

What I do is to have food plants in the outside area and I don't feed them in the coldframe. So they have to go out to look for food! If its a bad day they soon go back into the warm. If you have a coldframe this will get warm very quickly when the sun shines on it.

#8 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 05:33 PM

Oz Thanks for that - perhaps my combi bulb will get too hot afterall.

Good advice re grass / damp, the house and cold frame are on 18 inch built up sand/soil/gravel combination which is contained within a rock garden. I will also, as you suggested, not feed them in there. Might put a small heater in linked to a thermostat for night time temp drops and another one with a bulb timed to come on early morning and late afternoon. Can timers work with thermostats?

Pat

#9 Guest_Ozric_*

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 05:58 PM

Hi Pat, yes you can use a thermostat and a timer together. I think your rock garden idea sounds excellent.

I use a ceramic heat emitter for night times which is on a thermostat. Some keepers say they don't need any heat at night but I find it re-assuring to know it's there and having it means I don't need to bring them indoors if we are going to have a cooler night. I have quite a lot of those! Sandy though, down in Kent enjoys more balmy nights and a lot depends on your local weather.

What I try to do is to have everything in place so that I don't need to bring them indoors once they go out.

The ceramic heat emitter I use is a 100watt with thermostatic control. I don't use a timer on it and I set it for about 13C. If the temp goes below that during the day then personally I would want the heater to come on. 13C is well below the temp at which a hermann is active and I don't like them to get colder than this. Lots of keepers take another view and they are happy for their torts to experience lower temperatures and have no problems.

The way I look at it, temperatures below 13C are really quite unusual during the summer in the south of France which is where my tortoises would be. I already expect them to cope with daytime temperatures which a lot of the time are much below what they would have 'at home'.

#10 Guest_Dawn_*

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 06:35 PM

Hi Pat, sorry for delay in replying!

Yes as Jon quite rightly said, I use my combi bulb set up indoors as well as outdoors. My shed is 5ft (w) x 4ft (h) x 3ft (d) or thereabouts! So I can get away with using the combi bulb.

Below I have posted some pics of my outdoor enclosure. Though it will be changed slightly this year (as it does every year!) I don't have any additional heat and from May I won't have the heat on at all outdoors unless we get a cold spell. Like Sandy, I am in Surrey and get better weather than most. Plus the enclosure is shelted on 3 sides and its in a suntrap where it gets the sun more or less all day (well, at least it does when it deciedes to make an appearence!) I am hoping to sort out the enclosure this weekend and get them out there then as they are going mad being indoors. Like Jon, once mine are outside they will stay out until prep for hibernation later in the year.

As I previously said, they didn't have heat outdoors until the year before last and stayed out from May until September with no problems.

#11 Guest_Dawn_*

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 06:42 PM

Ooops! Forgot the pics... :blush:

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#12 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 09:51 PM

Hi Pat,

In one of my set ups I have a ceramic heat bulb that is thermostatically controlled. It has some sort of (light?) sensor on it (sorry not very technical) and I can programme it to come on at one temperature at night time (I have it set at 14C but as it is in the house it isn't used unless we are away in winter) and switch off if it reaches 32C in the day time. I can only just make out the word 'climate' on it but if would be of use I can see if the box is in the attic?
Reading back this isn't very informative at all!! Oh well, I meant well. :rolleyes:

Paula x

#13 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 07:53 PM

Hi Thanks for all the responses and nice pics Dawn, they certainly wouldnt get bored with so many places to explore! My enclosure within the garden will be quite small compared to others. The house will be approx. 550mm wide x 400mm x 750 high with a glass coldframe attached to it. All fully insulated so I think the dimmer thermostat option will work for night time with a daylight bulb just to come on if it dull (not sure how this would work or what sensor I need ) Paula, I am not technical either! :rolleyes:

They have been out for a couple of hours over the past couple of days - the sheltered and sunny end of my garden was quite hot and I put them out for an explore before coming in which they loved. Their house is not finished yet but am getting the rest of the garden done prior to it being fitted. All exciting stuff!!

Happy gardening everybody it promises to be a good weekend!
Pat x

#14 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 10:39 AM

Final (I think) decisions made on outdoor heating / lighting options!

In their house which measures approx. 50 x 50 x 700 high I will be fitting a 1ft tubular greenhouse heater fitted with a thermostat (which looks like a central heating thermostat) which I will set at 15 degrees.

In the attached coldframe I will have a daylight UV compact bulb which will come on from 7 ish in the morning (it gets natural sunlight from around 10 am) until 8 pm at night. I want this linked to a timer for the 12 hours, but only to come on before the sun comes out or if it is a dull day. I am sure there must be a product out there which does this linking both time and brightness???

They will have access to a well planted area to encourage them to go out and the coldframe will have UVB emitting plastic.

I have spent more time and effort in getting this right that I have my own house alterations!!! :rolleyes:

Pat x

#15 Guest_Hettie_*

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 02:21 PM


Hi Pat,

I'm just at the same stage as you... I think I've got it... then I haven't! I started writing this post to explain what we were doing, and then realised I'm not quite there either!!

The time bit is easy, you can buy those plugs for a few pounds which will let whatever is plugged in be controlled, but the bit I am unsure of is the combined bulbs... I thought there is a problem with them if they are switched on and off regularly. Did it make them likely to 'blow' if they were switched back on within 20? minutes of being switched off?

Paula x

#16 Guest_Dawn_*

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 03:23 PM

I have my combi bulbs on a timer switch, though I think Pats looking more for a temp control - like the thermostat you can get for uv tubes?

I have to say I dont put my lights on timers all the time outdoors - I leave them of and switch them on only if we have a few cold days and I notice the torts not waking up. For the most part even on dull days they seem to get up and go out cos although theres not bright sunshine its normally still warm.

#17 Guest_Pat_*

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 04:46 PM

Hi Dawn

Thanks for that - I think what I might do then is make sure their house has everything so that I can add electrics to it at a later date. I was worried really about drops in temperature at night - one of mine digs down as soon as the sun goes in! I could imagine not seeing her for days! But will see how it goes.

Paula - the dilemas are endless arent they!? It is great to have access to the world wide web - but too many sites with sooo much information! :blink:

My biggest last choice was what outdoor house to provide - the dog kennel idea didnt work for what I wanted - I have now settled for a beehive compost bin which I am going to adapt and insulate building my coldframe onto it. I could just do with Tommy Walsh coming to show me how to do it! xx :LOL: :rolleyes:

Will put picks up when it is finished.

Pat x

#18 Guest_Dawn_*

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 05:02 PM

I can't wait, mine will finally be going outdoors next weekend :D




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