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Easy, Inexpensive, Portable, But Safe, Outdoor Baby Enclosures

Discussion in 'Tortoise Enclosures' started by Tom, Aug 3, 2011.

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  1. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I just finished these yesterday. Each pen is 4x8' and I put three babies in each pen. I love how they turned out and it was really easy. They still need three more things done.
    1. I'm going to attach a bunch of old palm fronds for shade.
    2. I'm going to add one more pen and then put hinges in between each pair of tops.
    3. I'm going to churn up the dirt, add some plain, additive free soil, and plant some weed seed and leafy greens in there for them to munch on and hide in.

    Here's the usual play by play:
    First I laid out my bricks. I tried to pick a relatively flat spot for this and keep them level and straight.
    [​IMG]

    Next I built a simple frame using pressure treated 2x4's.
    [​IMG]

    Then I added the wire mesh and fastened it to the frame with deck screws and fender washers.
    [​IMG]

    One down, two to go...
    [​IMG]

    All done.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
  2. AshleyJones

    AshleyJones Member

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    Wow that does look easy, I just built an outdoor enclosure for my babies and it cost me a butt load and alot of my husbands time, wish I would of thought of this! LOL
    puffy137 likes this.
  3. Tropical Torts

    Tropical Torts Member 5 Year Member

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    Wow very neat Tom. How much did the cinder blocks cost?
  4. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Those are slumptone blocks and they are $1.57 each at Home Depot. The nice thing is that they last forever and can be moved, reconfigured or reused at will.
    Darwien likes this.
  5. HLogic

    HLogic Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Nice job, Tom, but that is not the proper technique for the use of a level! :p
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  6. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    As you can probably tell from the look of the bricks, I didn't use the level at all when I laid them out. :) I just needed something to prop up the lid for a photo and that was handy... haha.
  7. kbaker

    kbaker Member 5 Year Member

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    What's your idea on separating the groups of three? Why not take out some of the middle blocks and let them all mingle through out the whole area?

    Too bad they need the cover. It would be nice to just put them all in the larger pen that the smaller pens are in.:D
  8. SILVERSTAR

    SILVERSTAR New Member

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    another cheap way if you lack a yard like me and only have a fenced patio thats concrete then you can sustitue wit a small kiddie pool so they can still get outside graze time,if you plant it up in there that is.[hr]
    that was advice for people like me that live in townhouses or apartments or simply dont have much more than a patio.
  9. jackrat

    jackrat Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Damn good job,Tom!
  10. Jacob

    Jacob New Member

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    This Shall Help Many New Parents:)
  11. CtTortoiseMom

    CtTortoiseMom New Member

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  12. SnakeyeZ

    SnakeyeZ Member

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    Nice!

    Is that your property? Looks huge... I love the large brick wall surrounding the yard.
  13. Madkins007

    Madkins007 Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    I like it a lot!
  14. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    The area where these pens are is inside the adult pen. Its 7000 square feet. I'd lose those babies in minutes. There are far too many baby size nooks and crannies. I have no problem finding the biggun's, but those tiny hatchlings would disappear down an old gopher hole or something.

    They are in groups of three because that's this year experiments. The "Humid Chamber Group" (inspired by your set ups:)), The Bird Brooder Group (I ended this experiment early), and the VitaShell group. After this year's experiments are done I will remove the middle walls and it will be one 12x8' pen, or maybe 2 6x8s. In actuality, I've been thinking about this one for a long time too. I'm planning a big tortoise facility and this type of simple, relatively inexpensive design will work great on a much larger scale. If I took the extra time to level out the ground and make the lids fit flush, I could permanently house any Testudo species or just divide the pens up however I needed to for baby leopards, sulcatas and such. It would be really easy to make long runs of pens all 8 feet wide and as long as you have room for. It would be pretty easy to put a few divider blocks in place, but not make a solid wall and go to 16' wide. If I did every other brick, it would support the wire frame lids just fine, but the torts could move about freely. Just imagine pulling out a few of the middle divider bricks between the current set up here. This lids are very easy to maneuver from any side, but heavy enough that they can't be moved by dogs or other predators, or the wind. The mesh is fairly stout and 1x2". The applications are limitless. I can go as big as I want in multiples of 4x8'. Prior to this I was planning a giant chain link enclosure with a chain link roof and building the pens inside it. Have you seen the price of chain link lately? Not gonna work. The one problem with these is that the height restriction prevents planting any good size shade plants or bushes inside the pen. Anything that grows over a foot tall will have to be planted around the outside edges of the pens and I'll have to watch which way the sun moves wherever I put these pens.

    Anyhow, I'm very excited about the whole concept. Just like my underground shelters, this is sort of a test run to try it out, and discover any problems.
    Trigonometry likes this.
  15. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    So I pulled the covers off and raked all the loose stuff out.
    [​IMG]

    Then I used a shovel and churned up the dirt while mixing in a bunch of this:
    [​IMG]

    Chewy would not leave me alone. She kept climbing in the pen and was sure she should be involved in the project. She showed no interest when I built the pen or while I've been using them all week.
    [​IMG]

    Here are the seeds that went in.
    [​IMG]

    My job takes me to all sorts of far away places and when I'm there I collect weed seeds. Dandelions, mallow, and in this case plantain. I separated the seeds from the little pods that they are attached to and put a bunch of that in there too.
    [​IMG]

    Here it is all done. I followed the directions on the seed packets, so hopefully it will work. This is a first for me. I'll keep you all posted IF and when it starts to sprout.
    [​IMG]


    Most of the time when farmers grow these types of things, they harvest them and then disc up the soil so they can plant the next crop. What happens if I just keep cutting off of the plants and leave the roots in? Will it just keep producing? Or if the torties eat it down to the base, but leave the root. Will it grow a new head?
    MelC, MadieM and puffy137 like this.
  16. maggie3fan

    maggie3fan Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    They will stay healthy and produce for quite a while. Just cut off leafs tho, don't cut the whole head...and if the babies eat off the whole head and leave the root it will grow again...Nice job!
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  17. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Thanks Maggie. I just spent the whole morning doing the same thing in Leopard Land in my back yard. Plus I put in a bunch of little Gazanias. African flowers for African torts. I love it. Now they just need some elephant bush...
  18. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    After I had planted several rows of different kinds of lettuces, I discovered that lettuce is a cool weather crop, and growing it in warm weather causes it to be bitter. I still fed it to the young tortoises, though, mixing it with grape and mulberry leaves. They ate it, but it really was bitter. What I would do was to go down a row with my scissors and clip off the top several inches of the plant. It would keep growing and was ready for re-harvesting n about a week.
    puffy137 and sobeit65 like this.
  19. FranklinAndTara

    FranklinAndTara New Member

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    We have Garden boxes and the lettuice has been growing for about 3-5 months. some of the plants will re-seed. we used the little peat pod seed starters, they are great! we start the plants in a little green house then transplant into the garden. the pods make it super easy to move them too because the roots n all are in a little sack, theyre super convenient! we also used a vegan organic fertilizer(dunno if thats safe for torts) the first 2 weeks the plants were in the garden. as long as they are kept moist they should last a while. we trim our lettuices(like 5 types) 2times a week... and ended up just letting the torts graze that box and it keeps growing. [hr]
    I also order most of my seeds on amazon.com theres a seller called "hirts gardens" and shipping is like 4.49 for upto like a pound... something really rediculous like that... as long as they are all bought in the same order.
  20. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Great info. Thanks all.

    If my summer lettuce comes out bitter, I have no doubt that the adults will devour it, even if they babies didn't like it.

    BTW, I don't eat lettuce, so how would I know if it was bitter or not?
    MalayTotis and Chantel like this.
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