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My Best Night Box Design Yet

Discussion in 'Tortoise Enclosures' started by Tom, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    After much thought about what worked and what I wanted to improve over previous attempts, here is the latest version with a step by step pictorial on how I did it. It is time for my 2010 South African herd to move outside. They are moving into a 16x20' completely closed in enclosure. The enclosure is a wooden frame enclosed top to bottom with welded wire. It has a wire roof and the wire extends 18" down into the ground. The actual night box is 4x8x2'. I found a mini oil-filled heater to heat it with. The heater is on a thermostat and will be set to 80 for about half of the year and 70 over the warmer months.

    Here is the lid. You can see the insulation in place.
    [​IMG]

    Here is the plywood cover going over the insulation in the lid. The lid fits on top of the box and is hinged. There will be weatherstripping all around the top and the lip on the lid keeps the rain out of the box. You can see a finished lid for a second box in the background.
    [​IMG]

    Here is the bottom. Notice the door notch and how that will fit in later.
    [​IMG]

    Insulation in the bottom. All the insulation is 1.5" thick and has the shiny mylar foil side pointing to the outside. Don't know if that matters much, but thats how I did it.
    [​IMG]

    Insulation on the floor all covered up.
    [​IMG]

    Here the front and back are attached. Notice the door taking shape. Since 9 animals will initially share this, and as they get older they will get bigger, I went kinda big with the door at 26x16". This way one of them won't be able to sit in the doorway and block all the others in or out, and later, when they reach adult size, they will easily fit in and out of this door.
    [​IMG]

    Another view of the front with the sides going up.
    [​IMG]

    Here the side wall insulation is in place and about to be covered up. This box is also double caulked to keep out any cold drafts on those below freezing winter nights. The only air movement will be from the door, or when I open the lid.
    [​IMG]

    All buttoned up.
    [​IMG]

    Here goes the front insulation.
    [​IMG]

    The front insulation is all covered up here. The 2x4 blocks there will support a 2x10" water tub holding shelf. Having containers of water inside will keep the humidity up in the night box, and act as a bit of a heat sink. This technique has been working very well in my underground sulcata night box.
    [​IMG]

    Here's a top view showing the area where the heater will live, the weather stripping in place, the door flaps, and the 2x4 in the back that the lid hinges attach to.
    [​IMG]

    Here is the front with paint and door flaps and water shelves in place.
    [​IMG]

    Here is the door. I will carve out the dirt where the door/ramp hits the ground so it sits flush. One "weak" spot of previous designs was the simple plywood door. I went to great time and trouble to super insulate my night boxes, but then just used thin plywood to cover the door holes. This time the door shares the same 1.5" insulation as the rest of the box. Door open:
    [​IMG]

    Door Closed:
    [​IMG]


    Here you can see the heater installed, the metal heat shield above it, the water tubs for humidity on the shelves, and my purple shoe box that holds all my electrical stuff.
    [​IMG]

    Here are some of the babies enjoying their bermuda grass bedding.
    [​IMG]


    Here is a wide view showing some of the enclosure. The empty wooden box in the lower right foreground of the pic is their 4x8' shade table/planter box. I will be filling it and planting leopard tortoise food in their in the next few days.
    [​IMG]


    One more view of the same thing from the other side.
    [​IMG]



    Well that's it. Tell me what you think. :)
  2. MasterOogway

    MasterOogway New Member

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    This is great! Thanks!
  3. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    I like it a lot. Thanks for the pictorial and commentary. Will help a lot of people out. Like me:D
    [hr]
    One question. Do you treat the floor with anything to keep urine and poop from soaking in and soiling?
  4. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    And did you caulk the seams to keep urine from flowing down into the insulation?
  5. LLLReptile

    LLLReptile Active Member TFO Sponsor 5 Year Member

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    That looks extremely well built and sturdy - I'm sure it'll last quite a long time and suit the tortoises well!

    Very nice!

    -Jen
    Russell the Russian likes this.
  6. bigred

    bigred Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    It looks great and looks like you have a good space for them. I have been thinking about building an insulated box since your last post from the last one you built. I will need to build another soon enough, thanks for the step by step
  7. N2TORTS

    N2TORTS Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    LQQKING good TOM!!!!!

    ....Good choice in your cordless too! :D
  8. tortadise

    tortadise Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Looks great man. Good stuff. Makita is good stuff too.
  9. bigred

    bigred Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I think this is going to turn into a tool thread. I have the same chop saw, got it for 50.00 used its worked great for along time
  10. N2TORTS

    N2TORTS Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    one of the best! :D
  11. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Barb, I don't treat the inside with anything. Its just plain plywood. They poop and pee and it dries and I periodically rake it all out. I have boxes that have been going this way for several years now and no issues. I thought I'd have to replace floors after awhile, but they just don't seem to rot or have any issues.

    And yes the seems are sealed both outside and inside the insulation. I sealed the seams before any insulation went in. Then I put in the insulation, covered it and sealed again.
    [hr]
    Those came as a two for one set. Impact drill and a standard. They are super strong and the battery lasts a long time. I bought the Makita over other brands because they sponsor Supercross and Motocross, but I am also SUPER happy with the product. I bought a set for the ranch and liked it so much, I went and bought another set for myself.

    Bigred, I've chopped hundreds of boards with that saw. Love it. It was one of the cheapest ones available, but it has sure stood the test of time and still functions flawlessly.
    Angie Robinson likes this.
  12. EKLC

    EKLC Member

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    Looks like you've thought of everything, nice job Tom
  13. DeanS

    DeanS SULCATA OASIS 5 Year Member

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    And...take my word for it folks...they look (much) better in person! And they are HEAVY!
  14. Dizisdalife

    Dizisdalife Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Very nice job. I like the improvements. I am curious, why is the heater on the floor instead of on a shelf as you have done in the past? And, do you believe that the oil filled heater is a better choice than radiated panels and heated mats? Gotta build a bigger box for Chuck soon. He is growing so fast.
  15. Lasciels Toy

    Lasciels Toy Member

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    Damn good work, the concrete wall will probably crumble before that box falls apart. Those ryobi chop saws will take a beating, that's for sure. I'm to spoiled from using slider miters for trim work >.< made them change out that exact chop saw for one hehe. And since we're on tool talk here. Those steel saw horses, never touch them again. I was rushing at work one day, caring them with the legs fold up but facing down. As I was walking through the sand with them, the legs dropped out and pinned four of my fingers on each hand and the legs dug into the sand. Let me tell you, pain so intense I went dumb and could figure out what to do to make the pain stop. Eventually I just crumpled to my knees and managed to slip my fingers out. No damage or broken bones but good lord did it hurt. So ya.....just personally, I never want to see those things again lol.

    And one suggestion, but you might have already thought of it. If you raised the cover around the heater and inch or 2, you would allow air to circulate better. heating the cold air as it sinks down and under the cover. Just a thought.
  16. Thalatte

    Thalatte Member

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    with the box being insulated does it also keep it cooler on hot days?
  17. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I like the oil heaters best because because even though they pull more power when on, they only pop on for a short while two or three times a night, vs. running 24/7 in winter on my heat mats and RHPs. Because they heat the oil and the oil stays hot long after the heating element kicks off, they keep things much warmer for less electricity. They also do a much better job of warming the air inside the box.

    This oil heater is on the floor because this box is only 24" tall instead of 48" like the other one. There is not enough height inside to put it up on a shelf. I built this one shorter because the extra two feet in my taller box is just wasted unusable space. That means I have to heat double the air and it also takes quite a lot more lumber to make it that tall. Finally the taller box is so heavy that it took 5 people to carry it into place with the lid off. This smaller box was relatively easy for two of us to carry into place.

    All my boxes will be two feet high and use oil heaters, from now on.
    [hr]
    I won't know that until summer. :D

    It sure seems like it will at least take longer to heat up. All the insulation and layers help to resist temperature change, so it should work both ways, in theory. I use sprinklers and misters to keep them cool in summer too.
  18. patilraosaheb

    patilraosaheb New Member

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    Awesome.. Will think modular from this design.
  19. Cowboy_Ken

    Cowboy_Ken Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Looks almost as great as me Tom. That's a fantastic design/thread and I think it should be stickied for future reference for those folks that just gotta have that cute little baby.
    Have you made a second one as a guest room for me yet?
    Angel Carrion and Randi like this.
  20. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE

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    what purpose do the bricks around the box serve?
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