ANOTHER Night Box Thread...

Dave S.

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Hey Tom. A friend and I are just finishing up building this 3 ft x2 ft house for my Desert Tortoise that I will be adopting soon. Bought a Zoo-Med Habitat Heater pad for the interior which I will probably mount to the wall or ceiling.
Going to lay linoleum floor tiles in the inside(along with insulation) and was wondering if I need to lay a substrate(hay/???) on the floor of this house for the tortoise's comfort?
Suggestions? I live on the CA West coast and it really doesn't get as cold at night as other areas of the US.
Thanks.
-Dave
 

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Tom

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Looks great Dave. A heated box is a great idea if you live anywhere near the coast.

The ZooMed heat mats won't be effective on the ceiling or the wall. They don't throw heat that far. Further, I don't care for the ZooMed ones because they are copies of other people's better work, and they don't have the built in redundant safeties that the Kane mats have. If you can still return it, I would.

Have you already got a thermostat to run whatever heat you use?

I don't think you "need" substrate, but if there is no heat mat on the floor, some bermuda grass hay or orchard grass hay might be nice. No reason you couldn't use dirt, or some fine grade orchid bark either.

Are there plans for a door and door flaps too?
 

Dave S.

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Huntington Beach, California
Hi Tom. Yes we're installing the door today. It's a draw-bridge and I will attach the clear mat curtain on the interior of the door as well.
I plugged in the heat mat last night and it wasn't too hot(good or bad) and I might consider just leaving it on the floor, hence the floor substrate question.
I've been reading on the forum about people using Timothy Hay as floor substrate. I was just curious because I know desert torts are burrowers and would assume they need to have "substrate" surrounding them for warmth and comfort especially during hibernation.

We this house we built is extremely airtight(other than door) and am a bit concerned about how hot it will get in the daytime. I'm planning on staining a Dark Walnut(for esthetic purposes-I'm a graphic designer) and the roof is asphalt black roofing sheets(7) that HomeDepot was kind enough to give to me for FREE!!! Plus, I haven't installed the interior insulation sheets yet! My builder friend was concerned so that he suggested drilling holes under roof for extra ventilation. Suggestions?

What heating pad(s) and thermostat system do you recommend?
I'm not an electrician and have no outdoor outlets in the backyard so I have to figure out a way to route cords to my garage outlets. Maybe place on a timer and thermostat controller to turn on at night and regulate temp of pad.

Thanks again for all your help Tom!

-Dave
 

Tom

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Hi Tom. Yes we're installing the door today. It's a draw-bridge and I will attach the clear mat curtain on the interior of the door as well.
I plugged in the heat mat last night and it wasn't too hot(good or bad) and I might consider just leaving it on the floor, hence the floor substrate question.
I've been reading on the forum about people using Timothy Hay as floor substrate. I was just curious because I know desert torts are burrowers and would assume they need to have "substrate" surrounding them for warmth and comfort especially during hibernation.

We this house we built is extremely airtight(other than door) and am a bit concerned about how hot it will get in the daytime. I'm planning on staining a Dark Walnut(for esthetic purposes-I'm a graphic designer) and the roof is asphalt black roofing sheets(7) that HomeDepot was kind enough to give to me for FREE!!! Plus, I haven't installed the interior insulation sheets yet! My builder friend was concerned so that he suggested drilling holes under roof for extra ventilation. Suggestions?

What heating pad(s) and thermostat system do you recommend?
I'm not an electrician and have no outdoor outlets in the backyard so I have to figure out a way to route cords to my garage outlets. Maybe place on a timer and thermostat controller to turn on at night and regulate temp of pad.

Thanks again for all your help Tom!

-Dave

-If you are going to use the heat mat on the floor, then I would suggest no hay at all. A little dirt in the areas where the mat doesn't go will be good, but not on the mat.
-I would not use timothy hay for tortoises. It is too stemmy for my liking. Orchard grass hay and bermuda hay are better choices, if you are going to use hay.
-I just want to be clear: I don't trust those ZooMed mats and I would not use one. The Kane mats are safer and have built in redundant safeties to prevent over heating.
-The heat mat alone won't be enough, so Id suggest mounting a radiant heat panel above it. The panel should be mounted about 10-12" over the tortoise 's carapace when resting.
-The door opening will give you all the ventilation you need. No holes in the roof. That will only let all your heat out. No hole in the roof of a burrow in the wild, right? Just a door hole barely big enough for the tortoise to squeeze through.
-This box will not work for hibernation, so you can can figure out hibernation substrate when that time comes.
-Don't worry about the box over heating. All that insulation and sealant will resist over heating. It is also not likely to over heat near the coast anyway. My boxes are in full sun here in the desert with 105 summer temps and mine don't over heat. Also, if it gets too warm, the tortoise can exit the box and go find some shade.

You'll have to decide how and what this box is really for to determine how to use it best and set the thermostat. Is it an area to sleep and be protected with out getting too cold at night? Is it and area to go warm up during cooler beach days? Do you want to keep it hotter in the day time and allow for a night drop in temp for your temperate species? Are you using it so the tortoise can get outside earlier in spring and stay out later in the fall? Seems to me, that I would be making adjustments for different times of year and depending on what I was trying to accomplish. A heated box for a DT is sort of a different proposition than it is for a tropical species, due to their different temperature requirements.

I've had good results with both of these inexpensive thermostats:
https://www.lllreptile.com/products/13883-zilla-1000-watt-temperature-controller
https://www.hydrofarm.com/p/MTPRTC
 

Fredkas

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@Tom
1. the door opening of this night box will be closed when night time right? Still.. no need for any hole? It will be tight and i think no air wil come in and out when that door is closed. I think i will close it for 12hr a day.
2. This box is 4x4x2, i will use it for my sulcata and i find this size is very easy to make when we cut the plywood (efficient too!). However, will it be enough size for an aldabra? I have one, and i really like this box's size (easy to cut). Need your opinion. I want a forever box for the aldabra too.
 

Tom

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@Tom
1. the door opening of this night box will be closed when night time right? Still.. no need for any hole? It will be tight and i think no air wil come in and out when that door is closed. I think i will close it for 12hr a day.
2. This box is 4x4x2, i will use it for my sulcata and i find this size is very easy to make when we cut the plywood (efficient too!). However, will it be enough size for an aldabra? I have one, and i really like this box's size (easy to cut). Need your opinion. I want a forever box for the aldabra too.

1. No need for any ventilation holes. My doors are never airtight, and even if the box was hermetically sealed, there is plenty of air in there to last a slumbering reptile until morning. Ventilation will allow your hot air out and cold air in.
2. The answer depends on how big your aldabra gets. Internal dimension in the 4x4x2 boxes is actually about 39x39x21. This is enough room for a large sulcata, but it is not enough room for a large Aldabra. I'm building and aldabra box for a friend right now who lost everything in the recent fires here. It is 4x8x3feet tall. I'm making the door 30x20 inches to allow for more growth.
 

Fredkas

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2. The answer depends on how big your aldabra gets. Internal dimension in the 4x4x2 boxes is actually about 39x39x21. This is enough room for a large sulcata, but it is not enough room for a large Aldabra. I'm building and aldabra box for a friend right now who lost everything in the recent fires here. It is 4x8x3feet tall. I'm making the door 30x20 inches to allow for more growth.
@Tom , the wide of the door is 30 or 20 inches? Aldabra has a high dome. And they are quiet tall when walking.
 

Ranman

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There are some people who put them on the sides, but that is not an effective way to use them. Heat rises, and Craig Kane himself told me that he wouldn't recommend using them that way. I want the tortoise to be on the warm spot and let the heat rise through its body. I don't want the tortoise on the cold floor and getting some heat on one side.

Kane heat mats have a built in safety thermostat embedded in the pad. If ever the main thermostat should fail, this fail-safe will shut the pad off and prevent over heating.

I've been using Kane mats since 2001 and I've never had any problems at all with them. No burns and no malfunctions of any kind. Right now I have 4 of them in use, but I've had as many as 8 going at once.
Tom this is a great easy box to build thank you for sharing. I am building my first one just like it now. On the Kane mat mine came with the controller to set the temp and says the controller must be used if you are using indoors. Would you recommend i just cut the wire to remove the controller and put a plug on it so i can plug directly into the zilla thermostat.
 

Tom

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Tom this is a great easy box to build thank you for sharing. I am building my first one just like it now. On the Kane mat mine came with the controller to set the temp and says the controller must be used if you are using indoors. Would you recommend i just cut the wire to remove the controller and put a plug on it so i can plug directly into the zilla thermostat.
No. Use the controller as is. Turn it most of the way up and use the Zilla thermostat to control it.
 

Jimb

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Awesome job! Can you list where you purchased the Thermostat & Heat Panel, and maybe their cost? I hope to build something similar this Spring/Summer. Thanks for posting, it helps the rest of us with ideas and know-hows. Oh also, what't the white unit to the left of the shoebox?
Ok, maybe a parts list?? LOL!
 

izzzzzz6

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Great work. I'm glad you replied with this info to the new member enquiring about weather conditions. I live in France but i have travelled all over California and am aware that SoCal is warmer than NorCal. Her tortoise was moved from SoCal so i thought it might need a bit more heat at the colder ends to the year. I was a bit worried that she might not have hibernated it in ideal conditions but i am hoping she will read up and learn a bit more about the responsibilities that she has inherited after agreeing to take on her new family member. The fact that she has posted here asking for help is already a good sign.
I might have to construct some boxes like yours, currently i bring our tortoises inside to their table when it gets too cold. I built them an outdoor house from clay tiles wood and even has a partial glass roof on the front side but it's more of a weather shelter as it is not insulated. They have a larger shelter too which has one glass wall but it's really just a dry place they can go incase it gets very wet.
Oh i almost forgot. You mentioned photos of the residents coming soon?
 

Tom

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Awesome job! Can you list where you purchased the Thermostat & Heat Panel, and maybe their cost? I hope to build something similar this Spring/Summer. Thanks for posting, it helps the rest of us with ideas and know-hows. Oh also, what't the white unit to the left of the shoebox?
Ok, maybe a parts list?? LOL!

Sorry Jimb, just saw this post now…

Thermostat:
https://www.lllreptile.com/products/13883-zilla-1000-watt-temperature-controller

RHP:
http://www.reptilebasics.com/rbi-radiant-heat-panels

You can get the Kane mats form Tyler at:
https://www.tortoisesupply.com
 

Pearly

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I did it again. :)
And I'm going to keep doing it too! :D

Here is the latest night box. Its similar to the others, but I wanted to show more of the electrics involved and how I use them. I made this one for my two returning Gpp females. I gave these two girls to a friend in 2010 and he raised them. They both turned out to be female, while most of mine are male. He offered to give them back to me in the hopes of producing some babies in the future. They will live alone for a couple of months for quarantine and fecal exam purposes, but then they will join the other girls.

Here we go...

Here is the almost finished box showing the yet uncovered insulation inside the walls.
3310ths.jpg




Here is the assortment of equipment going into this box:
30bk60g.jpg




The heat mat and radiant heat panel have been mounted here, as has the shoe box that will hold all the excess wires.
s5vm6v.jpg




Here you can see all the cords and the thermostat all hooked up and stuffed into the shoe box. You can also see my thermostat probe hanging on the wall on the "cool" side. Notice the "drip loops" on the cord coming in to the box and inside the box. More on that later.
s1kkk5.jpg




Close up of the shoe box:
2ngd1dx.jpg




See how nice it looks with the cords all contained? :) Notice that drip loop again...
mcub1l.jpg




A wider view of the whole thing. In this one you can see my GFI circuit that I'm plugged into:
2uy6n4p.jpg




Here is that "drip loop" that I keep talking about. I learned this back in my early aquarium days. You see, water runs downhill. Amazing right?! In the event of an earthquake or other aquarium splashes, the idea is that if you have a "loop" so that your cords always run downhill first and then uphill into your outlets, water will not be guided into your outlet. Instead it will come to the bottom of the loop and drip down to the ground harmlessly. I did one outside this new tortoise box and inside, just to be safe.
i4o7pk.jpg




Here it is open for business.
5lteuu.jpg



In my excitement I forgot to get pics of the new inhabitants. I'll get some pics and post those later.

Love this one, too! Can I use these pics as well for my tort house build?
 

cjturtle

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Messages
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I did it again. :)
And I'm going to keep doing it too! :D

Here is the latest night box. Its similar to the others, but I wanted to show more of the electrics involved and how I use them. I made this one for my two returning Gpp females. I gave these two girls to a friend in 2010 and he raised them. They both turned out to be female, while most of mine are male. He offered to give them back to me in the hopes of producing some babies in the future. They will live alone for a couple of months for quarantine and fecal exam purposes, but then they will join the other girls.

Here we go...

Here is the almost finished box showing the yet uncovered insulation inside the walls.
3310ths.jpg




Here is the assortment of equipment going into this box:
30bk60g.jpg




The heat mat and radiant heat panel have been mounted here, as has the shoe box that will hold all the excess wires.
s5vm6v.jpg




Here you can see all the cords and the thermostat all hooked up and stuffed into the shoe box. You can also see my thermostat probe hanging on the wall on the "cool" side. Notice the "drip loops" on the cord coming in to the box and inside the box. More on that later.
s1kkk5.jpg




Close up of the shoe box:
2ngd1dx.jpg




See how nice it looks with the cords all contained? :) Notice that drip loop again...
mcub1l.jpg




A wider view of the whole thing. In this one you can see my GFI circuit that I'm plugged into:
2uy6n4p.jpg




Here is that "drip loop" that I keep talking about. I learned this back in my early aquarium days. You see, water runs downhill. Amazing right?! In the event of an earthquake or other aquarium splashes, the idea is that if you have a "loop" so that your cords always run downhill first and then uphill into your outlets, water will not be guided into your outlet. Instead it will come to the bottom of the loop and drip down to the ground harmlessly. I did one outside this new tortoise box and inside, just to be safe.
i4o7pk.jpg




Here it is open for business.
5lteuu.jpg



In my excitement I forgot to get pics of the new inhabitants. I'll get some pics and post those later.
This is one cool setup. Thx for sharing.
 

Romeo Serback

Active Member
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Oct 27, 2015
Messages
271
Location (City and/or State)
New Jersey
I know
I did it again. :)
And I'm going to keep doing it too! :D

Here is the latest night box. Its similar to the others, but I wanted to show more of the electrics involved and how I use them. I made this one for my two returning Gpp females. I gave these two girls to a friend in 2010 and he raised them. They both turned out to be female, while most of mine are male. He offered to give them back to me in the hopes of producing some babies in the future. They will live alone for a couple of months for quarantine and fecal exam purposes, but then they will join the other girls.

Here we go...

Here is the almost finished box showing the yet uncovered insulation inside the walls.
3310ths.jpg




Here is the assortment of equipment going into this box:
30bk60g.jpg




The heat mat and radiant heat panel have been mounted here, as has the shoe box that will hold all the excess wires.
s5vm6v.jpg




Here you can see all the cords and the thermostat all hooked up and stuffed into the shoe box. You can also see my thermostat probe hanging on the wall on the "cool" side. Notice the "drip loops" on the cord coming in to the box and inside the box. More on that later.
s1kkk5.jpg




Close up of the shoe box:
2ngd1dx.jpg




See how nice it looks with the cords all contained? :) Notice that drip loop again...
mcub1l.jpg




A wider view of the whole thing. In this one you can see my GFI circuit that I'm plugged into:
2uy6n4p.jpg




Here is that "drip loop" that I keep talking about. I learned this back in my early aquarium days. You see, water runs downhill. Amazing right?! In the event of an earthquake or other aquarium splashes, the idea is that if you have a "loop" so that your cords always run downhill first and then uphill into your outlets, water will not be guided into your outlet. Instead it will come to the bottom of the loop and drip down to the ground harmlessly. I did one outside this new tortoise box and inside, just to be safe.
i4o7pk.jpg




Here it is open for business.
5lteuu.jpg



In my excitement I forgot to get pics of the new inhabitants. I'll get some pics and post those later.
I know this is an old thread, but it's beautiful! For an adult leopard, what's the minimum height and width you should make your hide opening? I know not all leopards are the same size, but in knowing that, what do you suggest?
 

wellington

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I know

I know this is an old thread, but it's beautiful! For an adult leopard, what's the minimum height and width you should make your hide opening? I know not all leopards are the same size, but in knowing that, what do you suggest?
What kind of leopard do you have? The Babcocki are usually smaller, around 11-17 inches and then the PP around 20 plus.
 
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