Brainstorming on outdoor enclosure design - how to keep up humidity

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Audiogalaxy007

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I am beginning the designs for my Redfoot's permanent home(s). For most of the year, I would like to keep him outside, since I can set aside a very generous amount of space for him. During the winter months, he will be brought inside.

My outdoor enclosure concept begins with a large elevated tort table, but as I live in Boise, keeping humidity up in an open enclosure is near impossible. So I am working on a design for a tort table that is fully enclosed - essentially a small greenhouse (with lots of plants). However, I want your help with a few roadblocks:

First: I want to have a clear top and sides to this construction, but all signs point to no clear material being able to transmit UVB rays (this will be in indirect sunlight only, so I am not concerned with overheating). I am looking at plexiglass (acrylic), Polycarbonate (single and multiwalled), clear corrugated fiberglass, and regular glass. Should I bother worrying about this, or should I just pick whatever is cheapest and supplement with a UVB lamp?

Second: during the spring and fall, night temps can get a little on the low-side, so I want supplemental heating on a thermostat. What would be best, heat-ropes under the substrate (good for humidity), CHEs, or something else?

Third: With an enclosure like this, ventilation will be key. I need to find a balance of keeping in heat and humidity in, but still have adequate ventilation. Should I do forced air (small fans) or will holes in the sides do? Where should they be located (near the substrate, middle of enclosure, or near the top)?

and Finally: I plan to hook up a misting system on a timer. Does anyone have any good plans/suggestions for a low-maintenance system that I don't have to refill constantly?

I think that is enough to get me started. Once I have some drawings, I will post them to get some feedback.
 

wellington

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I would cover half to keep humidity on the covered half where it should be. Let the other half be open for natural sun light and uv. The heat ropes seem to be light by lots, and could add a Che for nights that might get a little too cold. Just make sure he gets natural sun light as often as possible. Don't forget pics of your work

By the way WELCOME:D, not sure if I had welcomed you in a diff. Thread, so just in case:D
 

Audiogalaxy007

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wellington said:
I would cover half to keep humidity on the covered half where it should be. Let the other half be open for natural sun light and uv. The heat ropes seem to be light by lots, and could add a Che for nights that might get a little too cold. Just make sure he gets natural sun light as often as possible. Don't forget pics of your work

By the way WELCOME:D, not sure if I had welcomed you in a diff. Thread, so just in case:D



I thought about leaving half the enclosure open, but I am worried about losing too much heat (at night) and humidity.
 

lynnedit

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If you choose a greenhouse, cold frame, or similar cover, you might have a lot of trouble finding something that will transmit UV. You might need to add a UVB during the day, and a CHE at night in the winter months. Often, it works best to have two sources of heat. Thus, water proof heat cables on a thermostat are wonderful for keep up humidity, if you keep the soil moist.
In the warmer months, it won't matter, because they will go into the open part of the enclosure (they will need to get out of the small greenhouse area because it will be quite warm in the summer).
They make small greenhouse fans that can be hung from the ceiling (Charley's greenhouse, for example, is one source). Or, you can have the lid set up with an automatic opener, which will crack open during warmer weather. Undoubtably, you will need the lid or windows (whatever you have) open in warm months.
And can you hook a drip system to mist up to a hose bib on a timer?
 

Audiogalaxy007

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lynnedit said:
If you choose a greenhouse, cold frame, or similar cover, you might have a lot of trouble finding something that will transmit UV. You might need to add a UVB during the day, and a CHE at night in the winter months. Often, it works best to have two sources of heat. Thus, water proof heat cables on a thermostat are wonderful for keep up humidity, if you keep the soil moist.
In the warmer months, it won't matter, because they will go into the open part of the enclosure (they will need to get out of the small greenhouse area because it will be quite warm in the summer).
They make small greenhouse fans that can be hung from the ceiling (Charley's greenhouse, for example, is one source). Or, you can have the lid set up with an automatic opener, which will crack open during warmer weather. Undoubtably, you will need the lid or windows (whatever you have) open in warm months.
And can you hook a drip system to mist up to a hose bib on a timer?

I think I will end up doing some sort of half cold frame/half open enclosure. And I will have some sort of ventilation in the cold frame section.

The winters get too cold here to have him outside. I will likely build an indoor smaller winter home for the coldest months. But I will be putting heating into the cold frame of the outdoor enclosure to make sure the spring/fall nights don't get too cold.

Are tortoises good about going where they are supposed to go? By that I mean if my RF needs humidity, they would go into the cold frame, but if the cold frame was too warm or too wet, they would go to the dry open side of the cage?

Also, can you show me an example of the drip system you are referring to? It might be what I am looking for.
 

moswen

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Audiogalaxy007 said:
Are tortoises good about going where they are supposed to go? By that I mean if my RF needs humidity, they would go into the cold frame, but if the cold frame was too warm or too wet, they would go to the dry open side of the cage?

Yes, tortoises know what they need and they will look for it. If you pay attention they will "tell" you things by just such behavior; if they spend a majority of their time in the humid section they need more water/humidity, if they're never over there you could cut back on how humid you're keeping it... Same with lighting/temps & etc
 

Madkins007

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I don't know Boise's climate, but I am not sure why you are thinking about something more complicated than just a typical fenced-in pen... with some adaptations for your climate.

A fairly common set of adaptations would include:
- A heated shelter (like a heated dog house, or using a 'pig blanket') for those cool nights (you may want to consider rigging it with a door you can latch so you can manually secure the torts in there if you think it is going to be a cool night)
- A weather-proof heater can be set on a thermostat for cool days- although the shelter and their natural hardiness will handle most short-term cool days.
- Two fairly easy ways to increase humidity are live plants (closely-set broadleaves, so they trap humidity under them), and adding a drip or mist system you might use in a garden. A really simple drip can be made by just hanging a big jar or jug with a tight lid over the plants and poking one or more very small holes in it. Adjust the tightness of the lid to help regulate the drip speed. Or, use a big bucket with holes or even a small spout installed, etc.
- Consider adding a large, flat rock that can absorb heat all day, and release it in the evenings.

If you need protection from predators, you can usually use chicken wire, which allows plenty of UV.

After all, there are a lot of other plants and animals that need just a little extra help in some climates, and farm suppliers and garden centers will often have these things.
 

frankie

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I agree that there may not be a need for such a complicated enclosed enclosure.

Here are some pics of mine. There is a thick layer of mulch throughout (that holds moisture and creates heat. I have the sprinklers/ misters coming on for short times several times a day to create a mist. At the ground level (where the tort lives, the humidity is 78- 85 depending on the outside temps. She likes to burrow a little bit into the humid mulch. My tort has her 'pond' to soak in (auto filled when the sprinklers come on) and some of the drip sprinklers make little puddles of mud.

There are dryer areas, too.

Her 'dog' house is heated at night, and during the day if the temps drop too low.
 

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