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Cheap, Easy, Simple Sunning Enclosure

Discussion in 'Tortoise Enclosures' started by Tom, May 5, 2010.

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  1. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    First, a disclaimer: While sunshine and exercise are very beneficial, taking your animals outside is not without risk. Predators, overheating, theft, flipping over, dehydration and escape are all very real possibilities that should be taken seriously. Please keep a close eye on them in ANY new enclosure and for goodness sakes, please exercise common sense, caution and good judgement. If you don't have common sense AND caution AND good judgement, please give your tortoise to me and I'll make sure they stay safe.

    The purpose of this post is to demonstrate some really easy ways to get those indoor turtles and tortoises out in the sun. This is as basic as it gets and there is no reason it couldn't be done up much more fancy than this. This is not intended as a permanent outdoor enclosure. Its meant to put a small tortoise or turtle in for an hour or so of sunshine. A top could easily be built if dogs or other predators are a concern, but I don't leave mine unattended.

    I have seen pics of lots of beautiful, elaborate outdoor set-ups lately and those are fantastic. We have some truly gifted, capable and artistic members here on the forum. I'm at the other end of the spectrum. My enclosures tend to be simple and functional. Here goes:

    First, get a kiddie pool from KMart for $10-15 or something similar. Then get a bunch of your preferred substrate. My pool here is a year old and a little beat up and my substrate was purchased at Lowes for $4.38 plus tax. I have done this in the past with plain old dirt from the yard or no substrate at all, too.
    [​IMG]

    Next add a bunch of water. I used several gallons. Its very dry where I live so I want it wet to increase humidity. Use as much or as little as you need for your area and your species.
    [​IMG]

    Next add a potted plant of some sort. Now this one is a bit too small, but you get the idea. Something a little bigger and bushier would be a little better. The idea here is that no matter where the sun is, your tortoise will always have some shade.
    [​IMG]

    Alternatively, here are several ways to use some plywood or anything handy to give your tortoise some shade:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    These work great for aquatic turtles too. I just get a clean cinderblock, some bricks or an appropriate rock and fill the tub until the water line is almost even with the top of the block. I used that set-up in this particular tub with a baby alligator a while back. Worked great.

    The point here is this: It does not have to be difficult or expensive to get your turtle or tortoise out in the sun. Direct, natural sunshine is REALLY REALLY good for them in many ways and its free. Every hour they spend outside is an hour you don't have to pay to run expensive, energy sucking, artificial lights.

    Everyone please feel free to add to thread or offer other tips. Happy torting.
  2. dreadyA

    dreadyA New Member 5 Year Member

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    Great post, Tom! Sometimes things can't always be super glorious, & i think this is good for people who cant invest too much $
  3. GBtortoises

    GBtortoises Well-Known Member 10 Year Member!

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    Tom-Great post and a very simple, inexpensive and effective idea.

    Security might be increased by adding a simple wire mesh or fenced cover over the sides and top. Something that is an easy one piece lift off. You'd just have to contain the shade overhang within the pool to do so. This way you can walk away and do other things knowing that the tortoise is safe from predators and escape.

    This would really be a great idea/set up for apartment dwellers with a balcony or other limited space.
    aztortuga likes this.
  4. Kristina

    Kristina Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I agree, I think sometimes people way overthink their set ups. Something simple and cheap like this can be done by ANY owner. You don't have to be rich to take good care of your torts.

    We all love to have beautiful, scaped and permanent housing for our tortoises, but until you can get something set up, is it really that big of a deal to spend $20 or less on something utilitarian like this, if it is for the benefit of the tortoises?

    I used to use kiddy pools, and I often took two huge aluminum window screens and overlapped them across the top and held it down with a brick. I think I found them in the garbage.
    Totally_Tortoise likes this.
  5. terracolson

    terracolson New Member 5 Year Member

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    i looked at the pools yesturday at walmart. I was going to get the small 10 dollar one.

    i am torn on what bedding to use. I use eco earth at home inside, and they are currently chilling on the ground outside in a wire cage.

    I want the pool, with a screen so they have more room.

    I worry about bark, or even cypress mulch, splinters are my week spot..... how does that stuff feel?

    I was thinking potting soil and planting grass, but i am thinking that might be to much trouble, at least for right now.

    So for my baby leos, what do you recommend?

    (loves you millie)
  6. ChiKat

    ChiKat Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Hmm maybe I'll have to get a kiddie pool for Nelson's outdoor enclosure. I would rather keep Nelson on my second story deck to keep him safe from predators/neighbors :p
    Thanks for the idea!
  7. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Terra, any of the commonly recommended substrates will work for you. For me its more a matter of what's available, cheap and functional. The bag in the top pic was purchased here at my local Lowes in SoCal. I bet they've got it up there too. Cypress, orchid bark, coco coir, soil, or plain dirt from your yard will work too. The only one I don't like is sand, but some people mix in some and don't have a problem with it. You could also go with no substrate, but some people think its too slick. I've done it in the past and didn't have any trouble. These pools have little ridges all over the bottom, so that probably helps with traction too.
  8. terracolson

    terracolson New Member 5 Year Member

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    So one bag should do it?

    ok I guess i could try some barky stuff... If i get poked by it, i am coming for you!
  9. ChiKat

    ChiKat Active Member 5 Year Member

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    If I were to use this type of enclosure for Nelson this summer I would want to leave it outside on my second story deck at all times. Do you have any suggestions of what I could do when it rains, so that it doesn't flood? Cover it with a tarp?
    aztortuga likes this.
  10. TortieLuver

    TortieLuver Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Tom thanks for posting! I have read many posts on here of people who keep their tots inside and not sure how to give them sun with no backyard. Also it's good that you showed that even though you put them out in the sun, they may get warm and need shade.
  11. terryo

    terryo Well-Known Member 10 Year Member!

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    Tom, that was a great post. I do the same thing with little cement tubs for my little boxie hatchlings. I throw in some spring mix seeds too.
  12. TylerStewart

    TylerStewart Well-Known Member 10 Year Member!

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    I swear, every time I use a piece of plywood like that, it ends up falling in, and creating a ramp right out. Maybe it's just me and my luck.
  13. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    You could certainly cover it, but it might be easier to just make some drain holes on the bottom, before you fill it. It almost never rains here, and when it does, its usually the middle of winter, so that's never been an issue for me. It might also be easier for you to just not use substrate and tip the pool up on end before it rains.

    Now have have to add flooding to what could go wrong on my disclaimer!:D
    aztortuga likes this.
  14. South FL Katie

    South FL Katie Member 5 Year Member

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  15. OK Tom, you said we could add to your thread, so I am not hijacking it...I hope.
    I do differently then Tom for my inside tortoises because I want them to learn to graze so I bought several small fences from the everything under $20 catalog, then my sister sent me a couple. I put the fences right on the grass so they can graze and pretend they are big tortoises...I love these fences...
    This is 2 fences connected together...
    [​IMG]

    Then I add a couple of rocks and part of a cinder block for climbing and a small hide...
    [​IMG]

    This wire was created to separate my cat from the front of my car when we were traveling. Big Bubba would stay in the back of the deck. So if the sun is not too hot I use this wire to protect the small tortoises from predators...
    [​IMG]

    I add a piece of 2x6 for shade...
    [​IMG]

    Then if the sun is hot this is what I use...just a small piece of lattice...
    [​IMG]

    Here's Fat Nat in the fence so you can see the size of it. I just use it for my small tortoises that live in the house and need to go out for sun and grass...thanks Tom for letting me add to your thread, or at least I hope you let me...:p....
    [​IMG]
  16. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    That's not hijacking. That's enhancing. I always want you to comment which ever way you want on any of my threads. Back me up if I'm right and correct me if I'm wrong.

    This fencing idea is great! I haven't seen this particular style before. Can you tell us where you got it specifically? I only have bare dirt and sparse weeds where I am, but this would be great for somebody with a grassy yard. It could be moved around every day so one spot doesn't get over grazed.

    Thanks, Maggie.
    MireyaMurphy likes this.
  17. Tom I bought the fences from a Collections Etc. catalog. It's one of those everything under $20 catalogs and most of the stuff is pretty good. I think the fences were $10 but maybe Yvonne remembers better as she gave me two of hers. I love the little fences and they are sturdy made out of a heavy wood. Then there's 2 strings of plastic running thru them that you can hook them together. I move them around my yard just like you suggest. I used 3 of them to make my new box turtle pen this Spring.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I used the fences to surround a nice miniature rose bush. Teeny yellow roses with red edges. I haven't yet been able to put any box turtles in it as it's still in the low 30's at night and in the low 50's during the day. I planted a Clematis and that's growing in there nicely about 6 inches tall now and I sprinkled some grazing tortoise seed mix and that's just now starting to come up. I have worked hard on it, but now I realize there are no hides and...not room for any, at least not that I can figure out just yet...:rolleyes:...opps!
    MireyaMurphy likes this.
  18. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    The name of the catalog is Collections, Etc. and it usually has every item for 14.99 or less.

    I've seen a similar fence from Orchard Supply only it was made out of small bamboo pieces wired together.
    aztortuga and MireyaMurphy like this.
  19. That's pretty close to what I said, I got the name right with the cost wrong...:D
    aztortuga likes this.
  20. RascalDesertTort

    RascalDesertTort New Member 5 Year Member

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    I get this catalog regularly and haven't seen the wood fence for awhile but here are a couple alternatives that you can order from the same place. :)

    http://www.collectionsetc.com/Product/interlocking-stone-border-garden-trim.aspx/_/N-mxm8


    **This on you don't need to stake into the ground and look better IMO**

    http://www.collectionsetc.com/Product/snapping-brick-garden-borders.aspx/_/N-mxm8[hr]
    oh...and just b/c everyone should have one of these...they are awesome and who says your tort wouldn't want a nightlight in it's pen??

    http://www.collectionsetc.com/Product/lighted-turtle-garden-ornament.aspx/_/N-mxm8
    aztortuga, Stoneman and Ginja like this.
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