Confused beginner wondering about wood types

Epicjake15

New Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
20
Location (City and/or State)
England
I am a first Time tortoise buyer( I have not got mine yet I’m planning out the vivarium but I don’t know what wood to use. People say to use ply wood with a Thompson’s water seal but how long does it smell for? And another worry is a ply wood doesn’t look the best and my parents say I can’t get one if it doesn’t look good. It will be a inside vivarium by the way and is there a specific type of ply wood. Also what else wood I need for the vivarium (again inside)
 
Last edited:

Epicjake15

New Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
20
Location (City and/or State)
England
also at what size do I move my tortoise into a 46/24/24. I am currently designing my juvenile tortoise enclosure to be 36/18/18 is that ok .sorry I’ve got a lot of questions.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
40,459
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
We need more info like what type of tortoise?
A minimum of a 4x8 foot is needed for the smaller adults size. A hatchling of any type need a closed chamber for around 3 years
Do you have the room to make an outdoor enclosure for warmer months?
 

Epicjake15

New Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
20
Location (City and/or State)
England
We need more info like what type of tortoise?
A minimum of a 4x8 foot is needed for the smaller adults size. A hatchling of any type need a closed chamber for around 3 years
Do you have the room to make an outdoor enclosure for warmer months?
A Greek tortoise and I believe we have the room outside for the warmer months but bye the time we actually get it it will probably be mid October early November so we’re trying to get the vivarium out of the way and prepare the outside enclosure ready for summer next year
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
40,459
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Most any wood can be used except cedar. You can line it with a plastic lining and then you don't have to seal it. Otherwise if you let it sit outside after sealed, the smell should be gone around a weeks time give or take a few days. You can also paint it.
 

Epicjake15

New Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
20
Location (City and/or State)
England
Most any wood can be used except cedar. You can line it with a plastic lining and then you don't have to seal it. Otherwise if you let it sit outside after sealed, the smell should be gone around a weeks time give or take a few days. You can also paint it. but what paints are safe for tortoises
Thank you, do you know what paints are safe for tortoise
 

Krista S

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
838
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
also at what size do I move my tortoise into a 46/24/24. I am currently designing my juvenile tortoise enclosure to be 36/18/18 is that ok .sorry I’ve got a lot of questions.
Welcome to the forum! If you’re getting a juvenile, then 36x18x18 will be too small to start off with. That size would be ok for a hatchling for a year at most. Honestly, for a juvenile I would go with a full size enclosure already. As @wellington stated, a full grown greek will need at least an 8ftx4ft enclosure. If you wanted you could block off part of the space at first, and open it up once the tortoise is larger. It depends on how big the tortoise is that you’re getting. I have a 2 year old Hermann’s tortoise in a 7ft x 4ft enclosure and he uses every inch of it. I also recommend looking at a material called expanded PVC. It is heat and water resistant, so you don’t need to worry about spending more time and money on paint and chemicals to waterproof it. The other bonus is the material looks really nice and professional. I used expanded pvc for a tortoise table I just had built and I am so glad I went that route. The pieces are just screwed together and then an aquarium safe caulking was used to seal the inside seams. Here’s a link to some pics of my enclosure so you can get an idea of what the material can look like.


Also, here is a link to the most current care sheet for Greeks. I highly recommend thoroughly reading this over. There’s a lot of excellent information in here that you won’t find anywhere else. It was written by one of the members of the forum, based on his many years of experience.

 

Epicjake15

New Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
20
Location (City and/or State)
England
Welcome to the forum! If you’re getting a juvenile, then 36x18x18 will be too small to start off with. That size would be ok for a hatchling for a year at most. Honestly, for a juvenile I would go with a full size enclosure already. As @wellington stated, a full grown greek will need at least an 8ftx4ft enclosure. If you wanted you could block off part of the space at first, and open it up once the tortoise is larger. It depends on how big the tortoise is that you’re getting. I have a 2 year old Hermann’s tortoise in a 7ft x 4ft enclosure and he uses every inch of it. I also recommend looking at a material called expanded PVC. It is heat and water resistant, so you don’t need to worry about spending more time and money on paint and chemicals to waterproof it. The other bonus is the material looks really nice and professional. I used expanded pvc for a tortoise table I just had built and I am so glad I went that route. The pieces are just screwed together and then an aquarium safe caulking was used to seal the inside seams. Here’s a link to some pics of my enclosure so you can get an idea of what the material can look like.


Also, here is a link to the most current care sheet for Greeks. I highly recommend thoroughly reading this over. There’s a lot of excellent information in here that you won’t find anywhere else. It was written by one of the members of the forum, based on his many years of experience.

Well that’s sad I don’t think I’ll be able to get a tortoise then I just don’t have the space
 

Chubbs the tegu

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 9, 2019
Messages
8,765
Location (City and/or State)
Ma
Well that’s sad I don’t think I’ll be able to get a tortoise then I just don’t have the space
Good for you for asking questions before u actually get the tortoise! Its a rarity around here lately. If ur looking for an easy reptile that can stay in a smallish enclosure try out a blue tongue skink.. very cool and personable
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
40,459
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Sorry you don't have the space. Better to find out now, then after getting a tortoise and causing the damage that can happen when in too small of spaces.
There is always time down the road, when you are old enough to get your own place. Plan ahead for getting the proper space for your dream tort or torts.
You can always stay on the forum, read about all the different tortoises, all the care that is needed and when the time comes, you will know exactly what to look for in a home, equipment and the ideal tortoise for you.
 

ManAlive85

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2020
Messages
61
Location (City and/or State)
London UK
Hi Jake,

You could consider a split level viv with ramps for the tortoises to climb, which is what I have opted for. I live in a small central London flat and I don’t have a lot of floor space so I built a tall, multi level vivarium which gives the tortoises enough sq/ft by using vertical space as well as floor space. It’s also in the middle of my living room so it needed to be attractive as well as functional.

For the carcass, floors and roof I used 18mm MDF, sealed with MDF sealer and the interior entirely triple coated in yacht varnish so that it’s completely waterproof. The bottom is lined with PVC damp-proofing sheets and the back board is made from quite fine ply. I built the interior platforms and barriers out of 8mm MDF and the doors from 6.4mm laminated glass.

I used wrapping paper and varnish to create the ‘decoupage’ effect but you could paint the exterior for a simpler and equally attractive finish. I painted the top with metallic gold paint.

My viv is designed to house more than one tortoise so yours wouldn’t need to be quite so ambitious. All this said, I’m a professional craftsman with my own workshop and all of the necessary tools and this was still a fairly expensive and at times challenging project. I’ll need something bigger in a couple of years as these guys grow but I’ll have more space then too.

It’s not a job for a first-time woodworker but It might give you some inspiration before you give up all hope.

42366043-0FD8-47EF-A260-032560686F46.jpeg 07130326-E44F-4DE7-A766-76C684EEC607.jpeg 5CFEA21E-17C3-4478-83D1-540344E232EE.jpeg E0B4BB13-058D-4DC1-9735-885940FED87D.jpeg
 
Last edited:

Epicjake15

New Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
20
Location (City and/or State)
England
Hi Jake,

You could consider a split level viv with ramps for the tortoises to climb, which is what I have opted for. I live in a small central London flat and I don’t have a lot of floor space so I built a tall, multi level vivarium which gives the tortoises enough sq/ft by using vertical space as well as floor space. It’s also in the middle of my living room so it needed to be attractive as well as functional.

For the carcass, floors and roof I used 18mm MDF, sealed with MDF sealer and the interior entirely triple coated in yacht varnish so that it’s completely waterproof. The bottom is lined with PVC damp-proofing sheets and the back board is made from quite fine ply. I built the interior platforms and barriers out of 8mm MDF and the doors from 6.4mm laminated glass.

I used wrapping paper and varnish to create the ‘decoupage’ effect but you could paint the exterior for a simpler and equally attractive finish. I painted the top with metallic gold paint.

My viv is designed to house more than one tortoise so yours wouldn’t need to be quite so ambitious. All this said, I’m a professional craftsman with my own workshop and all of the necessary tools and this was still a fairly expensive and at times challenging project. I’ll need something bigger in a couple of years as these guys grow but I’ll have more space then too.

It’s not a job for a first-time woodworker but It might give you some inspiration before you give up all hope.

View attachment 329750 View attachment 329751 View attachment 329752 View attachment 329753
Oh I’m not making it alone my grandad has been a wood worker for about 40-50 years and so he’ll be helping me
 

Epicjake15

New Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
20
Location (City and/or State)
England
Hi Jake,

You could consider a split level viv with ramps for the tortoises to climb, which is what I have opted for. I live in a small central London flat and I don’t have a lot of floor space so I built a tall, multi level vivarium which gives the tortoises enough sq/ft by using vertical space as well as floor space. It’s also in the middle of my living room so it needed to be attractive as well as functional.

For the carcass, floors and roof I used 18mm MDF, sealed with MDF sealer and the interior entirely triple coated in yacht varnish so that it’s completely waterproof. The bottom is lined with PVC damp-proofing sheets and the back board is made from quite fine ply. I built the interior platforms and barriers out of 8mm MDF and the doors from 6.4mm laminated glass.

I used wrapping paper and varnish to create the ‘decoupage’ effect but you could paint the exterior for a simpler and equally attractive finish. I painted the top with metallic gold paint.

My viv is designed to house more than one tortoise so yours wouldn’t need to be quite so ambitious. All this said, I’m a professional craftsman with my own workshop and all of the necessary tools and this was still a fairly expensive and at times challenging project. I’ll need something bigger in a couple of years as these guys grow but I’ll have more space then too.

It’s not a job for a first-time woodworker but It might give you some inspiration before you give up all hope.

View attachment 329750 View attachment 329751 View attachment 329752 View attachment 329753
Just a few questions if I was making a viv about 4 wide and 8 long would I just half it so 2 wide and 4 long but double the height and add mdf to the middle for the second floor. And should I use a ribbed ramp for easier access ps I forgot to say but thankyou so much cause I didn’t think you could make it 2 stories and you have given me new hope
 

ManAlive85

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2020
Messages
61
Location (City and/or State)
London UK
You could do that, yes.

Because I keep two tortoises, my setup is two independent enclosures, one on top of the other, and each has a raised platform, rather than entire second storeys. In this case you could theoretically reduce the footprint by around 1/3rd as you’re only adding approximately 1/3rd of the floor space with the additional level.

If you’re going to add an entire additional storey, you’ll need to consider adding an extra set of lights and heat sources and the relevant thermostats and timers etc; otherwise you’ll get very dark areas and massive temperature ranges. You’d effectively be building two vivs with a ramp between them so it could be complicated. But yes, in theory I see no reason why you couldn’t halve the footprint if you’re doubling the amount of usable floor space for the tort. As long as you give the tortoise a reason to use all of the levels, I see no reason, in theory why you couldn’t have three or four levels, as long as the temperature can be managed throughout he viv to stop the top getting way hotter than the bottom. I think it’s much better for tortoises to be able to climb safely than to spend their entire lives on a one flat level.

I glued icelolly sticks to the ramp to give the tortoises something to grip onto. I was worried they’d struggle with it at first but they cracked it straight away. The raised platforms are where they’re fed and that gives them the incentive to climb.
 

Epicjake15

New Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
20
Location (City and/or State)
England
You could do that, yes.

Because I keep two tortoises, my setup is two independent enclosures, one on top of the other, and each has a raised platform, rather than entire second storeys. In this case you could theoretically reduce the footprint by around 1/3rd as you’re only adding approximately 1/3rd of the floor space with the additional level.

If you’re going to add an entire additional storey, you’ll need to consider adding an extra set of lights and heat sources and the relevant thermostats and timers etc; otherwise you’ll get very dark areas and massive temperature ranges. You’d effectively be building two vivs with a ramp between them so it could be complicated. But yes, in theory I see no reason why you couldn’t halve the footprint if you’re doubling the amount of usable floor space for the tort. As long as you give the tortoise a reason to use all of the levels, I see no reason, in theory why you couldn’t have three or four levels, as long as the temperature can be managed throughout he viv to stop the top getting way hotter than the bottom. I think it’s much better for tortoises to be able to climb safely than to spend their entire lives on a one flat level.

I glued icelolly sticks to the ramp to give the tortoises something to grip onto. I was worried they’d struggle with it at first but they cracked it straight away. The raised platforms are where they’re fed and that gives them the incentive to climb.
Thank you I will factor this information in
 

Lulabee247

Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2020
Messages
29
Location (City and/or State)
Durham
Hi Jake,

You could consider a split level viv with ramps for the tortoises to climb, which is what I have opted for. I live in a small central London flat and I don’t have a lot of floor space so I built a tall, multi level vivarium which gives the tortoises enough sq/ft by using vertical space as well as floor space. It’s also in the middle of my living room so it needed to be attractive as well as functional.

For the carcass, floors and roof I used 18mm MDF, sealed with MDF sealer and the interior entirely triple coated in yacht varnish so that it’s completely waterproof. The bottom is lined with PVC damp-proofing sheets and the back board is made from quite fine ply. I built the interior platforms and barriers out of 8mm MDF and the doors from 6.4mm laminated glass.

I used wrapping paper and varnish to create the ‘decoupage’ effect but you could paint the exterior for a simpler and equally attractive finish. I painted the top with metallic gold paint.

My viv is designed to house more than one tortoise so yours wouldn’t need to be quite so ambitious. All this said, I’m a professional craftsman with my own workshop and all of the necessary tools and this was still a fairly expensive and at times challenging project. I’ll need something bigger in a couple of years as these guys grow but I’ll have more space then too.

It’s not a job for a first-time woodworker but It might give you some inspiration before you give up all hope.

View attachment 329750 View attachment 329751 View attachment 329752 View attachment 329753
Wow just wow, that is amazing, I know torts don’t like change but I had to build a bigger one in rather a hurry and I find it’s not doing what I want it to do, Iv been looking for ideas and wood types and paints (the correct stuff) for months, not bought anything as yet but the split level sounds great. And that what you have done looks fab. Love it. Thanks for your pics. X
 

ManAlive85

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2020
Messages
61
Location (City and/or State)
London UK
Wow just wow, that is amazing, I know torts don’t like change but I had to build a bigger one in rather a hurry and I find it’s not doing what I want it to do, Iv been looking for ideas and wood types and paints (the correct stuff) for months, not bought anything as yet but the split level sounds great. And that what you have done looks fab. Love it. Thanks for your pics. X

Thanks a lot.

Feel free to drop me a message on here if you need any help or advice with the build.
 
Top