Desert Tortoise Burrow Questions

Hot Wet Sam

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Hello All,

My little guy is almost 4 years old. And I'm transitioning him to be outside full time this summer. He spends his day roaming the yard, chomping on weeds and hibiscus. At night I lock him in his dog house to protect him from any predators. So far its been going well, but these recent 100+ days have prompted me to decide to build him a butrow to keep cool. He has plenty of bushes and shade all over the yard, but i want to do my best to give him the option of a cooler burrow. So after a ton of research on burrows, here's my problem:

If I make an underground burrow, most instructions say to make them anywhere from 4-6ft long to achieve the proper Temps interface burrow. But at that length, there's no way I can reach in and retrieve my tortoise to lock him up at night. So I decided to make a shorter burrow that I would be able to reach into every night, but I'm worried it wouldn't provide the proper relief from the sun.

I guess I'm just looking for suggestions, ideas, or if anyone has a similar situation/story.
 

Tom

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I grappled with this too. I made an underground burrow with an access hatch. It worked perfectly, but the pics are lost now.

Here is a different one I made for Russians which would be similar in size to your little guy until he grows larger.
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I then put the radiant heat panel on the ceiling so that I could keep them outside long into the fall and earlier into the spring. Here in SoCal we have warm days, but cold night in fall and spring. The thermostat was set to 65ish, so that it would cool at night, but not too much, and then they could sun during our warm sunny day.
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Tom

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A much easier way to do it is to simply dig a sloped hole, put a board or some plywood over it, and then put the dirt from the hole back on top of the board. Add even more dirt if needed.

What ever you do, use a thermometer to check the temperature.
 

KarenSoCal

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This is how I dug my DT's burrow...

First, a ramp and chamber.
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Then, I lined the ramp and chamber with wood, and put some uprights so it wouldn't collapse. Added a lid. The bottom of the chamber is about 24" below ground level.
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Finally, some dirt, and a mister and shade cabin.
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He used this burrow for a summer. Then he dug one of his own in the front left corner of the enclosure. You can't see the entrance in this pic. He used both of the burrows for the next 2 summers. I could never figure how he decided which one to use. 20180411_150605.jpg
 

Maro2Bear

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I guess the problem with covering the burrow with a large heavy lid & then dirt is that it’s impossible to nightly retrieve the tort to lock up at night. Overhead access(trap door from the roof concept like Tom‘S there in the pix seems to have tackled that problem.

Always interesting to see these issues conquered to help our torts!
 

KarenSoCal

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I guess the problem with covering the burrow with a large heavy lid & then dirt is that it’s impossible to nightly retrieve the tort to lock up at night. Overhead access(trap door from the roof concept like Tom‘S there in the pix seems to have tackled that problem.

Always interesting to see these issues conquered to help our torts!
Yes, that is an issue. However, with where I live, I didn't have a night box for him. He slept in whichever burrow he chose at night. The only time I had a problem was when we'd get a torrential downpour. I actually never saw a drop of water in either burrow, but that didn't stop me from panicking every time! More than once I was laying in mud in the middle of the night coaxing him to come out. Then he'd get to sleep in the bathtub for the night.
 

Canadian Mojo

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The potential issue I see with roof access is that the sun is beating down on the plywood lid right above the torts head. Instead of that you could make a raised tunnel with a back door. It would allow you to dump a lot of soil on top of the den area to help keep it cool and it would also be pretty flood proof.

The downside is that you would need a lot of soil to cover everything and you would be creating a pretty big mound in your enclosure.
 
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