Designing an outdoor enclosure

idcowden

New Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
15
Location (City and/or State)
Walton-on-Thames
Hi all,

Our spur thigh tortoises are now getting a little bigger (about 11-12 cm) and I am working out an outdoor enclosure for them. I am in the UK, Surrey, South East England - we generally get London temperatures.

This is an aerial view of the garden. The enclosure is going to be where the blue tarpaulin (at the moment I have a tortoise table outside which I have been using in better weather.
Garden.jpg

My idea is to build something along these lines:-

tplan.PNG
The edge of the garden is a brick wall. From there wooden walls going to the pond. Walls to go down 12" below the ground and about 12" above the ground.
Given the mountain climbing tendencies of these tortoises, I think a curved chickenwire fence around the bush and edging stones of the pond is required. Again, the bottom of this would be well below the ground.

The longer wall is 3.6m (11.8 feet in old money) and the shorter wall3.2m or (10.5 feet). The proposed distance between the two walls is 4.5 feet (140cm)
The cold frame is 90cm x 78cm (3ft x 2.5ft).

Cold Frame.jpg

I'm planning to lift the cold frame on 2x4s with a nice entrance for the tortoises to get in and out. I'm also planning on constructing a mesh "lid" for the enclosure as the tortoises are still small enough to make a heron a nice snack.

I was thinking of using some guttering to create a little waterfall from the pond waterfall that the enclosure is adjacent to. This would land in a little shallow pond which would drain back into the main pond through the chickenwire fence. Obviously it has to be secure so the tortoises can't try water skiing their way into the pond.

FInally, I am planning to fit a heat lamp inside the cold frame to make it warm in colder weather, controlled by a thermostatic switch and probe.
This area of the garden gets sun from just after sunrise until early afternoon.

Obviously some shade plants (maybe honeysuckle) and some rocks etc to make a nice environment. I am presuming the base can be left as grass / soil?

Any advice, changes, ideas, would be welcome!
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
39,864
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
How many do you have and what are the sex of them or r8e they still too small to sex?
They don't do good in pairs and a group would need a much bigger space. One single adult needs at a minimum a 4x8 foot.
The cold frame will be hard to keep warm if it gets really cold. They would need an insulated and heated night box. If it gets too hot from the sun they won't be able to stay in it and would have no choice but to go out in the cold. Unless you plan on hibernating them in winter.
 

idcowden

New Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
15
Location (City and/or State)
Walton-on-Thames
How many do you have and what are the sex of them or r8e they still too small to sex?
They don't do good in pairs and a group would need a much bigger space. One single adult needs at a minimum a 4x8 foot.
The cold frame will be hard to keep warm if it gets really cold. They would need an insulated and heated night box. If it gets too hot from the sun they won't be able to stay in it and would have no choice but to go out in the cold. Unless you plan on hibernating them in winter.

There are 3 of them. The enclosure will be 4.5ft x 11ft ish (I may be able to increase it to 5ft x 11ish. They are all girls (so I am told). It rarely gets very cold in the South East of England. Haven't thought about hibernating them yet.

I was thinking that the cold frame would give them somewhere warm and sunny if it wasn't so warm and sunny outside. The alternative would be a setup a bit like Tom's one. A sort of dog kennel affair.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,124
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I think this idea looks great. Your thermometer will have to be your guide regarding the cold frame and the weather, but in theory, it looks wonderful. Your plans sound good too, but be aware that they will use chicken wire like a convenient tortoise ladder. If there is a wire roof of some sort over it, that won't be an issue. This set up will work well for most of the year, but you'll need to bring them indoors or hibernate them in winter.

I agree with Barb that 11x5 is a bit on the small side for three adults. It is certainly adequate for one adult, but I'd still prefer bigger. My similarly sized Burmese stars live in something around 8 x 28 feet. I have a group of six stars in about 22x28 feet, just for reference. Greeks can be quite a lot more territorial and scrappy than my stars too, so extra space will be important. At 11-12cm, your babies aren't little babies anymore. Can you cut farther into the bushes on the left? Or come farther out into the yard? Maybe an "L" shape that uses you original area, and also runs along the stream area?

Ideally, they would also have some bare dirt areas along with the grass. For this species, I'd only make about half of the enclosure grass, but this is not a deal breaker. They can do fine on all grass or no grass.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
39,864
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
I don't know your weather, but the cold frame would work good for the colder sunny days as long as it doesnt get too hot in there
Yes go bigger, Tom suggested a couple ideas you could possibly do.
But winter will need something different. The night box alone would be too small for winter unless you have above 60F days. Otherwise an indoor set up or hibernation.
 

idcowden

New Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
15
Location (City and/or State)
Walton-on-Thames
I think this idea looks great. Your thermometer will have to be your guide regarding the cold frame and the weather, but in theory, it looks wonderful. Your plans sound good too, but be aware that they will use chicken wire like a convenient tortoise ladder. If there is a wire roof of some sort over it, that won't be an issue. This set up will work well for most of the year, but you'll need to bring them indoors or hibernate them in winter.

I agree with Barb that 11x5 is a bit on the small side for three adults. It is certainly adequate for one adult, but I'd still prefer bigger. My similarly sized Burmese stars live in something around 8 x 28 feet. I have a group of six stars in about 22x28 feet, just for reference. Greeks can be quite a lot more territorial and scrappy than my stars too, so extra space will be important. At 11-12cm, your babies aren't little babies anymore. Can you cut farther into the bushes on the left? Or come farther out into the yard? Maybe an "L" shape that uses you original area, and also runs along the stream area?

Ideally, they would also have some bare dirt areas along with the grass. For this species, I'd only make about half of the enclosure grass, but this is not a deal breaker. They can do fine on all grass or no grass.

Thanks Tom,

I can definitely go further into the bushes, possibly as far as 11x7 but definitely as far as 11x6.
An L shape would be problematic in a number of ways The area is actually half dirt / half grass. As you get nearer the wall and the trees, the grass stops growing/.
 

Canadian Mojo

Active Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
160
Location (City and/or State)
Ontario
I'd be worried that chicken wire would be the right size to stick legs and head through, especially since it deforms pretty easily. That could lead to some gruesome injuries if anyone got stuck.

Small enough hardware cloth would be safer, and, as an added bonus, nicer to work with. It would also be more expensive and still present the climbing risk.
 

idcowden

New Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
15
Location (City and/or State)
Walton-on-Thames
Hardware cloth (new term to me!) is actually what I have in the shed. I got some quite tight mesh to mouse proof the guinea pig cage when we had guinea pigs. It all tends to get called chicken wire in the UK.

I'm planning to create a lip and lid to avoid any mountaineering expeditions.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,124
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hardware cloth (new term to me!) is actually what I have in the shed. I got some quite tight mesh to mouse proof the guinea pig cage when we had guinea pigs. It all tends to get called chicken wire in the UK.

I'm planning to create a lip and lid to avoid any mountaineering expeditions.
Interesting. You taught me today that "chicken wire" might have different meanings in different parts of the world. Thank you.
 
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top