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Heating An Outdoor Russian Night Box

Discussion in 'Tortoise Enclosures' started by Tom, Apr 8, 2015.

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  1. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I have been mulling this problem over for a long time now. The days here are plenty warm for a russian for most of the year. I hibernate them in winter, so they are fast asleep for the vast majority of the cooler days anyway. My problem is that we have cold nights here. Even with days in the 80s, night temps drop into the low 40's or high 30's in spring and fall. What I have been doing is collecting up all 20 russians, putting them outside once the day warms up and then hunting them all up every evening and bringing them back to their indoor enclosures for night time. This is a pain in the rear and very time consuming. Time is something I am in short supply of.

    So I came up with this:
    [​IMG]

    The box is too small and too low for a CHE or heat bulb, and I don't want it hot in there anyway. This is an 80 watt radiant heat panel http://www.reptilebasics.com/80-watt-radiant-heat-panel controlled by a Zilla thermostat. I mounted it all to the hinged lid on my semi-buried russian night box. Seen here: http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/semi-underground-russian-box.98590/ The lid opens and closes and the cords are tucked out of the way and fastened in place so the tortoises can't reach them and they can't fall down. I will be watching the temps in there for a few days before trying it out on the torties.

    The goal is to keep the night temps no lower than 65ish so they can just stay outside full time all year long (except when they are hibernating for 10-12 weeks in winter), and all I have to do is make sure they are all in the boxes every evening. Last summer it only took a few days to get them all using the night box every night.

    I'll keep you posted on the results.
  2. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    Excited to see your results!
  3. M249saw

    M249saw Member

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    I was trying to think of how to do the same in my Redfoot enclosure I'm building. My issue was housing a thermostat outside but this looks like it would work.

    Never used the Zilla stat, all I have are Herpstats.
  4. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I've been using this style of cheap thermostat in all sorts of applications for several years now. After years of use and over a dozen of them, I just had my first one fail about four months ago, but the failure was due to a flood.
  5. Jodie

    Jodie Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    What humidity level do you strive for in the outdoor box? Do you use any substrate inside? I have a Kane mat in one area and coco husk in another. I am using an oil filled radiant heater. I am getting cold spots in the substrate. I moved my tortoise onto the Kane mat last night and he stayed there. I am going to add a small fan today, but the humidity is up a bit and I am really worried about him getting cold.
  6. Yvonne G

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

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    As I see it, you still have the time issue because you have to go hunting for them to be sure they're put away. My russians won't use a hide or dog house. They just bury themselves under a clump of grass or under a bush and are terribly hard to find.
  7. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    What species and size? For my 4 year old leopards I keep it 80 degrees and strive for 50-70% humidity. For the russians I keep it 65-70ish and around 50-60% humidity.
    Jodie likes this.
  8. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    As you see it? Well Ms. Yvonne, if you had taken me up on any of my MANY invitations to come down for a visit, you would know that opening the lid and dropping them in, is much faster than putting them in tubs, walking across the entire ranch and then taking them all out of the tubs to put into their indoor enclosures.

    PLUS, last summer when I built this box, they all learned to use the box on their own within a few days and I didn't have to find them and put them in.

    :)
  9. Jodie

    Jodie Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I was asking about Russians, but need to know for my Leopards who will be outside soon. Thank you. The box is working great.
  10. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Jodie likes this.
  11. Jodie

    Jodie Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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  12. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Have you done a thread on your russian box? I'd love to see what you came up with. Most of my ideas for these things are stolen from other people's ingenuity.
  13. biochemnerd808

    biochemnerd808 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Awesome idea to use that radiant heat panel, @Tom . I'm going to look into that now. I have been looking at hound heaters, too (like this one: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00II71C72/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20). I am building a 5ft x 3.5ft cold frame right now that will be insulated, and has a double paned window on top. I would like to install some kind of heat in there to maintain 60 degrees in there at night. This will extend the 'outdoor' time by about 4 weeks on either end of our current April-September outdoor season!

    My personal favored brand of thermostat is the 'Hydrofarm' brand (like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Hydrofarm-MTPRTC-Digital-Thermostat-Heat/dp/B000NZZG3S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429592321&sr=8-1&keywords=hydrofarm thermostat). They are made for heat mats for starting seeds - they last FOREVER though, and don't seem to have the 'overheating' issues you read about some of the 'reptile' versions having. Have you worked with these?
    Team Gomberg likes this.
  14. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Never seen the Hydrofarm thermostats.

    Inside that Hound Heater housing is a simple CHE.
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  15. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    Hydrofarm is what I use too (along with quite a few other TFOers) I've used 3, no issues.
    Same price range as the Zilla and it's digital :D
    biochemnerd808 likes this.
  16. biochemnerd808

    biochemnerd808 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Yep, I love the Hydrofarm thermostats. I even use one to control my incubator (which has an unreliable dial thermostat), and that works great. :) Free plug for Hydrofarm... they probably don't even know that pet owners use them in addition to the many seed growers...
  17. Tidgy's Dad

    Tidgy's Dad Well-Known Member

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    Terrific idea.
    Hope it works out.
  18. mini_max

    mini_max Well-Known Member

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    Tom, how big is that box? My house will be roughly 29x19", so I'm just trying to get a handle on what type, and how powerful of a heater I'll need to warm a space of that size. I will have to use one like you did because there's not enough clearance to do a bulb. But I know nothing about them.
  19. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    If I recall that box is around 28x20" inside. I made t to fit 6 russian tortoises.

    The radiant heat panels are great and they can be found at:
    http://www.reptilebasics.com/rbi-radiant-heat-panels

    You just plug them into your thermostat. They are very safe and durable too.
    mini_max likes this.
  20. Oxalis

    Oxalis Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    My engineer fiance would love this!! :) Superior work!
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