Heating An Outdoor Russian Night Box

Tom

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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:
111qslt.jpg


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.
 

M249saw

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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.
 

Tom

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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.


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.
 

Jodie

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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.
 

Yvonne G

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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.
 

Tom

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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.

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.
 

Tom

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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.

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.

:)
 

Jodie

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

Tom

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Jodie

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Tom

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I have. That is the plans we used. The Russians box has been up n running for a couple of weeks and the much larger leopard box is about half built.

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.
 

biochemnerd808

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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?
 

biochemnerd808

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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...
 

mini_max

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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:
111qslt.jpg


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.
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.
 

Oxalis

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