Help with new outside enclosure

mrbamber

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We have a 5 year old horsefield tortoise, who so far has lived only inside in the custom built enclosure we made him. See pics. We are in the NW of england where temps in spring/summer months range from maybe 5-25degrees. (5 at its coldest in night in spring).

We currently put him outside just on warm days in a rabbit run to keep him safe.

We are now having our whole garden redone and will be trying to build an enclosure into the plans. Currently I am thinking of making him an enclosure in the corner of the garden like in this video here -
(at about 1 min 30 ) they show making a cinder block enclosure and covering in dirt to create a cave.

I can easily create this in the corner of the garden and then allow him free roam of most of the garden, where we are having raised sleepers which would keep him safe from roaming too far.

However my worries are what about any heating? Should I be putting something in the enclosure, a light/heatpad or something, if he is sleeping out there at night will it not get too cold? Is there some kind of temperature monitor I can get for the cave that can link to google app or something? Also do I need to think about netting/cover for all the area from cats/rats or whatever.

I have looked at many of the pictures and see some have very simple enclosures like a cold frame (we could put one of these in the corner of the garden easily) others have very impressive built sheds. Budget isn't really an issue. I think I prefer the cave type enclosure and things to look more natural if possible. Allowing him free roam of the garden is also preferable.

Other notes
He currently has a funny hibernating schedule at the moment, only hibernating about 4 months, this last year he hibernated from Dec to about March but the previous year hehibernated from Sep to Dec, so its slowly shifting.I assume this is because he has always been inside for most of his time and he doesnt know when are the good times of year.
 

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Blackdog1714

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Build a smaller version of the nightbox and your tort can decide when to come outside on the cooler days
 

mrbamber

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yes I did consider maybe need a box like that thanks, do you think this could be sunk like a cave? or could I take the elements of what is there such as heater/fan/thermometer and build it in the cave?

Or am I going the wrong way trying to make an enclosure like a cave? each night he seems to like digging into the fake cave we have created him to sleep. His substrate has always just been soil which he always wants to dig down into.
 

wellington

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I also agree, build a night box, like Tom has threads about and if you want to bury it, you can, just leave the top exposed where you can open it and place a small space heater like Tom uses.
I would put the heater on a thermostat and set it to 65 for night time. Higher if you think he needs added heat for day time. Your tort can take temps down to 60. If you want him to stay out/up all winter then I would build an above ground insulated and heated shed so he has lots of room to roam if it's too cold to go outside.
 

Blackdog1714

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keep the box above ground and think how a cooler works-it is insulated on all sides, top and bottom. This will maximize your heat control whether higher, lower and electric consumption. If it is big enough the tort could have space to walk around with never leaving the box on many of your questionable weather days! Good Luck
 

Yvonne G

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I'm of the school that believes Russian tortoises don't need extra heat when living outside. A lot of folks in the UK (you're in the UK, right?) use a piece of window glass and make a little cold frame shelter for the cooler days.
 
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