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Neal

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I'll share what I have going on with my tortoises for the winter. I think it's practical and relatively simple. I've done this for 3 winters now and it has worked great!
Here is the outside:

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You can see it's made of standard concrete blocks which make good insulation. I take this down during the spring, and I don't mind moving all these blocks back and forth so it works for me. I'm not exactly sure what the top is, some kind of panel board that's water resistant. You can find a 4' * 8' peice of it at Lowe's or Home Depot for around $15. I find it easier to not have hinges on the lid so I put handles to open it and close it.
My Indian Stars are in the smaller one on the left, the leopards on the right.

A view with the lids open.
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The lids have 1 inch insulation on the top and around the interior walls.

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This shows the light fixtures in the star box one for an MVB and one for a CHE, the leopards have the same thing except they have 4 fixtures.

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I'm not an electrician so I don't care if you laugh at this, but this shows somewhat how it is wired. I have an extension cord coming in through the cut 2*6 connected to a surge protector. From the surge protector another extension cord connects power to the leopard enclosure.


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You can’t see it all in this shot, but another surge protector is connected that has 2 separate timers on it, one for the MVB and one for the CHE. I connected a power cord from each of the timers that runs through a light switch to make it easier to turn off either fixture when the tortoises aren’t in there. The light fixtures are ceramic and the boxes they connect to are long enough that they don’t heat up the 2*3’s they are connected too to dangerous levels.
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This is the door and my awesome shoes. The board is ½ inch and fits perfectly inside the slits of the blocks. On the bottom I have a hole big enough for the tortoises to enter and exit, I can block this with another piece of wood to prevent them from getting out on a cold night.

This is a shot inside the leopard box with my female in a corner. The substrate for both boxes is just dirt and peat moss.
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The star box with lid open.
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I had to cut off one end of the extension cord to fit it through the PVC pipe, this is to protect it from getting wet.
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If you couldn’t tell, a lot of the materials I used were just stuff I had lying around. I have had the leopard hide box up for three winters now, the star box I just made and the whole thing head to toe cost less than $150 which I think is reasonable for what it offers. We rarely have more than a two day stretch during the winter here where I can’t take the tortoises outside so the MVB’s really aren’t necessary, but I like using them. The CHE’s are 150 watt and maintain a nighttime temperature in the high 80’s directly under it, and in the outer edges of the box it stays in the high 70’s to low 80’s. The temperatures are the same during the day with the lights on, except a little higher underneath the lights. It may be too much in some aspects or could be simplified, but this works and I am pleased with it. My tortoises seem to like it and that’s the important thing.
 

Balboa

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As an electrician I can say I like it alot more than other setups I've seen. Possibly improveable, but it looks to be generally safe.

Great job and great write up!
 

onarock

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neil, I had to laugh...i was looking at pic 3 and snickering at your choice of conduit 90's because I am also an electrician. And when I scrolled down to pic 4 you state dont laugh im not an electrician and I was like .....too late. Verry nice though I like it. something kinda funny you might not know but im sure balboa does. you know your at an electricians house because the electrical is usually unfinished. No cover plates, blowing off that switch replacement the wife has been bugging you about. fixtures not hung with blanc covers in the ceiling. load center panel cover on with 2 screws. every electrician i know is like this. ha
 

Neal

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Thanks, I was worried what the electricians would say lol. Pretty good for an accountant I think, but if either of you want to come out and make it all properish I can do your taxes in return.
 

ALDABRAMAN

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That looks great! What I use to do was fill the blocks with 2/4's and fill full of sand. I really like your concrete wall around your yard.
 

Tom

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Great post Neal and a great set up. There is a lot of attention to detail there, like adding the peat to the dirt for example. Thats a great electrical set-up for any non-electirician tortoise keeper. One of the cleanest I've seen.
 

DeanS

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I remember a couple weeks back, Neal asked if we've seen smoother leopards than his...maybe there were a few! I doubt there are ANY 'smoother' hides than his...with the probable exception of "The Mother of ALL Tortoise Boxes"

Neal...GREAT job and VERY innovative! ;)
 

Neal

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Thanks, it's practical for small to medium sized tortoises. Probably wouldn't work for sulcatas or aldabras.
 
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Maggie Cummings

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They look exactly like Yvonne's except she has vinyl strips in the door way. It's a good job, I'm not an electrician so I know nothing about the wires, BUT...you have no covering over the bulbs, and as a tortoise person I would say that having the bulbs that way don't direct the UVB waves down in a cone shape like they should be. So they are just bouncing around in no particular direction and I'm thinking that having the bulbs that way lessen the strength of the UVB waves. I am having a really hard time describing what I mean so I hope you can understand what I am trying to say. And please don't take any offense as I don't mean to be insulting in anyway. They are great houses but I really think you need to have the cone around the bulbs to direct the UVB and heat waves in a specific direction...What do you think?
 

Neal

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I understand what you are saying and I actually think you're right...but for me I really don't need the UVB radiation for the adults. The bulbs I am using have been rotated from my young tortoises enclosure from replaceing them every year. I really use them for the heat they produce and the light which they still work for that. I think if I put a cone on there it would direct the heat down to one spot and I want the heat around the entire hide box. I'm in AZ so even in the winter we will have days that get in the upper 60's to 70's which is OK for adult tortoises to get out and have some time in the sun.

now thinking about it, heat rises, so maybe the heat radiation would be more effective if it was directed downward then out...something for me to think about, thanks Maggie! I also intend on putting in some vinyl flaps too.
 
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Maggie Cummings

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Neal Butler said:
I understand what you are saying and I actually think you're right...but for me I really don't need the UVB radiation for the adults. The bulbs I am using have been rotated from my young tortoises enclosure from replaceing them every year. I really use them for the heat they produce and the light which they still work for that. I think if I put a cone on there it would direct the heat down to one spot and I want the heat around the entire hide box. I'm in AZ so even in the winter we will have days that get in the upper 60's to 70's which is OK for adult tortoises to get out and have some time in the sun.

now thinking about it, heat rises, so maybe the heat radiation would be more effective if it was directed downward then out...something for me to think about, thanks Maggie! I also intend on putting in some vinyl flaps too.



I understand what you are saying as I use old bulbs for Bob all Spring and Summer for heat basking inside and get a new MVB bulb for him at the beginning of winter when he won't be going out much and our days are cold and gray so it doesn't do much good to go out UVB wise in the winter.
I do think to direct the heat bulbs straight down first would do better for what you need them to do...just a suggestion...
I have vinyl flaps in Bob's doorway too and even in the middle of a snowy cold spell the heat stays inside like it was intended, and Bob can still come and go. I love those vinyl flaps..:)
 

Yvonne G

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maggie3fan said:
They look exactly like Yvonne's except she has vinyl strips in the door way.

I wish! These are way more neat and safe than mine.
 
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