Insulated Night Box?

Katie Giles

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This might be a stupid question but here goes anyway. We are finalizing our outdoor enclosure ideas for our Russian. We are planning on an enclosed house that latches, that opens to a welded wire cage with additional access to an open area with taller plants and more room to roam for when he can be supervised. We are having to make use of a current planter bed because it's the sunniest area of the yard. Most boxes I've seen are insulated but nighttime temps in summer here (Central Texas) are generally in the 70s, so he shouldn't need an insulated box, unless I am missing something? He will come back inside during colder months.
 

Blackdog1714

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You can scale this down, but a heated nightbox allows you to not worry about the outdoor temps if they dip and extends the outdoor season.
 

wellington

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You are correct that a heat insulated night box is not needed. Russians do fine in temps down to 60 and even 50-55 if its not continuous and they can warm up in the sun the next day. I do not have one for my Russian.
However, as Blackdog said, you could if you wanted and he could probably be out longer in the cooler months if not all winter with one.
That's up to you.
 

Tom

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This might be a stupid question but here goes anyway. We are finalizing our outdoor enclosure ideas for our Russian. We are planning on an enclosed house that latches, that opens to a welded wire cage with additional access to an open area with taller plants and more room to roam for when he can be supervised. We are having to make use of a current planter bed because it's the sunniest area of the yard. Most boxes I've seen are insulated but nighttime temps in summer here (Central Texas) are generally in the 70s, so he shouldn't need an insulated box, unless I am missing something? He will come back inside during colder months.
Used in the way you intend to use it, and with the temps you mentioned, you have no need for an insulated box.

But why would you want to do it that way? You live in a GREAT area for housing tortoises outdoors. Russians are super hardy and tolerant of a wide range of living conditions. Your tortoise should be outside in that large area most of every year. I'd only have him inside for hibernation in winter, or keeping him up in winter if that's the way you choose to go. Having an insulated night box with thermostatically controlled heat will allow you to keep the tortoise outside much earlier in spring, even when Mother Nature throws those spring cold spells at us, and much later into fall when temps start dipping.

Two kinds of heat:
1. Ambient temp. All Testudo species should have a cool down at night, but if I'm not ready to hibernate, I don't want it to be TOO cool. I like adults to drop down into the mid to low 60s at night. In my area we have sunny days usually in the 60s and 70s from late November to early March. But our nights typically drop into the 30s or 40s during that time of year. Setting the background ambient heat to 60ish, allows my temperate tortoise species to enjoy the warm sunny days, without getting so cold at night that they can't/won't/don't function during the day. It staves off hibernation and keeps them active longer into the year, and allows me to bring them out of hibernation earlier in the next year. I'm not using this heat to keep them "warm". I'm just preventing them from getting too cold. Mini radiant oil heaters work well for this, but CHEs or RHPs are suitable for this application as well. You'll need a well insulted properly sealed box for this to work, and of course a thermostat to control the heat.
2. Basking heat. "For a temperate species in my warm climate???" , you might ask. Yes! The weather starts to warm up in Feb or March where I live. I wait for a 7-10 day warm spell and begin the irreversible process of waking them up from hibernation. Well it never fails that old man winter and Mother Nature haven't finished torturing us with their cold winter weather, and they hit me with "un-seasonal" cold spells well into spring sometimes. A week 50 degree days and rain in May is common. I know this happens in Texas too. After the tortoise is up and eating after hibernation, a cold rainy spell with temps in the low 50s during the day, and night temps in the 30s, just won't do. I defeat the elements with my 60ish degree nights, and by providing a basking lamp on a timer INSIDE the night box. This basking lamp will click on at sunrise and slowly warm the whole box up into the 70s or low 80s, and it offers a warm area directly under it where they can bask and get their little bodies up to correct operating temperatures. A timer clicks the light off near sunset. I only use this heat lamp when temps are too cold and skies are overcast. If its warming into the mid 60s or more, and its sunny, no need for basking bulbs in an outdoor enclosure.

This combination of "natural" living, plus a little electrical help only when needed creates OPTIMAL conditions for any temperate species for most of every year in a nice climate like ours, and it at least extends the time outside for tortoises that live in less favorable climates that get snowed in annually.

It's explained in more detail in this thread. Pics too:
 
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