Is my tortoise enclosure big enough? - I've seen a tonne of conflicting information

oajm8

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
Brighton
Hi everyone!

I've been a long-time lurker here and am quite shocked I'm only just signing up now!

I absolutely love my two Russian Horsefield tortoises, Florence and Matt (Matt is a girl, Florence is a boy, and we refuse to swap the names now we know their genders 😂

Anyway, Matt, the larger tortoise, has a habit of scratching the walls, so much so that (s)he can essentially get vertical against the wall and stand up on his back legs scratching at the wall

I really try to treat them well and give them really varied diet, as well as changing the substrate every couple of weeks. (It's about 5" deep but they don't dig much tbh)

About a year go, my girlfriends Dad build this enclosure for them. The walls are 12" high. And the enclosure is 1.5ft wide by 4.3ft long.

I've included a picture with a satsuma for scale 139717558_233252648422889_1709073473089881289_n.jpg
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Yes it is way too small and the reason for him trying to climb the walls. One adult russian needs at least a 4x8 foot enclosure. Two Russians should not be housed together one will bully or constantly try to breed the other to death.
I can't believe you have not come across this info already if you have been lurking.
 

oajm8

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
Brighton
Yes it is way too small and the reason for him trying to climb the walls. One adult russian needs at least a 4x8 foot enclosure. Two Russians should not be housed together one will bully or constantly try to breed the other to death.
I can't believe you have not come across this info already if you have been lurking.

Thanks for the input - I will definitely look at getting a larger enclosure that isn't an issue. Besides building another one myself, do you have a suggestion on where to get a good enclosure from?

The second point is interesting. We've not had any issues whatsoever with this
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
The size enclosure you need is probably best built. You could look into raised garden bed frames. Might be cheaper to build though. There are also some pop up green houses I like using for cheap.
Most bullying goes unnoticed to the inexperienced. A tort not eat good, always hiding, seldom coming out of its shell are just a few signs most miss. If you have a Male and female, the male will not stop bother her to breed until she is sick or dead. Two males will fight until one is dead or sick. Two females will fight but there is a slight chance they won't. Either way tortoises do not want and should not be kept in pairs.
 

oajm8

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
Brighton
The size enclosure you need is probably best built. You could look into raised garden bed frames. Might be cheaper to build though. There are also some pop up green houses I like using for cheap.
Most bullying goes unnoticed to the inexperienced. A tort not eat good, always hiding, seldom coming out of its shell are just a few signs most miss. If you have a Male and female, the male will not stop bother her to breed until she is sick or dead. Two males will fight until one is dead or sick. Two females will fight but there is a slight chance they won't. Either way tortoises do not want and should not be kept in pairs.


Your advice is well taken and appreciated and I will admit my inexperience on this - I moved with my GF and they are hers so I'm just trying to make sure they are healthy and happy.

I have noticed a fair amount of mating but both seem very active and we certainly haven't seen any biting or ramming - My WFH desk is about 1ft from the enclosure so I am a pretty consistent observer. With that said I do find this interesting and I will look into the best way to handle this. At the moment (We are moving in the next 5 months) I do live in a smaller flat so space is something of an issue but money isn't an issue and I'm willing to do whatever I can do make sure they're well accommodated.

I will keep watching out for more signs of fighting but right now my current thinking is to get a larger enclosure and separate if needs be. Once I move house I will look to get two separate enclosures.

You're a star wellington, thank you.
 

maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
Location (City and/or State)
Crazy Train
Your advice is well taken and appreciated and I will admit my inexperience on this - I moved with my GF and they are hers so I'm just trying to make sure they are healthy and happy.

I have noticed a fair amount of mating but both seem very active and we certainly haven't seen any biting or ramming - My WFH desk is about 1ft from the enclosure so I am a pretty consistent observer. With that said I do find this interesting and I will look into the best way to handle this. At the moment (We are moving in the next 5 months) I do live in a smaller flat so space is something of an issue but money isn't an issue and I'm willing to do whatever I can do make sure they're well accommodated.

I will keep watching out for more signs of fighting but right now my current thinking is to get a larger enclosure and separate if needs be. Once I move house I will look to get two separate enclosures.

You're a star wellington, thank you.
Just to let you know tht is simply the best advice available. Wellington just really knows what she's talking about...welcome
 

oajm8

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
Brighton
The size enclosure you need is probably best built. You could look into raised garden bed frames. Might be cheaper to build though. There are also some pop up green houses I like using for cheap.
Most bullying goes unnoticed to the inexperienced. A tort not eat good, always hiding, seldom coming out of its shell are just a few signs most miss. If you have a Male and female, the male will not stop bother her to breed until she is sick or dead. Two males will fight until one is dead or sick. Two females will fight but there is a slight chance they won't. Either way tortoises do not want and should not be kept in pairs.

Hey

I'm sorry to bother you again I know this isn't your job or anything but in the interests of making sure I don't mess this up do you think you could perhaps suggest a raised garden bed frame/pop up green house? I'm looking on Amazon and they all seem too small!

Thanks
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I will keep watching out for more signs of fighting but right now my current thinking is to get a larger enclosure and separate if needs be. Once I move house I will look to get two separate enclosures.

Its not about overt actual combat. Give this a read from @Yossarian on another thread:
"Many people come here with posts almost exactly like yours, they all say the same things, asking why one of their torts is growing slowly, that their torts get along great, they cuddle up together and eat together, etc. . . . The reality is torts dont like being around each other. Initially they will both try to get the best spot to bask and the best spot to sleep and they will try to defend all the food by sitting on it, this looks like them being buddies but they really just want the other one to take the hint and leave. Once one tort becomes dominant then it will sleep where the submissive tort sleeps, bask where it tries to bask and it will try to defend all the food and prevent the smaller one eating. In the wild the submissive tort would move on and that would be it, in your enclosure that doesnt happen so the submissive tort just gets constantly hounded and stressed, doesnt eat as much, doesnt bask as much, etc. . . . health problems develop, illness, death. . . . none of this even includes the obvious risk of actual aggressive fighting, biteing, mounting, ramming etc. . . . Most dont want to accept this guidance unfortunately, I know its inconvenient and/or sad to find out you need to keep them separate or rehome one etc. . . it's the right thing to do though."

I think this explanation was very well worded.

I also agree that a much larger enclosure is needed. Side should be at least 16 inches taller than the surface of the substrate.

There is no need to change your substrate every two weeks. If you spot clean poop and leftover food, you really never need to change the substrate.

There is a lot of old outdated incorrect info circulating around in the world. Here is the current and correct care info:
 

oajm8

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
Brighton
Its not about overt actual combat. Give this a read from @Yossarian on another thread:
"Many people come here with posts almost exactly like yours, they all say the same things, asking why one of their torts is growing slowly, that their torts get along great, they cuddle up together and eat together, etc. . . . The reality is torts dont like being around each other. Initially they will both try to get the best spot to bask and the best spot to sleep and they will try to defend all the food by sitting on it, this looks like them being buddies but they really just want the other one to take the hint and leave. Once one tort becomes dominant then it will sleep where the submissive tort sleeps, bask where it tries to bask and it will try to defend all the food and prevent the smaller one eating. In the wild the submissive tort would move on and that would be it, in your enclosure that doesnt happen so the submissive tort just gets constantly hounded and stressed, doesnt eat as much, doesnt bask as much, etc. . . . health problems develop, illness, death. . . . none of this even includes the obvious risk of actual aggressive fighting, biteing, mounting, ramming etc. . . . Most dont want to accept this guidance unfortunately, I know its inconvenient and/or sad to find out you need to keep them separate or rehome one etc. . . it's the right thing to do though."

I think this explanation was very well worded.

I also agree that a much larger enclosure is needed. Side should be at least 16 inches taller than the surface of the substrate.

There is no need to change your substrate every two weeks. If you spot clean poop and leftover food, you really never need to change the substrate.

There is a lot of old outdated incorrect info circulating around in the world. Here is the current and correct care info:

Hey Tom,

Again massively appreciated. I'm not massively sentimental about separating them if it's for the best. That isn't an issue for me. It's more about space in the flat but I'm moving soon and I'll make sure it's resolved. Just further to the question I asked above. Do you have any suggestions on where to get an enclosure from? I see Planters/Gardens beds suggested but none seem to be big enough!

Thanks
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hey Tom,

Again massively appreciated. I'm not massively sentimental about separating them if it's for the best. That isn't an issue for me. It's more about space in the flat but I'm moving soon and I'll make sure it's resolved. Just further to the question I asked above. Do you have any suggestions on where to get an enclosure from? I see Planters/Gardens beds suggested but none seem to be big enough!

Thanks
Someone from the UK recently posted pics and a description of a custom cage they were getting. I can't remember who or how to find it, but it was the first time I'd seen custom tort enclosure that were large enough. And they weren't all that expensive either. Its out there. Anyone reading remember how to find that thread? I think it was yesterday or the day before???

Most people have to build them, or have someone build it for them. Its just not practical to try and sell 4x8 foot enclosures in a store or on the internet, and all the stupid pet shops keep telling people they only need a tiny little ready-made tort table that isn't good for any tortoise of any size or species.
 

Mizcreant

Well-Known Member
Location (City and/or State)
Cincinnati, OH
Its not about overt actual combat. Give this a read from @Yossarian on another thread:
"Many people come here with posts almost exactly like yours, they all say the same things, asking why one of their torts is growing slowly, that their torts get along great, they cuddle up together and eat together, etc. . . . The reality is torts dont like being around each other. Initially they will both try to get the best spot to bask and the best spot to sleep and they will try to defend all the food by sitting on it, this looks like them being buddies but they really just want the other one to take the hint and leave. Once one tort becomes dominant then it will sleep where the submissive tort sleeps, bask where it tries to bask and it will try to defend all the food and prevent the smaller one eating. In the wild the submissive tort would move on and that would be it, in your enclosure that doesnt happen so the submissive tort just gets constantly hounded and stressed, doesnt eat as much, doesnt bask as much, etc. . . . health problems develop, illness, death. . . . none of this even includes the obvious risk of actual aggressive fighting, biteing, mounting, ramming etc. . . . Most dont want to accept this guidance unfortunately, I know its inconvenient and/or sad to find out you need to keep them separate or rehome one etc. . . it's the right thing to do though."

I only wish more folks would heed that advice. Oftentimes, folks will associate tortoise mannerisms with that of dogs and humans; hence thinking it is "cute". Those folks are seldom convinced.
 

oajm8

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
Brighton
Someone from the UK recently posted pics and a description of a custom cage they were getting. I can't remember who or how to find it, but it was the first time I'd seen custom tort enclosure that were large enough. And they weren't all that expensive either. Its out there. Anyone reading remember how to find that thread? I think it was yesterday or the day before???

Most people have to build them, or have someone build it for them. Its just not practical to try and sell 4x8 foot enclosures in a store or on the internet, and all the stupid pet shops keep telling people they only need a tiny little ready-made tort table that isn't good for any tortoise of any size or species.

I've found a bookcase - 200cm x 100cm. Seems like a massive improvement over what I have. I could put liner down and use that. What do you think?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I've found a bookcase - 200cm x 100cm. Seems like a massive improvement over what I have. I could put liner down and use that. What do you think?
Not my preferred way. Book cases are usually flimsy and require substantial modification to work. Also built from the wrong materials, and the sides are too short. Easier to just build something to the correct specs.
 

maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
Location (City and/or State)
Crazy Train
Hey

I'm sorry to bother you again I know this isn't your job or anything but in the interests of making sure I don't mess this up do you think you could perhaps suggest a raised garden bed frame/pop up green house? I'm looking on Amazon and they all seem too small!

Thanks
This isn't anyone's job. As an example, Wellington is here because she loves tortoises and is volunteering her advice because she wants tortoises to live a happy healthy life. Most of us are online friends here and a lot of our conversation is social. Most are intelligent, experienced and polite, there are meanie people and brusk replies, but it's a great place to spend time on a subject we all love
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Hey

I'm sorry to bother you again I know this isn't your job or anything but in the interests of making sure I don't mess this up do you think you could perhaps suggest a raised garden bed frame/pop up green house? I'm looking on Amazon and they all seem too small!

Thanks
Never a bother. Always happy to help. Here are a few ideas in picture.
As for the dresser, I think it would work. Specially seeing its temporary.
Screenshot_20210116-194728_Chrome.jpg Screenshot_20210116-194532_Chrome.jpg Screenshot_20210116-194357_Chrome.jpg Screenshot_20210116-194311_Chrome.jpg
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Krista S

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
Someone from the UK recently posted pics and a description of a custom cage they were getting. I can't remember who or how to find it, but it was the first time I'd seen custom tort enclosure that were large enough. And they weren't all that expensive either. Its out there. Anyone reading remember how to find that thread? I think it was yesterday or the day before???

Most people have to build them, or have someone build it for them. Its just not practical to try and sell 4x8 foot enclosures in a store or on the internet, and all the stupid pet shops keep telling people they only need a tiny little ready-made tort table that isn't good for any tortoise of any size or species.
I did some searching and found it. This is the link to the enclosure: https://southdown-aquatics.co.uk/shop/8ft-vivariums/8ft-x-2ft-h-x-3ft-d-vivarium-copy/ And it came from this thread: https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/husbandry-advice-for-adult-horsfield.188786/#post-1904768
 
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