Multi Level Enclosures to increase sqft

TyoteeT

New Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2021
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Logan, Utah
Howdy!

Ever since I was a kid I've wanted a tortoise, and now that I'm 23 I'm finally fulfilling that dream and have decided on a Russian Tortoise. Now I'm still going back and forth between getting an adult or a baby (It's technically my first pet other than betta fishes), and while I am willing to put in the effort I am just nervous about what is best for the Tortoise. However, my question is more focused on enclosures, which I know is a pretty hot topic in the community.

I see a lot of enclosures that are insane, and while I can build a nice sized one I would like to try something different, and here's where the wild thoughts come in. What about an enclosure that gives a lot of vertical space? Something about 2x3' with soft slopes going to platforms each ~6-8" up (total most likely ~2'), plenty of space to hide and explore with thick rails to prevent the tortoise from falling (although I have figured that if the tortoise does fall by some miracle it would only fall maybe 5 inches, no more). I would love to provide something like that for a tortoise, and I think the little thing would have a good time!

Unless I'm wrong, please let me know. I want my tortoise to live a long, healthy life, and I am willing to do what it takes.

Thanks for taking the time to read, let me know if this is cool or not!
 

Krista S

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
717
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
Welcome to the forum @TyoteeT

I’m not sure I can completely envision what you’re thinking of with the measurements you’ve given. I think drawing out a blueprint and thinking about functionality would be a good thing to do. One thing to keep in mind is that each level should ideally be 18“ to 24” high. This is to allow sufficient substrate without the tortoise being able to crawl right out of the enclosures. Russians are professional escape artists. This height also allows for the proper lighting, heat and UV fixtures to be installed and gives the owner the ability to be able to properly clean the enclosure and do the daily shores, like cleaning and refilling water and food dishes. If each level is 2ft x 3ft, the ramp to go up to the next level will be way too steep. The other thing to keep in mind is that each level will need its own lighting, heat and potentially UV setup. This will add a lot of extra expense upfront for bulbs and fixtures, but also down the road for electricity. There are many examples on the forum of people who have made multi level enclosures. Do some searching to gain more insight. I recently had an enclosure built for my Hermann’s tortoise and I considered every imaginable concept. I’m not trying to crush your dreams of the multi level enclosure, I just want to share what some of my findings were when considering this for myself. Whatever you are strongly considering doing, I highly recommend drawing a blueprint, or if you can, make a little mock-up of it using boxes or other things you might have in your house. Really try and visualize your plan and how you and your tortoise will use the enclosure. This helped me a lot. At one time I also considered an L shaped enclosure that went in the corner of the room where I keep my tortoise. I was fixated on this idea for awhile, but then I got some painters tape and taped out the outline on the carpet of what I was thinking of in my mind. In less than a minute I scrapped the idea because it just didn’t translate the same and the functionality of it wouldn’t be great. Take your time and really think through things to make sure you’ll be happy with the finished product. One thing you should figure out first is if you want a baby or an adult. Babies are recommended to be in a closed chamber for the first part of their life.

Here is the best care sheet you can find for Russians, incase you haven’t already seen it.

 

TyoteeT

New Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2021
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Logan, Utah
Welcome to the forum @TyoteeT

I’m not sure I can completely envision what you’re thinking of with the measurements you’ve given. I think drawing out a blueprint and thinking about functionality would be a good thing to do. One thing to keep in mind is that each level should ideally be 18“ to 24” high. This is to allow sufficient substrate without the tortoise being able to crawl right out of the enclosures. Russians are professional escape artists. This height also allows for the proper lighting, heat and UV fixtures to be installed and gives the owner the ability to be able to properly clean the enclosure and do the daily shores, like cleaning and refilling water and food dishes. If each level is 2ft x 3ft, the ramp to go up to the next level will be way too steep. The other thing to keep in mind is that each level will need its own lighting, heat and potentially UV setup. This will add a lot of extra expense upfront for bulbs and fixtures, but also down the road for electricity. There are many examples on the forum of people who have made multi level enclosures. Do some searching to gain more insight. I recently had an enclosure built for my Hermann’s tortoise and I considered every imaginable concept. I’m not trying to crush your dreams of the multi level enclosure, I just want to share what some of my findings were when considering this for myself. Whatever you are strongly considering doing, I highly recommend drawing a blueprint, or if you can, make a little mock-up of it using boxes or other things you might have in your house. Really try and visualize your plan and how you and your tortoise will use the enclosure. This helped me a lot. At one time I also considered an L shaped enclosure that went in the corner of the room where I keep my tortoise. I was fixated on this idea for awhile, but then I got some painters tape and taped out the outline on the carpet of what I was thinking of in my mind. In less than a minute I scrapped the idea because it just didn’t translate the same and the functionality of it wouldn’t be great. Take your time and really think through things to make sure you’ll be happy with the finished product. One thing you should figure out first is if you want a baby or an adult. Babies are recommended to be in a closed chamber for the first part of their life.

Here is the best care sheet you can find for Russians, incase you haven’t already seen it.

I will definitely do that, I started sketching it down when you mentioned making a blueprint and quickly realized that my plan didn't consider substrate depth, which really could have screwed me over. Thanks for reminding me to check my ideas. I'm now considering something less complex but still multi-story, as I don't really have the necessary 8x4' im seeing around the threads.

Also THANK YOU for including that post, I've read so many guides and care sheets with conflicting information, this one seems really helpful. I've read a couple of this users posts, definitely knows what they are talking about.

Also after skimming the link a bit I think I might go with a baby Russian, as long as I get the enclosure, humidity/temperature, and daily routine down I should be good! I'm still a month or so out, but I am stoked to take care of such beautiful creatures.
 

Krista S

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
717
Location (City and/or State)
Saskatchewan
I will definitely do that, I started sketching it down when you mentioned making a blueprint and quickly realized that my plan didn't consider substrate depth, which really could have screwed me over. Thanks for reminding me to check my ideas. I'm now considering something less complex but still multi-story, as I don't really have the necessary 8x4' im seeing around the threads.

Also THANK YOU for including that post, I've read so many guides and care sheets with conflicting information, this one seems really helpful. I've read a couple of this users posts, definitely knows what they are talking about.

Also after skimming the link a bit I think I might go with a baby Russian, as long as I get the enclosure, humidity/temperature, and daily routine down I should be good! I'm still a month or so out, but I am stoked to take care of such beautiful creatures.
You’re welcome. We are here to talk all things Tortoise related, so if you have any other questions or ideas you want an opinion on, don’t hesitate to ask. Your observation about @Tom is an accurate one. I suggest forgetting what you’ve heard on YouTube or other websites and follow Tom’s care sheet. He has decades of experience and has laid it all out for us so we can avoid making harmful mistakes.

It is very exciting to get your first tortoise. The best advice I can give you (outside of following the care sheet) is to have your enclosure fully set up with temperatures, humidity and UV dialled in before bringing your tortoise home.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,137
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Howdy!

Ever since I was a kid I've wanted a tortoise, and now that I'm 23 I'm finally fulfilling that dream and have decided on a Russian Tortoise. Now I'm still going back and forth between getting an adult or a baby (It's technically my first pet other than betta fishes), and while I am willing to put in the effort I am just nervous about what is best for the Tortoise. However, my question is more focused on enclosures, which I know is a pretty hot topic in the community.

I see a lot of enclosures that are insane, and while I can build a nice sized one I would like to try something different, and here's where the wild thoughts come in. What about an enclosure that gives a lot of vertical space? Something about 2x3' with soft slopes going to platforms each ~6-8" up (total most likely ~2'), plenty of space to hide and explore with thick rails to prevent the tortoise from falling (although I have figured that if the tortoise does fall by some miracle it would only fall maybe 5 inches, no more). I would love to provide something like that for a tortoise, and I think the little thing would have a good time!

Unless I'm wrong, please let me know. I want my tortoise to live a long, healthy life, and I am willing to do what it takes.

Thanks for taking the time to read, let me know if this is cool or not!
Tortoises aren't a vertical space kind of animal. They live on the ground. Having said that, if its well executed, a multilevel could work. Russians are also notorious for climbing, so this would be the species to try it with. Not how I would do it, but I can't find fault with it, as long as its done safely where the tortoise can't find a way to fall.
 

Mrs.Jennifer

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Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 22, 2020
Messages
362
Location (City and/or State)
Norwich CT
Here is a recent thread of someone who wanted to do the same thing. Maybe there will be additional info that could help you...

 

Mr_Under_Hill

New Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2020
Messages
8
Location (City and/or State)
Big Rapids
Hello! I built this for my Natasha last summer and there isn’t a day that goes by where she doesn’t climb up her ramp at least once. The base is 4x4 with the corner cut off to make the upper level. Couldn’t tell you the exact dimensions, though... 6DF79519-D6A4-4217-AA92-ACE77BC7F214.jpeg
Edit: The UV light blocks it, but the platform has a fence preventing her from falling.
927A3E1F-0FDD-4CCF-81FA-0D38A4725484.jpeg
 

PA2019

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2017
Messages
340
Location (City and/or State)
Gainesville, FL
Howdy!

Ever since I was a kid I've wanted a tortoise, and now that I'm 23 I'm finally fulfilling that dream and have decided on a Russian Tortoise. Now I'm still going back and forth between getting an adult or a baby (It's technically my first pet other than betta fishes), and while I am willing to put in the effort I am just nervous about what is best for the Tortoise. However, my question is more focused on enclosures, which I know is a pretty hot topic in the community.

I see a lot of enclosures that are insane, and while I can build a nice sized one I would like to try something different, and here's where the wild thoughts come in. What about an enclosure that gives a lot of vertical space? Something about 2x3' with soft slopes going to platforms each ~6-8" up (total most likely ~2'), plenty of space to hide and explore with thick rails to prevent the tortoise from falling (although I have figured that if the tortoise does fall by some miracle it would only fall maybe 5 inches, no more). I would love to provide something like that for a tortoise, and I think the little thing would have a good time!

Unless I'm wrong, please let me know. I want my tortoise to live a long, healthy life, and I am willing to do what it takes.

Thanks for taking the time to read, let me know if this is cool or not!


I built a large 8x3x2 pvc tank and then added a 2nd story 8x1 for more space. I find that my star tortoises use the 2nd level quite a bit and feel Russian tortoises would appreciate a 2nd level as well!

https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/8’-x-3’-x-2’-two-story-xpvc-build.184725/
 
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