My latest and most advance version of the Enclosed Chamber


Jan 3, 2018
Location (City and/or State)
Great job Mark. This is something a lot of tortoise keepers have been wanting. So nice to be able to purchase and not have to worry if you put the right things in and where to locate them. I think the price is excellent. I would sure be interested in purchasing one from you.


New Member
Oct 19, 2018
Location (City and/or State)
Auburn, CA
Mark, I’m interested in ordering one of your expandable 8’x3’ setups. I live in Auburn, so it would be easy for me to pick up with no shipping. How do I get you my contact information so we can connect?
Bruce LaBelle


New Member
Nov 24, 2019
Location (City and/or State)
Richland, WA
I decided to put all my wish list items in a chamber and build one to incorporate everything I would want. I also want to build these to offer to the folks who buy my Burmese Star hatchlings and would like a great enclosure all set up and ready.

Here it is almost ready to go. I will follow with the build details...

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The enclosure unit is 36" x 48" and 26" tall. It is modular and either side can come off and two can be put together to make a 3 x 8 chamber when the tortoise gets larger instead of loosing the value of the original chamber. I do feel hatchlings do better in an enclosure that is not too large. So this solves that problem in it being expandable as they grow.

I am building out of expanded PVC sheets. No need to seal and paint, and very durable. Easy to work with and fairly light weight.

The clutter of cords and timers and thermostat is always a problem, so I decided to build everything in and pre wire. The only wire coming out of the enclosure is the cord to plug in the whole unit.

Here is the top I am starting to wire for the lights. I have loved the LED lights and the very low heat they emit, yet very bright light. This enclosure will have four ceiling fixtures for ambient light. I use 2 15 watt grow lights in the rear and two 11 watt 5000K LED in front. That is very bright lighting and just a total of 52 watts. Plants thrive in this lighting. IN the very center I put a 3 foot T5 UVB. The cord is installed and ready to plug into the fixture. Rear center (red/white wires) is the CHE. Forward center (blue/white) is the basking light.

I am wiring in two thermostats and have the sensor probe wires coming from the panel of the wiring chamber I am building into the top front of the enclosure. This gives flexibility in moving the sensors if desired later. The space above the doors is a 5" deep separated chamber for all the wiring so it is isolated from the humidity of the enclosure. The front panel can come off to access the wiring if needed.

Here is the top with the wiring laid out.

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The top is a double layer of 1/2" board on the top and a 1/4" board for the "ceiling". This forms an area for the wiring so it is not visible inside the camber and routed out of the way. My tools and wire spool are sitting in the area that is the wiring chamber. The top is sitting here upside-down. Wiring is almost run except for the last two ceiling fixtures that go on you right viewing it here. (black and white wires)

Here it is with the 1/4" panel installed.

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The whole chamber screws together very easily. Easy to move the pieces and assemble where you want it. Takes me about 1 hour to assemble the whole chamber. Here is the top with it installed in the chamber. You can see the fixtures and the plug ins ready for the various items.

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Here's a view of the front so you can see the wiring chamber. I have 4 outlets installed on the left. I need:
Ambient light
All on their own circuit.

The Larger white cord wrapped up is the only cord that will exit the chamber to plug into a wall outlet.

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Now the front panel with the thermostats installed in it is wired up along with all the items so it is ready to go.

IN the picture below - From the leftmost outlet:

1st smart timer has the UVB plugged in
2nd smart timer has the ambient lighting plugged in.
3rd smart timer has the thermostat for the basking light (overheat protection) and then the basking light plugs into that thermostat.
The 4th outlet has the heating thermostat plugged in and the CHE is plugged into that thermostat.

The two thermostat sensors are just hanging down into the enclosure and are adjustable for placement from there.

The power cord exits the chamber on either side through a hole.

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Here it is with the front panel in place and everything ready to go electrically.

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Here is a view showing all the fixtures I use and their placement.

The tow LEDs in the back are a special grow light that I am really pleased with. Puts out a nice natural white light but is weighted towards good red and blue for plant growth. I use their 15 watt versions to keep heat down. They have 30 and 40 watt versions, but I would need sunglasses for all the baby tortoises.

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With all the lights on it is a very bright, daylight simulating light. With the timers I sequence the light cycle to mimic daytime a bit.
The basking light goes on before and stays on after the ambient lighting, creating a dawn and dusk, warm lighting.
The ambient is on 14 hours.
The UVB is on 6 hours midday.

Everything is visible on an app on your phone to see what lights are on/off and what the temperatures are through a sensor in the enclosure.

Here are the lights all on:

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Next I installed the doors. I use swinging doors that are double pane. I like to see the tortoises and not look through a fog of condensation on the windows. The best doors I have built are plexiglass double pane. With plexiglass I can totally seal the double panes. IF you try to do it with glass, and silicone or whatever you use, moisture will eventually seep into between the panes and the condensation is worse than ever. These plexiglass doors work wonderfully and I make them so the frame is clear as well.

Here are the doors on :

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Finally the planting. I have come to the current method of creating plenty of real, live plant cover in the enclosure for natural hides and great humidity. The tortoises seem to do much better and I am anticipating much better growth with them pushed under plants the bulk of the time. I have a spare older enclosure I use for my nursery:

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So I always have plenty of great, healthy plants for the enclosure. This is for very young and smaller tortoises, of course, as a larger tortoise will demolish plants. For them I use hanging plants that they can only reach up and trim so far, yet push beneath as their natural hides.

Here is the enclosure again, almost ready for some of the new Burmese Star hatchings that are going to be my "plant cover rainforest" experiment.

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That’s gorgeous. I joined the forum just to say so.

I’m planning on adopting an Ibera this summer. It’ll spend summer outdoors but be kept awake indoors. I am now SERIOUSLY torn between building a tort table (original plan) or buying one of these from you!


New Member
Nov 24, 2019
Location (City and/or State)
Richland, WA
That’s gorgeous. I joined the forum just to say so.

I’m planning on adopting an Ibera this summer. It’ll spend summer outdoors but be kept awake indoors. I am now SERIOUSLY torn between building a tort table (original plan) or buying one of these from you!

Adding: if you decide to sell plans and a materials list, for those who like to DIY (or for whom shipping is unfeasible) I’d be interested in that too.