Need Some Advice Before Beginning an Outdoor Enclosure...

SunnySideUp

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Messages
183
Location (City and/or State)
Michigan
I'm looking to start buying supplies for my 8' x 8' outdoor enclosure but I'd like to ask for some advice before I start putting a lot of work into the construction.
I plan to use two 8' boards stacked on top of eachother which I believe have a width of at least 10". If I buried the bottom board 4" below ground, would 16" of height be sufficient? Later when my tortoise is old enough to be outside for extended, unsupervised periods, I will be building a top for the enclosure.

When I build the lid for my enclosure, approximately what size should the holes in the metal cloth be to allow UVB rays to pass through?

I plan on digging out the foundation and laying down chicken wire on the bottom of the enclosure. Will the weight of the wooden frame on top of it be enough to secure the wire, or should I fold it up slightly underneath/use metal staples?

If I were to seed some grass in the enclosure, would seed that is used for lawns be safe? I have a Hermann's so he isn't a grass-eating species, really.

Finally (sorry for the excessive amount of questions :oops:), what plants would you suggest that would do well in the climate in Michigan? I know what plants are safe but I'm having trouble deciding what plants would do best functionally as shelter. So far I have bought some Forget-me-nots, fountain grass, and lavender because they're all perennials. I also am going to be putting up a grape vine in my backyard so I may be able to take a cutting of that.

Thank you very much for bearing my barrage of questions. I just want to make sure I'm doing everything right.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
89,006
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
I don't think there's any need to bury the bottom board. This will just make it rot quicker. Just place masonry caps along on the ground inside the pen.

07-11-13.jpg
 

WillTort2

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2011
Messages
1,250
I would staple or screw the chicken wire to the bottom. If you are going to cover the entire bottom with chicken wire or something heavier, then you do not need to trench. You could build the first square with 4) 8' x 10" boards; then staple the wire to the top side and then flip it over and place it where you need it. I would pick a high spot to prevent flooding, even with a 5" rain day. And I like the area to have some shade and some sun so the torts can regulate their temperature easier.

Then fill with top soil and add an additional 1 to 2 levels of boards for a total height of 20 to 30 inches. The higher you build it the better your plants will grow; just don't go so high that the sun is blocked most of the day. 24" makes a good height.

I would advise some type of protective top of 1/2" square hard wire welded grid. Also put a covered area for shelter from sun, rain, hail, etc.
 

SunnySideUp

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Messages
183
Location (City and/or State)
Michigan
@WillTort2 You're right, if I secure the chicken wire to the bottom frame I wouldn't have to dig a ditch. I'm not sure why I was making it more difficult for myself, haha.

There's an open area in our yard that has partial sun and shade during the hottest part of the day but it is in a lower area. However, the ground is on a slight downward incline. If I were to put some drainage holes in the frame covered with some sort of netting, would that make atleast the inside of the enclosure safe from flooding? Water never pools in that area.

I'll take a picture of a few building site options later so I can get a few opinions about the best location.

Those masonry caps are also a great suggestion, @Yvonne G . Thank you both for your help.
 

leigti

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2013
Messages
7,030
Location (City and/or State)
southeast Washington
I don't have a Hermans tortoise, am I right that they have a diet similar to a Russian tortoise? Mostly broadleaf plants and weeds and not much grass? If so you can get broadleaf seed mixes from Tortoise supply.com or Carolina pet supply.com. I have planted those and they grow like crazy!
 

WillTort2

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2011
Messages
1,250
@WillTort2 You're right, if I secure the chicken wire to the bottom frame I wouldn't have to dig a ditch. I'm not sure why I was making it more difficult for myself, haha.

There's an open area in our yard that has partial sun and shade during the hottest part of the day but it is in a lower area. However, the ground is on a slight downward incline. If I were to put some drainage holes in the frame covered with some sort of netting, would that make atleast the inside of the enclosure safe from flooding? Water never pools in that area.

I'll take a picture of a few building site options later so I can get a few opinions about the best location.

Those masonry caps are also a great suggestion, @Yvonne G . Thank you both for your help.

Hi Sunny,

If your spot is not near the bottom of the slope then the flooding should not be much of an issue. If possible you can elevate the downhill side by putting a couple of bricks or masonry caps under the downhill side until the wood on the sides is level; if you do not have a level, just take a jar of water and use that to determine the levelness of the sides. The bricks will also allow water to exit the downhill side. Top soil will sift through the wire grid to fill the area under the wire on the elevated side. Put enough top soil on the grid to allow you tort to fully bury himself. Putting some interior walls within the enclosure will make the exploration more interesting for your tort and provide more corners for hiding.

Good luck.
 
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top