New Outdoor Enclosure and Hut

bugfam07

New Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2014
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Goodyear, AZ
I wanted to introduce my family and our 7 tortoises to the forum and show what we have done since getting them. I have not posted in this forum that much but have read a lot of good information on here and have tried to use that information to promote healthy tortoises.

I purchased 5 baby tortoises about 1.5 years ago from a guy here locally in Arizona. He does reptile rescue for a living. When we got them they were housed in an 80 gallon tank for the first year of their life’s and were let outside as weather permitted for exercise and sunbathing.

Around February I was helping my brother move out of his old house and when on our way there I almost hit a good sized tortoise that was in the middle of the road. I had my son jump out of the truck and move the big guy off to the side of the road and proceeded to knock on a few doors looking for its owner. None of the homes that I knock on knew of someone who owned a tortoise or was missing one so I left it on the side of the road hoping it would go back home. After finishing helping my brother we went back to the street where we left him and he was still there. So we went out and knocked on some doors to see if anyone lost a tortoise. We knock on all the homes on three different streets and no one claimed the tortoise so we brought it home. That’s how we got number six. Not sure on his age but is XX” from front to back. He was left outside with weeds for food (supplemented with the same food we feed our little ones), a water dish, and a simple enclosure my son built just to protect him from the hot summer sun in AZ.

This past August we decided that the little ones were getting too big for all five of them to be in one tank and built the walls for an outdoor enclosure and put them out there with grass to eat, several different weeds to eat, water, and the simple enclosure to let them sleep in. During this time they devoured the grass I had put down and all the weeds that were growing in their enclosure so I put up some other blocks and allowed them to graze in a larger area that was full of weeds do to the rains we have had here in AZ this late summer and fall. They ended up making the body of a VW bug that was sitting out back for parts their enclosure for the time being and were eating the weeds.

About this time a family on another street found a tortoise in their back yard and had asked the kids at the bus stop if anyone was missing a tortoise and my daughter thought that we were missing one because she could not find them all that morning before she left for school and told the mother of her friend that she was missing one. When my son got home from school around noon I asked him to look to see if he could find all the tortoises. He called me back about an hour later and said yes he found all ours and none were missing. By the time I got home from work though the family had brought over the tortoise and left it at our house. This tortoise has real bad pyramiding and hopefully we will be able to reduce them.

As it started getting colder here (60’s overnight) I decided it was time to build them a proper hut to live in with a heater for those cold nights (40’s – 50’s overnight) and I started working on their enclosure again. I have been working on the outdoor enclosure for a while and wanted to share my progress and what I have done with the help from my kids (my wife made me say this).

I decided that the hut would be about 4’ x 8’ for the base and is about 3’ (front) – 3.5’ (back) tall. This should give them enough room to live in for a while for those cold months with heat and then in the summer I can cool the area with a swamp cooler as well. The hut is fully insulated with R-13 insulation and will shortly have a vinyl door on it so it will hold the heat in better and the coolness in during the summer months.

full


In their outdoor enclosure we planted 13 different plants for them to munch on. I found the list of edible plants on this website and took the list to home depot with us to purchase them. We ended up planting the plants on one side of the enclosure and blocked it off so that the plants could take root and will be opening it back up in about 2 weeks for them to start eating.


full



A few questions I have for you all, now that I have introduced us to you.
1) What do people put on the floor inside the heated hut for the tortoises so it is not just hard wood to walk and lay on?
2) What would you recommend to put into the hut to ensure it has the correct humidity in there?
3) The last tortoise that was given to us was really pyramiding; will this go away if we keep it humid in the hut and provide the correct diet for him?
4) What do people use to supplement the diet of their tortoises that can be bought at the store?
 

bugfam07

New Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2014
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Goodyear, AZ
They are Sulcata Tortoises. I will take some pictures of them when I get home tonight. I couldn't find any from when we first got them.
 

Jodie

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2014
Messages
4,357
Location (City and/or State)
Spokane Valley WA
The pyramiding will not go away, but you can stop it from continuing. New growth will be smooth. I will let others answer the other questions. I have Leopards in the cold north, so i do things differently. Anxious to see pics of these guys.
 

Yellow Turtle01

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2013
Messages
7,787
Location (City and/or State)
OH, USA
Pig blankets! :D They work great.
http://www.osbornelivestockequipment.com/stanfield-heat-pads
Just a bucket of water... it evaporates, and builds up at the top, but the humidity can be quite nice with one. Agree with Jodie on the pyramiding :)
I buy kale, escoral, endive, spring mix... but it's hardly in the quantity that I need for winter, so as a lovely member had suggested, hay cubes are awesome!
I must also mention that I'm from the cold north too, so I house miss sulcata much warmer (all around, bigger, etc) in the winter, so I buy more 'packaged store foods' than just for supplements. :D
It looks great, you did a fabulous job!
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
87,902
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Hi, and welcome to the Forum! I must say, you've really taken this tortoise-keeping thing to heart. The heated shed is great. You can put substrate on the floor if you want. But it's easier to clean if you have a smooth surface. All my outdoor sheds have rubber horse-stall mats on them, then a pig blanket on top of that. But in Arizona I don't think you'll need the pig blanket. I think your electric heater will be sufficient. You might even think about hanging a CHE (ceramic heat emitter) from the ceiling, but make sure it's far enough above the back of the tallest tortoise to not burn his shell.
 

Team Gomberg

IXOYE
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
7,678
Location (City and/or State)
Southern Oregon
A few questions I have for you all, now that I have introduced us to you.
1) What do people put on the floor inside the heated hut for the tortoises so it is not just hard wood to walk and lay on?
2) What would you recommend to put into the hut to ensure it has the correct humidity in there?
3) The last tortoise that was given to us was really pyramiding; will this go away if we keep it humid in the hut and provide the correct diet for him?
4) What do people use to supplement the diet of their tortoises that can be bought at the store?

1- I lined the inside of my heated tort house with vinyl flooring. Covered the bottom and 6" up the walls so that I could use damp coco coir as a substrate. I don't want the damp "dirt" sitting on the plywood (mold issues) and I like that my tort can snuggle into the substrate vs. sitting on hard wood.
2- The damp substrate has worked great at keeping things humid inside the house :)
3- What's there doesn't go away but with a moderately humid environment, the new growth can come in smoother. I used to use hay as a substrate in the house, but the new growth was coming in dry. Since the humid, damp coir is in there, it's much better.
4- My leopard free grazes on the lawn. Since grass and weeds is the bulk of his diet, I don't mind occasionally offering Mazuri, Spring Mix, Herbal Hay, Red and Green lettuces.

some photos of my tort house's interior to give you an example:

219c95k.jpg


sdhi04.jpg


Hope this helps!
 

bugfam07

New Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2014
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Goodyear, AZ
Here are couple pictures of them this morning.
full

The one in the middle is the last one we were given.
full

This is another one.
full

This one wanted to get his spot by the heater.
full

This is the big one.
 
Top