New outdoor enclosure in Oregon for large Russian tortoise female

Miranda Rose

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Jan 26, 2015
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Hi,
Working on creating an outdoor enclosure of my Russian Tortoise to use this year as the weather warms up, and I have a few questions.

1. What is the minimum temperature to leave her outdoors at, daytime/nighttime? I have been taking her out in the yard with me when I do chores anytime it is about 60 degrees F or more. Is it okay to have her out in an enclosure all day at that temp?

2. Substrate... indoors, we use coconut coir. Outdoors, the area is just grass right now. I am needing to add a digging barrier, at least around the edges. She does not dig a lot, but I don't want to give her a chance to escape that way. I was thinking of layering up on top of the grass instead of trying to dig out the sod. I would put a layer of chicken wire for security on top of the lawn, then cover with black landscape cloth to kill grass. I would then add a few inches of what? Regular garden soil? Compost? Bark chips? A combo?

She does climb, so two cinderblocks high is a minimum to keep her in, I think.

For night time, I was either going to bring her indoors again, or maybe lock in a "house" made of an animal crate for the night. We don't have coyotes or other large predators, but there could be a cat or raccoon. I think a cat-carrier size crate would keep her safe for just the night time hours (with substrate in it)

here is a picture of the area and a trial set up of the blocks...... Not the final set up. Needs to be measured more accurately so I can fit the blocks in two even layers. Need to fix the substrate. It is around 3 feet wide and 8-10 feet long.

Thanks for your thoughts. I want her to have a safe and healthy place to enjoy the summer weather. (she gets to roam the yard when someone is outside with her).
 

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tortdad

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I don't keep Russians so I can't help much. Just know that they are escape artists so you'll need to make it bullet proof.
 

naturalman91

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i can't help because i'm not versed in russian's but welcome from a fellow Oregonian

are you in northern or southern oregon?
 

Miranda Rose

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East of Portland, but still low elevation. I know rain/drainage could be an issue in the enclosure in the Spring/Fall. Some parts of my lawn get boggy, but this area drains fine. It gets sun until about 3 pm, and is not visible from the street (quiet, residential neighborhood, but very private back yard). My 9 year old is helping with the design. I should upload some of her drawings of tortoise habitat ideas for Corwin (the tortoise). They are funny.
 

Cowboy_Ken

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So the digging will occur. Sooner or later. Often this will be in the corners. I've got 3/4"- gravel with weeds and grass for mine. As for temps, I'm on the west side of the Cascades so once night time temps stabilize around 55°f I start leaving them out. Cinder block 2 high should work for climbing, but I'd still cap the corners with an overhanging piece of plywood or something similar. Your idea for the small animal crate at night will work against raccoons but those gnawing rodents like mice find sleeping tortoises to be wonderful snack items. Cover all the openings with 1/2" hardware cloth. Hope this helps. ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1426715650.766122.jpg ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1426715686.398188.jpg
 

Team Gomberg

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I noticed more lawn to the right of your cinder block wall... Can you extend further out than the 3'? Trust me....you'll never think you went "too big" ;)

I'm in southern Oregon with a leopard. Can't really share much with you...but...

When I kept Russians, I used plywood walls. 12"tall with a 4"perimeter lip. Worked wonderfully and climbing out was never a possibility. I don't care how many cinder blocks are stacked...I've seen/heard of/read about too many climbing stories to ever feel comfortable with them. But that is my opinion..

Also, a locking night box is a great idea. Not sure I'd use a cat carrier but if you try it, let us know how it works out.

My leopard lives outside and will enjoy sunbathing on days that are in the 60s no problem. So, if your weather is in the 60s and the tort has access to both sun and shade, I'd say being outside is just fine.
 

leigti

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Hello, welcome to the forum. When I built my tortoise enclosure I did not have nice grass to put it on. I was scared that she would dig out so I put down one layer of the black weed cloth, and then hardware cloth. Then I added 6 inches of a combination of organic garden soil and Pete Moss mix together. Then planted Russian tortoise seed mix. And then I used 2 x 12 pressure treated boards and built the enclosure. I've blocked off each corner with a small board, they like to dig and climb in the corners, or any 90° angle. I put a hardware cloth cover on it also but you probably wouldn't have to do that. But I would recommend an overhanging lip all the way around the top to prevent her from climbing out.
From personal experience, make the enclosure as big as you can from the beginning or else you will just be adding on to it later, like I did :) even if you can bring it out to her three more feet from the house that would be great. My Russian likes to dig down and bury herself when she's ready to go to sleep at night, maybe you could bury the pet carrier halfway in the dirt and then block the entrance with a brick or cinderblock. Raccoons are very crafty, they can unhook the latches etc. So you have to really protects against them if they are a problem in your area.
Get yourself a little temperature gun and that way you can check the temperature inside the enclosure in various areas. It is amazing how warm it may be down there on the ground as compared to the air temperature. I bring my tortoise in at night if it's below 55. Or if it is damp and rainy out and below 65.
 
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