Outdoor enclosure ideas

Nov 11, 2015
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hi everyone!

I am planning to build a new, much larger outdoor enclosure for my leopard tortoise. My old enclosure was more of a tall gardening box with a lid, 5'x3'. However, I am now re-landscaping most of my yard and I have now arrived at a corner that seems perfect for a tortoise enclosure. It is in the perfect place for sun, putting in a heated house, and more or less, hidden and protected from predators. Whats great is that I am able to use our house as two of the sides of the enclosure. As you can see from the pictures below, the wall is 12 feet long on the short side, and I can build out to 15 feet to our path. I am super excited to create an awesome looking enclosure with cool landscaping. However, I have two dilemmas:

1) What to do with the top of the enclosure. I am planning on building a 12 foot long, 2 foot high wall out of wood coming off of the wall, as well as a 13 foot long, 2 foot tall wall coming off of the shorter house wall. On top of the wood, I am planning on putting in a wire fence that goes 4-5 feet above the ground. However, I do live on the edge of a mesa and there are plenty of, mostly, coyotes and hawks above, along with a few raccoons. My current "tortoise box" is secure and latches in place, but I would love for this one to be a little more open. During the day, we don't need to worry about coyotes, only hawks above. And at night, a secure, locked tortoise house provides enough protection from coyotes, which can't get over a 4-5 foot high barrier anyways. On top of that, there is nothing for them to go after inside of the enclosure as far as they can see (We have chickens and have had no problem for the past 5 years). Long story short, would a shade cloth above the enclosure that is high enough to walk under, but blocks the view from the hawks from above, covering the entire enclosure, be enough protection? I would really love to be able to keep it as open in the top as possible.

2) A heated house. Our shed, which is part of our house, is attached to the future enclosure. There are plenty of safe outlets right there, but I am concerned of electrical shocks and wiring that could be fatal, especially in rain and wet weather. Should I buy a reliable, pre-built dog house that is water proofed and put a water proof heat pad inside?

Here are some photos, mind you, the plant on the left will be taken out but the long grasses will stay. The grass grows out nice and high and provides awesome shade and makes the enclosure look super nice. Any ideas on how to plant, build, predator proof, etc. this enclosure? I have a few but would love love love suggestions!
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