Planning new indoor enclosure

vladimir

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I figured I'd start my own thread because I'm sure I will have tons of questions. Vladimir is going on 3 years old now and is outgrowing his current indoor enclosure, a 300 gallon rubbermaid stock tank. I'd like to build him a permanent indoor enclosure in a spare room, and we're fortunate to have a room that is about 14' x 28' in which to construct the home. We can't use the entire floor space, as we still need some room to walk around, but I am going to dedicate a minimum of 8' x 16' for the enclosure. Bigger is a possibility also.

I guess the main question I have is - is it crazy to try to construct a two story enclosure for a sulcata?

My original plan (assuming 8' x 16' ) was to make a night box that was 4' x 8' and then have a 12' x 8' area with substrate for him to enjoy. But the more I look at some of the awesome enclosure members have built, my mind got wandering and I started thinking - what if the night box was on the elevated so that he could still use that 4' x 8' section of floor space?

Hopefully someone with more experience can tell me if I'm being too ambitious here. I know it would need to be be built to be extremely sturdy, but I would love to get every square foot of space possible for him.

Thanks in advance!

(apologies if this should be in the enclosure section - I thought it may be more relevant here)
 

Big Charlie

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Several people have built 2 story enclosures. Make sure the ramp isn't too steep and has sides to prevent the tortoise from falling off. At least one person has built a nightbox for a sulcata that was elevated with a ramp. I don't know that you'll need an actual nightbox if the entire closure is heated, maybe just a humid hide?
 

vladimir

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The reason I was thinking of doing a proper night box as part of this enclosure is because the room is on the cooler side and is pretty large, so this would ensure he always had a warm place to go in case the house was a bit chilly. We primarily use a wood stove for heat, so the temperature in the house goes up and down.
 

Big Charlie

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The reason I was thinking of doing a proper night box as part of this enclosure is because the room is on the cooler side and is pretty large, so this would ensure he always had a warm place to go in case the house was a bit chilly. We primarily use a wood stove for heat, so the temperature in the house goes up and down.
Are you going to be providing a basking spot and UVB? You might want to put in a radiator for his room so it will be warm everywhere. 4 x 8 seems pretty large for the nightbox when the rest of the room is pretty small. If it just for sleeping, it needn't be that big. A 4 x 4 will accommodate a large sulcata.
 

vladimir

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Yep there will definitely be at least one or two basking areas. My thinking with the larger night box would be that it could provide him with a nice area where the ambient temperature and the humidity were ideal for him at all times.

My current plan:

The room has hardwood floors that I would like to preserve, so I plan to build a little platform of 2x4s and 1/2" plywood (measuring 8' x 16' or so) and then put a 2' wall around the entire thing. I'm thinking of using a pond liner or something similar to line the entire thing to protect the platform from the moisture, and then fill the 8x16 area with substrate.

I was thinking of then taking a quarter of the area (4x8) and building a night box. Ideally this will be elevated about two feet, giving him access to the 4x8 dirt area underneath his raised nightbox.

I was also thinking of elevating one quarter of the platform at the far side by a 12-18" and making a slight hill, as he seems to enjoy climbing up and down hills when he's marching around.

Now this might be a bit too ambitious, but I was trying to figure out some way to build in a basin or something in the quarter that's 12-18" higher. I was hoping to figure out something where I could have a drain in the basin and then run a pipe out the side to allow me to put a 5 gallon bucket under it to drain the water. Trying to think about soaks when Vlad is 50 pounds :)

Of course I've never built anything remotely like this so this could be a huge disaster, but the little guy deserves the best attempt I can make at it.

Some questions - is the pond liner idea necessary? Would I be better off using a waterproof primer or something to protect the wood of the enclosure platform?

Has anyone attempted any kind of built in soaking facility in their enclosures? Is my idea flawed?
 

Big Charlie

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I think the pond liner is a good idea. Even if you use a waterproof primer, the wood will eventually get wet.
 

vladimir

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Sounds nice! I recently build a 12’x20’ winter enclosure for my 50 pounder in the house and he is loving it

Awesome - what kind of floor was in the room when you started? Did you use a liner or any anything additional on the ground before adding the substrate?
 

SULCY

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I just built an 8'x16' enclosure for mine but it is in my basement and the floor is cement with plastic liner over it and the sub straight on top. I also gave him a night box with it own heater and thermostat and the main area also has a heater on a thermostat. The whole think is covered to keep in the humidity. Just used foam board insulation for the top easy to take on and off.
 

vladimir

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I just built an 8'x16' enclosure for mine but it is in my basement and the floor is cement with plastic liner over it and the sub straight on top. I also gave him a night box with it own heater and thermostat and the main area also has a heater on a thermostat. The whole think is covered to keep in the humidity. Just used foam board insulation for the top easy to take on and off.

Sounds similar to my plan - do you have any pictures of your setup you could share?
 

vladimir

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We settled on 8x16 footprint for the enclosure. I went with 23/32" plywood and 2x4s for the floor, and 2x10s for the walls. I got some Kennel Seal from walmart.com and applied 3 coats to the floor.

I decided to go with a heavy duty tarp instead of a pond liner to cost savings. Hopefully it will be enough protection.

As of now I'm planning on making a 4x4x2 night box heated by a mini radiator this weekend [emoji16]

I'll post some pictures soon. It's been over a month since the project started and Vlad is getting impatient [emoji849]
 

vladimir

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Some updates since this started in early February:

The floor
upload_2018-3-28_8-21-40.png

with the walls up:
upload_2018-3-28_8-25-8.png

the homeowner performing a progress inspection : :D
upload_2018-3-28_8-27-0.png

2-3 coats of Kennel Seal on the wood on the floor/walls. I also added some floor underlayment as an additional barrier:
upload_2018-3-28_8-29-29.png

We just finished constructing the night box and the raised platform where his box will be. I'm working on painting those now, then I still need to figure out a ramp to get him up to the night box. We also measured a little off and the roof doesn't quite fit on the box, so I've got some adjusting that needs doing too.

I hope for him to move in by May 1st! :):tort:
 

SULCY

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Looks great, With my night box I attached it to the enclosure so no ramp. I know people here who use a ramp but do not know how they use it. Mine is also 8x16 gives you some time before they need something larger and they can be left outside.
 

vladimir

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the raised platform / "porch" and box construction:

upload_2018-4-12_12-3-52.png

You can see one of the sides of the box leaning against the platform

Applied two coats of Drylok to the platform as it will be in with the substrate, followed by two coats of Kennel Seal. Did the same thing for the box as well.

upload_2018-4-12_12-7-48.png

You can see he'll have an area underneath to hang out:

upload_2018-4-12_12-8-16.png

upload_2018-4-12_12-8-37.png
 

vladimir

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I went with the thickest tarp I could find on Amazon to save cost. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B072592N11/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

I also wasn't sure how I'd properly secure a pond liner without tearing it, so I figured using the eyelets in the tarp as mounting points might work better.

upload_2018-4-12_12-13-37.png

The ramp coming together:
upload_2018-4-12_12-13-56.png

I ended up buying extra foam insulation, so I added some 1" insulation to the bottom of the porch/platform.

upload_2018-4-12_12-14-52.png

The night box was built using 1" insulation along with 1/2" insulation inside the panels, as my Lowe's didn't have 1.5" insulation in stock.
 

vladimir

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I was also thinking of elevating one quarter of the platform at the far side by a 12-18" and making a slight hill, as he seems to enjoy climbing up and down hills when he's marching around.

Now this might be a bit too ambitious, but I was trying to figure out some way to build in a basin or something in the quarter that's 12-18" higher. I was hoping to figure out something where I could have a drain in the basin and then run a pipe out the side to allow me to put a 5 gallon bucket under it to drain the water. Trying to think about soaks when Vlad is 50 pounds :)

My initial ideas were a bit ambitious, so for now the entire enclosure is one level without a hill, and the built in soaking basin will have to come in the future as well. My next challenge is to find enough orchid bark to fill the enclosure. I'm going to start hitting the garden centers.
 
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