Protected Outdoor Enclosure Ideas...

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-ryan-

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Some of you are familiar with the problems that I have been having in my yard with human predation (luckily none of my animals have been effected yet), and therefore understand why they spend the vast majority of their time in indoor housing, but I was recently brainstorming about how I might do things differently when I move in a couple of years, and here are some of the ideas I came up with:

-6' privacy fence: We have a chainlink fence right now and the yard is easily viewed from three roads. Several people who I don't even know have already asked me what the big wooden box with a screen top (my small 6'x6'x2' outdoor russian enclosure), and that bothers me. Out of sight, out of mind, so I think this is the first step I will have to take.

-Enclosure Dimensions: Initially I was thinking that the smartest thing to do would be to build reinforced walk-in enclosures, but again, the structure would have to be about 7' tall and I'm sure it would be visible even above a privacy fence, so now I am thinking that sticking with a lower height and building reinforced tops might be the best idea, because less people will know that they exist.

-Foliage: I think this goes along with the low sided enclosure idea, but planting lots of foliage around the enclosures should also help keep them out of sight.

-Disguise/Confusion: I'm also an avid gardener and hope to have the vast majority of the yard in my future home planted with fruits, vegetables, etc., and I am working with raised beds right now. Raised bed gardens with bird cloth over them would bear a striking resemblance to tortoise enclosure with hardware mesh tops (especially since both of them are heavily planted).

-Keeping my mouth shut: When I was asked what the wooden box in the backyard was, I stupidly replied that it is a pen for my tortoises. I think the most important thing that I can do given my situation is to just avoid letting anyone know that the tortoises are back there.

It's unfortunate that I have to come up with ideas to keep humans out of my tortoise enclosures, but with the problems we had in the past summer I know it is necessary. I don't plan on keeping the tortoises outdoors when we are not outdoors in our current home (my fiancee and I are living with my parents for the time being), but I really want to be able to change that in our future home. Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Another thing I just came up with: Making sure that the enclosures are heavily planted and offer a lot of hiding areas. At times this past summer when the russians were out in their small outdoor enclosure it took us quite a while to find them all in the foliage. I assume that they will spend a lot of their time hiding/blending in in that case and be less likely to attract any attention.
 

Yvonne G

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All good ideas!

I live on a corner, so I have two street sides. On the side of the main street, there is little to no foot traffic and the speed limit is 55mph. Also, my lot is elevated, so even though the county regulation says I have to have that frontage fence only 3' tall, if anyone were to walk along that side of the house, they would be down on the road, which is 10' down a bank.

On the other street frontage, which is also elevated, I have a 10' section running alongside the outside of the fence and this is planted with cactus. They are spaced so that you can walk around and through, but it is so un-welcoming that no one ever walks up there. They stay down by the street as they walk by.

Also, I make sure that all the tortoises are inside their houses at night. And I have a sign on my fence that warns people that there is a guard dog on duty.
 

Stephanie Logan

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You probably can't do this where you are now, but several of our neighbors have privet hedges, which you may already know about (being a gardener). They are shallow but tall bushes that grow tall enough to be a barrier, but a pretty green one that does not need paint, and not much water, since they grow here in our semi-arid climate. :D
 

Tom

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Its sad that you have to think this way. Have you always lived in that sort of neighborhood? If you ever get out you won't believe how different you'll feel.
All of your ideas for camouflage and hiding are great, but if you are outside with them it shouldn't matter. Aren't you worried about them trying to come inside the house?

I don't like the chainlink privacy fencing. You can still see through it and its not good for your torts to rub against, if you ever build a ground level tort enclosure. I prefer block walls, but wood or vinyl is cheaper.

I love the idea of cactus and or prickly bushes outside the fence. This definitely keeps the snoopers and opportunists away.

Prevention is always good, but I'd get prepared for what seems to be an inevitable confrontation, given your description of your neighborhood. I've got 3 big, protection trained dogs and a little one too. Two of them are national champions at the hardest protection sport in the world. Mine never bothered the torts and they did a great job of cleaning up the tortie poo.

If you don't like or want dogs, how about a nice 12 guage and some classes for how and when to properly use it. Mine solved a few problems for me during the L.A. riots a few years back.
 

kimber_lee_314

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I have a six foot fence all around my yard and my pens look like little planters. Unless you're really looking for them, you can't even see them (most of the time.) Only my close friends and family know I have tortoises - I keep it pretty quiet. A friend of mine uses large chain link dog kennels (inside his fenced yard.) They are open on the ground (so can be well planted) and have a walk in door with a lock. The top is chain link and it's too heavy to lift without a few people to help. I looked into this a little - but the kennels were too expensive for me because I have too many. But if I just needed one enclosure this would work great. (I have seen some for sale on craigslist from time to time.) Good luck!
 
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Maggie Cummings

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I am restricted by how tall a fence can be. It's gotta be 4 feet or less and mine's a 4' chain link fence that totally surrounds my property. But Bob's pen is visible from the street and anyone can walk right up to it, as it's an empty lot right next to my lot and Bob's pen. So I planted roses all along that fence and then protected them from Bob by a line of cinder blocks stacked 3 tall. All the roses have reached the top of the fence and several are taller then the fence. They are close enough together that a person wouldn't want to get between them. I also ran sheets of lattice along the chain link so it's not easy to see thru, overlapping sheets of lattice and the roses so I feel pretty good about Bob's pen. Then even if someone tried to see they can't see my other pens as they are all mobile; I use small fences that I can move around my yard. Jordan is going to help me build a new box turtle pen and one for Queenie and those can't be seen from the street either. I never let anybody know what I have here and Bob is really the only animal visible.
You just can't trust people and I figure that a person who would snatch a turtle from someone, wouldn't know how to care for that turtle anyway...
 

TylerStewart

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I'm a firm believer that there's nothing better than a good guard dog.... It's a huge deterrent. If people are getting barked at, they'll just keep moving, not wanting to be seen. Meet "Daisy." She's the one of two bullmastiffs waiting for you when you hop over my wall LOL.

Daisy10-08.jpg
 

Yvonne G

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Nay said:
Tyler, Daisey's Beautiful,
and a pack of Pekingeses works too!!

Aw-w! They're adorable!
 
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Maggie Cummings

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OMG!!! What a great picture! What an expression on her face and she sure doesn't look like a Daisy...Great dog Tyler...
 

Stephanie Logan

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Do you train them yourself or pay someone else to?

I've always admired smart dogs that have an almost-human judgment capacity to know who to wag at, and who to chomp. ;)
 

terryo

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Tyler that is the greatest looking dog. And Nay, that's so funny, but I bet they bark like crazy. I have three little ones, 2 Chihuahua's and 1 tiny Yorkie and when they bark you could go deaf.
I think Maggie has a great idea. If you plant a bush with big thorns very close together all around your fence, and put some lattice on the bottom attached to the chain link fence it would serve two purposes. It's not that expensive. I got mine in Home depot. I also planted some raspberry bushes around. They have thorns and people would think twice about jumping into one of those.....and you can get some great berries for your torts.
 

TylerStewart

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Stephanie Logan said:
I've always admired smart dogs that have an almost-human judgment capacity to know who to wag at, and who to chomp. ;)

They really do.... Our other dog is 50% bullmastiff, 50% French mastiff (the dog in Turner and Hooch). Neither of them drool at all, which is always the first question I get. Neither of them bark unless there's a real reason.... If they're ever barking there's always something, so I don't ignore their false alarms. I didn't do any training really with mine besides some leash training (getting them to walk next to you instead of running ahead). Both of them watch the perimeter walls non-stop. We'll have our 7 year old playing in the front yard, and Bella (the other one) will just sit out there in the middle of the street (we're the last house on a dead end road), watching for anything out of place, while the kid plays with neighbor kids. It's funny if a bigger kid comes running up, or any adult man approaches, she jumps up and stands in front of my son, like "bring it on." She's never had to tackle anybody, but I completely believe that if she had to she would. The defensive part of it I didn't have to do much to get them that way.

Daisy just had puppies for the first time about 6-7 weeks ago. Anyone looking for a nice AKC bullmastiff, let me know. They're currently at a dog breeder friend of mine's place in So Cal.

Here's Bella, when she was about 6 months old:
Bella3-08.jpg
 

Tom

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This is what waits for the bad guys at my house. I've got his littermate brother too, and a few others hanging around.

I couldn't get the kids to stop smiling for this pic and it was their parents taking the pics! This one trick literally bought my house and my cars and pays my bills every month.

dx1xys.jpg
 

Stephanie Logan

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Eegads!!

I can understand why. ;)

The dreaded phrase "rabid dog" comes to mind.

Weren't mastiffs the favored breed of royalty and aristocrats? :p
 

Yvonne G

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Man-o-man! The kids are sure afraid of that snarly monster!
 

kit-e-kat

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How about building a tort enclosure within a chain link dog run type of set up? I can be enclosed on the sides and top and the gate can be padlocked. Wood can run along the base so that the torts can't see out. Beware of not just passer by'ers, but of service people who may come by, meter readers for example. If someone really wants what you have, they'll get it somehow, no matter what you do. Just make it harder for the everyday thief. It too bad and will probably be expensive, but it's a sad reality of life.
Good Luck,
John and Joanie
 

-ryan-

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Thanks for all the tips.

I guess it's something I am going to have to keep brainstorming. This year I am planning on building another small pen in the backyard here for my red foot, but I don't think I am going to leave them out there when we can't supervise them (or at least be home). They are nice locking pens, but I know that they could be easily broken into.

I do really like the dog kennel design, especially for ease of maintenance, and I've seen people do a lot of cool things with them. But then I also think there is something to be said for the low pens because they would blend in with the gardens a bit better (whereas a dog kennel full or plants and such would stick out like a sore thumb... or maybe not).

Luckily (or unluckily) I have some time to think about this. I don't think a dog would be a good idea for my current situation, because I am just not usually home enough, and my fiancee and I live at my parents' house. Plus, when we move out we are planning on moving into a small house on a small lot, so a dog would probably still be a no-no there. That does seem like one of the best deterrents though.

Thanks for all of the tips!
 

kit-e-kat

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-ryan- said:
Thanks for all the tips.

I guess it's something I am going to have to keep brainstorming. This year I am planning on building another small pen in the backyard here for my red foot, but I don't think I am going to leave them out there when we can't supervise them (or at least be home). They are nice locking pens, but I know that they could be easily broken into.

I do really like the dog kennel design, especially for ease of maintenance, and I've seen people do a lot of cool things with them. But then I also think there is something to be said for the low pens because they would blend in with the gardens a bit better (whereas a dog kennel full or plants and such would stick out like a sore thumb... or maybe not).

Luckily (or unluckily) I have some time to think about this. I don't think a dog would be a good idea for my current situation, because I am just not usually home enough, and my fiancee and I live at my parents' house. Plus, when we move out we are planning on moving into a small house on a small lot, so a dog would probably still be a no-no there. That does seem like one of the best deterrents though.

Thanks for all of the tips!

How about a short, 2-3 foot high dog type enclosure with a hinged or removeable chain link top. I sure with a little thought, the top and be padlocked or secured somehow. Sort of like a walk in gate thats on the top!
John and Joanie
 

Nay

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Roachman, I am sooooo jealous of what you do. I would give anything to work with animals all the time. I know it's not all roses and cream,or whatever that expression is.
I do work with animals all day(at a vet hospital), and it has some excellent results. (The lab that had a pyometra ,(Something that happens occasionally to unspayed females). She woke up, then almost bled to death, went back in and tried to stop the bleeding, no one thought she would live. She made it!!! very rewarding. I removed her stitches yesterday, that's why its my newest story.
BUT I want to do what Roachman does!!!!!And I love that those kids are getting that experience.
Keep those pictures coming..
Na
 
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