Simple Outdoor Tortoise Shelter Designs for LITTLE/YOUNG Tortoises

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kameya

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I've built a lot of outdoor tortoise enclosures for different tortoise species, but within the enclosures, you also have to build a little shelter for the tortoises to retreat under the hot days and at night. Most of times I simply cut up a plastic planter in half and use it as a simple tortoise shelter like the following photo...


However, there is a small issue with plastic planter as the tortoises would push it around and often turn it upside down. To solve the issue, I just sandwiched the planter between the wall and the rocks to stabilize it.

But been an industrial designer myself, I've done some thinking to try to come up with better shelter ideas. So far, here are two neat shelter ideas I could come up with, and both of them can be built very easily and inexpensively.


Design #1 - Cinder Block Shelter

Suitable Tortoise Species: Hermanns, Greek, Russian, small Sulcata...

Materials:
(1) 8x8x16 Cinder Block
(4) 2x8x16 Cinder Block Cap if shelter is against a wall or
(5) Caps if shelter sits in the middle of the enclosure

Cost: <$5

1. Laying out the blocks


2. Creating a small shelter by placing (2)caps on both sides of the 8x8 block and against a backwall, the hollow holes will be the entrance of the shelter...


3. Cover the shelter with block caps...


4. Cover the sides of the shelter with dirt to reinforce the shelter stability...and DONE, you can build this shelter in less than 10 minutes... :D


5. The front cap can be lifted open to reveal the interior...


Here is another one I built for my painted wood turtle, notice the top of shelter is very strong for the tortoises to climb and walk on... :tort::tort::tort:


Notes:
1. If you feel the opening is too small, you can use a grinder to cut away the center support beam to make the opening wider.
2. This shelter idea is expandable...Just simply add additional blocks adjacent to the original one, and you can create a small tortoise village if you like... :D



Design #2 - Storage Container Shelter

Suitable Tortoise Species: Hermanns, Greek, Russian, mid-sized Sulcata...

Materials:
(1) Front-access storage container with Lid
(1) Vinyl strips for entrance covering (optional)

Cost: $8-$12

1. I got this container form Costco a while ago...but anything similar to this will work...Cut the top lid in half for the entrance opening...


2. Turn the container side way and you got yourself a ready-made shelter within a minute...


3. Place the container shelter inside your tortoise enclosure and add some bedding materials inside the container...


4. Lastly add a vinyl cover in front of the entrance opening to make the shelter weather-proof. The translucent cover can be lifted open to reveal the interior as well... :tort::tort::tort:


I know there must a lot more neat and simple shelter ideas out there, so anyone wishes to share their ideas and creations are welcome to post here so we can learn from each other... :)
 

jjsull33

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How does the cinder block one hold up in rain? Does the inside get soaked or does it stay relatively dry?
Thank you by the way.
 

RosieRedfoot

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I bet the cinder block one stays nice and cool on very hot days. Thanks for sharing!
 

kameya

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jjsull33 said:
How does the cinder block one hold up in rain? Does the inside get soaked or does it stay relatively dry?
Thank you by the way.

If you are worry about the heavy rain in your area, you can add a piece of 16"x16" tile on top of the shelter to make it more waterproof...
 

jaizei

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I think Tyler's 'sprinkler box' hides are my favorite that I have seen here on the forum. You may have to enlarge the entrance, but other than that I think they are ideal.
 

Team Gomberg

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I would love to try the cinder block hides..

I also wondered about rain. And would adult Russians fit through those holes?

Heather

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ascott

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http://www.tortoiseforum.org/attachment.php?aid=39816

I use 35 gallon blue barrels that have been cut down the length and then used as a shell shaped dome...each of the CDTs have one...I build a bit of a mountain (mound to keep them from being flooded in the event of summer tstorms) then place the half barrel then bury the dome deep enough to allow it to keep cool in the summer months and good shelter for night during tortoise season...

I like the cinder block doorway...very cool for the babies and smaller torts too...
 

kameya

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I've just built another one for my newly acquired painted wood turtle, and it's a big one. So I used the grinder to cut off the center support to make the opening wider.



I think the cinder block design will become my go-to shelter as it is easy and inexpensive to build, and if my tortoises have out-grown the shelter, then I can always recycle the cinder block for my other tortoise enclosure projects.

Regarding to the waterproof issue, you can use a piece of 16"x16" garden paver stone as the ceiling cap to eliminate the seam created by the 2 block caps. The reason I chose to use 2 caps as the ceiling cap for the shelter is to allow me the check the interior of the shelter to see if the tortoises are doing OK by just removing one of the cap.
 

stinax182

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what i do is basically this, but deeper. i dig a hole, lay 3 brick walls, lay a flat rock or pavement brick on top, then bury! this way it's less of a tortoise-toppler if they walk over the edge, you can still grow grass on top on the rock once you bury it and it's always cooler underground :) i usually put leaf liter or moss inside and cover the rest of the opening with a large piece of bark so it's like a burrow :3 i will post pictures in the morning!

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samsmom

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I love these shelter ideas and might have to steal one. Thanks!
 

Team Gomberg

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Re: RE: Simple Outdoor Tortoise Shelter Designs for LITTLE/YOUNG Tortoises

stinax182 said:
what i do is basically this, but deeper. i dig a hole, lay 3 brick walls, lay a flat rock or pavement brick on top, then bury! this way it's less of a tortoise-toppler if they walk over the edge, you can still grow grass on top on the rock once you bury it and it's always cooler underground :) i usually put leaf liter or moss inside and cover the rest of the opening with a large piece of bark so it's like a burrow :3 i will post pictures in the morning!

Sent from my MB886 using TortForum mobile app

I really want to do some of these in my leopard pen. Right now they have buried half flower pot hides.

My one concern, reaching in to get them out to come inside for the night. I'd be fearful to reach in and touch a spider or who knows what..shudder.

Do you have this problem? Fear? Lol

It is the last thing I'm trying to figure out before I do it. Right now i can easily see into the flower pot before I grab the Tort.

Heather
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alysciaingram

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I wish I took pictures of it before I buried the thing, but I have one hide that is an extra large cat litter box. I believe I purchased it at Target for about $15. I used painter's tarp to seal the vents, drilled holes in the bottom in case water did enter the hide, and dug a hole about a foot and a half deep. I then made a little fence for the top of the hide so my tort wouldn't fall over the edge and covered the entire hide with substrate. I then filled the bottom of the cat pan with rocks to increase drainage, and added substrate and sphagnum moss. Bowser loves that hide and often times is found in that one when it's time to come in for the night.
 

kameya

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My one concern, reaching in to get them out to come inside for the night. I'd be fearful to reach in and touch a spider or who knows what..shudder.

That's why I used two block caps to form the ceiling cover, so I can easily remove one of the caps to check on the interior before I go grab the tortoise...


Here is a sub-adult Hermann hiding inside his bunker...



More on the shelter design, if you only have a limited space in your enclosure, you can just build a single dorm unit using the 8x8 block like the following picture...



This is an overview of my newly furnished outdoor tortoise land, and you can see I've got quite a few tortoise bunker shelters built for most of my tortoises....
 

AZtortMom

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I love these ideas! I'm totally stealing these!


Life is good
 

Tom

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Awesome thread! I missed this the first time around. Great ideas.
 

kameya

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Tom said:
Awesome thread! I missed this the first time around. Great ideas.


Hi Tom,

I was waiting for you to surface...maybe you have some neat shelter ideas too with the herds you've got... ^_^
 

Team Gomberg

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Ok i bought the cinder block and 5 caps.
I'm going to set one up for my leopard yearling.
Will it really be a cool hide in the warmer weather?

If I let some water run in there when I water the pen in the morning (before the tort goes out) will it be more humid in there?

Heather
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