Starting my Sulcata Pen

Sean.k

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california central valley
After doing some browsing I am still having some questions on landscaping for my Sulcata's pen, he is a baby and I have him in his 50 Gallon tank which he seems happy in but I really want to get working on his outdoor area. first off I want a tree, the tree in the picture is a willow, unfortunately it has to go as its main trunk got infected and also its roots could cause major damage in 20 years on the bright side I get to pick a new tree for my tortoise, I want to plant it now so it has a year to get its roots and get rid of any pesticides.

I have an idea of most things I will plant around the area but main thing is the one tree, I want an evergreen I do not want two trees and don't want a mulberry so i was thinking something along the lines of a strawberry tree, I see posts on bushes but was wondering if anyone has any idea on the tree.

the far side of the pen is my vegetable garden and that is a (overgrown at the minute) grapevine you can see I may try to incorporate the grapevine in the pen across the path ill have to create to the vegetable garden.

as these tortoise do borrow and I have two large dogs I need to make a high fence but also deep, would they tunnel under the concrete around the area? should i make the fence deeper than 18inches which i seen in other websites?

I just moved to the bay area so don't have my tool wish list yet built up in my garage, I would like to make a semi submersed box but if anyone know anyone in California who may specialize that would be great to, specially if they have sulcatas id be happy to drive to see any setup and get ideas.

IMG_2200.JPG
 

Melis

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Welcome! Are you looking for a type of tree that could be a good source for your tort? Or just provide shade? There are great threads from Tom on how to complete a heated night box.

While that’s awesome you’re already thinking about what to do for his outside enclosure, have you thought about the plan for when he outgrows the 50 gallon tank but is still too small to go outside? There are also some great threads here on enclosed chambers that are best for your baby to regulate temp and humidity.
 

Sean.k

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more shade as i think i have time to let it grow if i buy from a nursery right now. I would really like to create my own box and may do so but

It would seem I need to do some more reading i thought he would go from the 50 gallon to the outside, I bought from a petstore and the advice they gave thus far has been wrong (like giving me a bag of sand) my plan was to move from 50 gallon to smaller enclosed outdoor en-closer and then open it up as he gets bigger. is that a bad idea? what age size threads should i be looking at for the intermittent stage?
 

Sean.k

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While that’s awesome you’re already thinking about what to do for his outside enclosure, have you thought about the plan for when he outgrows the 50 gallon tank but is still too small to go outside? There are also some great threads here on enclosed chambers that are best for your baby to regulate temp and humidity.[/QUOTE]

do you have a good answer on when 50 gallon is to small and when outside is unsuitable? its hard to find a definitive answer
 

Big Charlie

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@Tom built an underground night box at one time. Is there a specific reason you want it that way? It would be much harder to clean out and if you used wood to construct it, it would rot much faster.

Keep in mind that sulcatas burrow for protection from extreme temperatures. They don't burrow to escape. If your sulcata does start a burrow up against your fence and it goes underneath, the burrow won't come up on the other side. It will just stay underground. Some sulcatas never burrow. The chances they will burrow is much less if you provide a heated night box for protection from the cold, and something for protection from the heat, like a pond, mudhole, shaded area, or misters.

My neighbor built a cinderblock wall to keep Charlie from burrowing under the fence into his yard. I believe he had it sunk 3 feet into the ground. Charlie hasn't even tried to dig next to it. From my experience with Charlie, which is just one tortoise, he likes to dig a burrow in front of some kind of barrier, a fence, a corner, or a plant. If he started a burrow against my neighbor's wall, since he goes down at a gently sloping angle, he would come up against the wall immediately, just a few inches down, probably not more than a foot or so, and that would discourage him.

I agree with @Sean.k - your sulcata needs a larger inside enclosure now and that should be your priority.
 

Big Charlie

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more shade as i think i have time to let it grow if i buy from a nursery right now. I would really like to create my own box and may do so but

It would seem I need to do some more reading i thought he would go from the 50 gallon to the outside, I bought from a petstore and the advice they gave thus far has been wrong (like giving me a bag of sand) my plan was to move from 50 gallon to smaller enclosed outdoor en-closer and then open it up as he gets bigger. is that a bad idea? what age size threads should i be looking at for the intermittent stage?
Yes, that's a bad idea. He should be ready to move outside full-time when he is 8 to 10 inches long. For the first few years, he will grow better in an enclosed chamber when the heat and humidity are ideal. He can be put outside for short periods of time until then so you'll still want an outdoor enclosure for him when he is small. I think @Tom says 1 hour outside for every inch of length.
 

vladimir

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@Tom built an underground night box at one time. Is there a specific reason you want it that way? It would be much harder to clean out and if you used wood to construct it, it would rot much faster.

Keep in mind that sulcatas burrow for protection from extreme temperatures. They don't burrow to escape. If your sulcata does start a burrow up against your fence and it goes underneath, the burrow won't come up on the other side. It will just stay underground. Some sulcatas never burrow. The chances they will burrow is much less if you provide a heated night box for protection from the cold, and something for protection from the heat, like a pond, mudhole, shaded area, or misters.

My neighbor built a cinderblock wall to keep Charlie from burrowing under the fence into his yard. I believe he had it sunk 3 feet into the ground. Charlie hasn't even tried to dig next to it. From my experience with Charlie, which is just one tortoise, he likes to dig a burrow in front of some kind of barrier, a fence, a corner, or a plant. If he started a burrow against my neighbor's wall, since he goes down at a gently sloping angle, he would come up against the wall immediately, just a few inches down, probably not more than a foot or so, and that would discourage him.

I agree with @Sean.k - your sulcata needs a larger inside enclosure now and that should be your priority.
@big Charlie are you on good terms with your neighbor? LOL [emoji846]
 

Big Charlie

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@big Charlie are you on good terms with your neighbor? LOL [emoji846]
Ya think? He hates us. When Charlie dug under the fence, he took it personally, even though you couldn't see the burrow on his side, and it wasn't affecting any of his plants. The only way he knew there was a burrow was because he looked over the fence and saw it on our side. Then he wanted us to pay for half of his spite wall, but we refused. He doesn't get along with any of the neighbors. He's got a little of the Winchester mystery house going on over there. There are always contractors over at his house. This has been going on for years. We hear a tile saw running so often that his whole house must be tiled.
 

vladimir

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Ya think? He hates us. When Charlie dug under the fence, he took it personally, even though you couldn't see the burrow on his side, and it wasn't affecting any of his plants. The only way he knew there was a burrow was because he looked over the fence and saw it on our side. Then he wanted us to pay for half of his spite wall, but we refused. He doesn't get along with any of the neighbors. He's got a little of the Winchester mystery house going on over there. There are always contractors over at his house. This has been going on for years. We hear a tile saw running so often that his whole house must be tiled.
I figured either the neighbor was really understanding and into tortoises, or very much the opposite [emoji16]
 

Tom

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more shade as i think i have time to let it grow if i buy from a nursery right now. I would really like to create my own box and may do so but

It would seem I need to do some more reading i thought he would go from the 50 gallon to the outside, I bought from a petstore and the advice they gave thus far has been wrong (like giving me a bag of sand) my plan was to move from 50 gallon to smaller enclosed outdoor en-closer and then open it up as he gets bigger. is that a bad idea? what age size threads should i be looking at for the intermittent stage?

Here is the info for a baby. I think you might already have this, but just in case here it is all in one place:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/

Here is an example of an underground night box. It lasted about 6 years before the sides rotted out. I think it worked very well and I raised many sulcatas in this enclosure during the six years. If I made another one like this I would use CDPVC instead of plywood. It is basically expanded PVC plastic that is impervious to water or rotting. It comes in sheets that are 4x8 feet and 1/2 inch in thickness. https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/daisys-new-enclosure.28662/

Here is an above ground night box. Take note that heat lamps and CHEs don't work well and shouldn't be used for larger tortoises.
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/another-night-box-thread.88966/

Your baby needs to live mostly indoors until it reaches 8-10 inches. A few hours outside, 3-4 times a week, followed by a soak on the way in, will work well and yield the best results. You'll need a large closed chamber in the meantime. I like these the best. Order now because it takes months to get it: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/new-stack-of-animal-plastics-closed-chambers.165626/
You can also build your own. Here is an excellent example of that: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/our-new-closed-chamber-for-our-new-group-of-tortoises.138430/

If all is well and your baby was started correctly, (Most aren't…), It should outgrow your 50 gallon enclosure in about 4-6 weeks.

As far as trees, I highly recommend something edible. I see you ruled mulberry out, and I can understand why, but they also have smaller growing mulberry trees that might work for you. I would go with a lavatera bush or two. They can easily reach 12' and they make good shade while your tortoise can eat whatever it can reach and all the flowers that fall off. That grapevine will provide lots of great food too.
 

Sean.k

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@Tom built an underground night box at one time. Is there a specific reason you want it that way? It would be much harder to clean out and if you used wood to construct it, it would rot much faster.

mostly space, I thought if it was underground that would mean more space to walk around up top.
 

Sean.k

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You'll need a large closed chamber in the meantime. I like these the best. Order now because it takes months to get it: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/new-stack-of-animal-plastics-closed-chambers.165626/

Thank you Tom, also for those three links i have memorized them by now, when you say in the meantime in your experience how long would that be? i would only need the chamber for this one tortoise, but if ill get a few years out of it I can justify the expense (to my wife) but if its not years I would probably aim towards building something so I can re-purpose the materials after my buddy moves outside.
 

Tom

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Thank you Tom, also for those three links i have memorized them by now, when you say in the meantime in your experience how long would that be? i would only need the chamber for this one tortoise, but if ill get a few years out of it I can justify the expense (to my wife) but if its not years I would probably aim towards building something so I can re-purpose the materials after my buddy moves outside.
Where did you get the tortoise and how was it started? This info will allow me to give you a guesstimate on time to reach 8-10". Mine reach that in 18-24 months, but few breeders start them like I do, and that makes a huge difference. A dry stated one that was soaked once a week and fed romaine, might take 3-4 years to reach that size, if your care, diet and environment are excellent. There are just too many variables.
 

Sean.k

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Where did you get the tortoise and how was it started? This info will allow me to give you a guesstimate on time to reach 8-10". Mine reach that in 18-24 months, but few breeders start them like I do, and that makes a huge difference. A dry stated one that was soaked once a week and fed romaine, might take 3-4 years to reach that size, if your care, diet and environment are excellent. There are just too many variables.

unfortunately I took the same approach with getting a tortoise that I do when adopting a dog, I though the ones in pet-stores are like dogs in shelters and that i would be giving this tortoise a better life after a possible ruff start, that aside I am committed now to giving him excellent care but to answer your question i have no information on his previous few months.
 
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