Time to start planning first outdoor enclosure

Careym13

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Now that my Leopards have grown so much, I've decided it is time to start planning an outdoor enclosure for them. I have about 5 months before it'll be warm enough where I live for them to be outside all day. My plan is to house them outdoors during the day, and bring them in to sleep in their closed chamber at night. In my area, we have large birds (hawks, etc), coyotes, fox, raccoons, and other critters no doubt (I live in the country, near the Shenandoah mountains). Under my deck live at least 1, if not 2, large groundhogs (are they even carnivorous? I don't know).

Last summer, I copied Tom and built an 8x4 cinder block pen with a mesh roof. I put the torts in it every morning for a couple hours when weather permitted, but I was always around to supervise. It worked great, but not only is it now too small for my chunky torts but I feel it is not secure enough for them to be left in unattended all day.

Here are my concerns regarding this upcoming project:
1. Predator proofing - Considering all of the creatures I listed above, this enclosure needs to be covered, have high and sturdy walls, and it needs to be dig proof from the outside/underneath. I know Leopards don't dig, but things that will want to get in and do dig are a concern since sometimes I don't get home until sunset when the nocturnal creatures come out. My yard is big and wide open but it is not fenced in (not that it would matter, necessarily). I am also planning an enclosure for my silkie chickens and predator proofing is a major concern there as well (I'm hoping some of these ideas might carry over)...I have MASSIVE paranoia about some animal getting in and crunching on my birds or torts.

2. I have a bullying issue with my 2 torts so the enclosure has to be divided.

3. I will most likely be moving again in about 2-3 years so I'd like to construct something that I can eventually take apart and move with me.

4. I have ZERO carpentry skills...and no one to help me. So, whatever I do I am hoping to keep as simple as possible without sacrificing durability or security. I have a circular saw, drills, hammer, etc. that I can use for construction.

5. I have to decide if I should build the enclosure as a stand alone in the yard a short distance from the house or if I should build it up against the house, using the house as either one or two of the walls (keeping in mind that I will probably be moving again).

If anyone has any input/suggestions I would really appreciate it...particularly regarding issue #1.
 

Jodie

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What about one of those big dog kennels? You would still need walls for the torts inside, but it would be fully enclosed.
 
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Careym13

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What about one of those big dog kennels? You would still need walls for the torts inside, but it would be fully enclosed.
That is a good idea...so they have ones with flooring as well? Or maybe I would still need to bury wire?
 

jaizei

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I think one of the most effective deterrents for predators is having a dog on the property. Most of the threat from predators is at night, so a sturdy (and lockable) night box solves most of that problem. I wouldn't abut the enclosure to the house but I'd put it nearer rather than far. How big are your tortoises?
 

Careym13

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I think one of the most effective deterrents for predators is having a dog on the property. Most of the threat from predators is at night, so a sturdy (and lockable) night box solves most of that problem. I wouldn't abut the enclosure to the house but I'd put it nearer rather than far. How big are your tortoises?
One is 5 inches, the other is 4 inches. 457 grams and 300 ish. I plan to bring them inside at night. I get home usually no later than 8 pm in the spring and summer.

I have dogs, but they are sissy dogs...shih tzus. Probably the worst guard dogs ever.
 

Jodie

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That is a good idea...so they have ones with flooring as well? Or maybe I would still need to bury wire?
I am not sure. I wouldn't put a floor in it. You could dig a trench, bury cement blocks, and set the kennel on that. I agree though that most danger is at night, so bringing them in should lessen the need.
 

Careym13

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I am not sure. I wouldn't put a floor in it. You could dig a trench, bury cement blocks, and set the kennel on that. I agree though that most danger is at night, so bringing them in should lessen the need.
I was looking at kennels online...they sell a flooring material that is anti-bacterial and is self draining (but no holes). I was thinking I could put that down, put the kennel on top, line the inside walls for the tortoises then put a foot or so of substrate on top of the flooring?
 

Jodie

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I was looking at kennels online...they sell a flooring material that is anti-bacterial and is self draining (but no holes). I was thinking I could put that down, put the kennel on top, line the inside walls for the tortoises then put a foot or so of substrate on top of the flooring?
That would work. Not the best for growing plants though n I think it's overkill. Just not what I would do, if it makes you feel better though....
 

Jodie

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You're probably right. I guess I'm just being paranoid.
Better safe than sorry I suppose. It would require a really big hole, but you could put a chicken wire or hardware cloth bottom on the kennel and bury it. Roots could go through the wire, but nothing big could get in or out.
 
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