What You'll Need to Build A Night Box

Tom

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I just typed up a list of the needed supplies to build a night box and thought I'd copy paste it here:

For sulcatas, I make the doors 26x16". This will fit all but the largest of large males for their entire life. If you end up with one of the giants, you will eventually have to make another box with a bigger door.

I don't use anything on the floors or walls. I put some dirt on the floor, and this makes clean up really easy. The floors in my sulcata boxes never rot. If ever they did, its easy to put a plywood patch over the rough spot and get another decade or more of use out of the box. If ever the patch were to rot, easy to replace the patch.

Cost for all the electric stuff (Heavy duty extension cord, latching plastic box, thermostat, heater, computer fan, etc...), insulation, sealant, paint and primer, hinges and latches, and all your lumber will run around $700-800.

For a 4x8' box, you'll need:
  • 7 sheets of plywood. Do NOT use OSB or any other type of particle board. I use 11/32 thickness. This keeps the weight of the box down, and the insulation and sealant holds the heat in just fine.
  • 4 sheets of rigid foam 1.5" insulation.
  • Around 12-15 2x4s.
  • 6-10 2x3s.
  • 4 2x2s to frame the lid. Saves a lot of weight in these heavy lids...
  • 5-6 tubes of GE Silicone I sealant.
  • One gallon of Killz 2 primer.
  • One gallon of Behr Premium Exterior Paint.
  • I use "Deck Screws" from Home Depot. Super long lasting, strong, and you'll never pop the head off of one. Mostly 1 1/4" screws to attach the plywood to the framing, but also 3" screws for strength in the corners and when you attach the 2x4 to the back of the box that you'll attach the lid to with hinges. Not a bad idea to have 1 5/8 or 2" screws in case you strip the wood with one of the 1 1/4 screws in softer wood.
  • I also get a couple of pressure treated 2x4s and cut three strips to size, to rest the box on and keep it off the ground.
  • Spend the extra few bucks on the hot galvanized hinges for your doors. Its a pain in the arse to replace those if they rust due to pee or rain. Regular door hinges work fine for me for the back since they dry off after a rain and don't sit in water all the time.
  • I use a plastic shoe box type thing to contain all my cords and thermostat and keep things a little neater, and to prevent the tortoises from getting tangled in the wires.
  • I use coffee cup hanging hooks to route my wires and keep them out of tortoise reach.
  • Use a medium or heavy duty extension cord. At least 14 gauge, if not 12. I think the thinner 16 gauge cords are too thin.
  • Here is the thermostat I usually use: https://www.lllreptile.com/products/13883-zilla-1000-watt-temperature-controller
  • Here is the heater I typically use: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Optimus-...hguid=47821a26-852-1673f254fbdcb1&athena=true
  • Here is the computer fan I usually use: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009DLW9RO/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20
ENJOY!!! :D
 

Tim Carlisle

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Do you recommend reinforcing the inner walls at all to prevent the tort from causing damage? Would it help to maybe line the bottom of the inner walls with some 2x8 or larger planks? I was contemplating doing that with mine.
 
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pguinpro

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I've heard using any wood that contains pine will cause eye irritation for tortoises because of the oils in the wood.
 

TechnoCheese

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Or, you can get lucky like me and become the teachers pet in a construction class, and convince them to let you build a fully insulated tortoise house instead of a dog house. ;)

Only con is that it’s built by kids that think every surface needs an unnecessary nail driven into it... lol.
 

Tom

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Do you recommend reinforcing the inner walls at all to prevent the tort from causing damage? Would it help to maybe line the bottom of the inner walls with some 2x8 or larger planks? I was contemplating doing that with mine.
No need. Just the regular plywood inside stands up to abuse from large sulcatas with no problem. You can always add more reinforcement inside if you want. It certainly won't hurt anything.
 

Tom

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I've heard using any wood that contains pine will cause eye irritation for tortoises because of the oils in the wood.
False. 100% not true. Been using untreated, uncoated pine to house reptiles for decades and none of them have ever had irritated eyes. Monitors, tegus, snakes and lots of tortoises.
 

Tom

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Tom, thank you for this! I'm getting too old to get a sulcata, but having this supply list, along with your nightbox thread, is a treasure.
I'm currently running 10 of these boxes outside and housing 5 different species in them. They work great for all species. I make smaller doors for smaller species. The doors for stars and Chersina are 10" wide and 8" tall.
 
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pguinpro

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False. 100% not true. Been using untreated, uncoated pine to house reptiles for decades and none of them have ever had irritated eyes. Monitors, tegus, snakes and lots of tortoises.

https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/pine-for-enclosure-use.7628/

See post #13 by Maggie, "No pine for my animals in ANY form!".

I think if it gets hot enough the wood will bleed and the said oils could cause irritation it the tort was in contact with it. Best to use some kind of poly or staple a shower curtain to the wood surfaces.
 

jfales

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Do you have a picture? Mac's original heat sources have apparently failed (pig blanket and/or the radiant heat panel) and we will be replacing the heating. Thanks!
 

Yvonne G

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https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/pine-for-enclosure-use.7628/

See post #13 by Maggie, "No pine for my animals in ANY form!".

I think if it gets hot enough the wood will bleed and the said oils could cause irritation it the tort was in contact with it. Best to use some kind of poly or staple a shower curtain to the wood surfaces.
Like I said in that same thread, the pine boards you buy at the lumber store/yard are kiln dried and the oils are no longer a problem.
 

CEvans

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Hi Tom,
Didn't you post the how toos on here at one time.
I remember seeing them and I want to print out. My neighbor has all the tools we need and he will help me build this box. But I wanted to give him something more specific than just the list. I remember it looked a lot like a toy box with the lid you lift up.
I need to know how tall the sides need to be so the heat lamps are not to close for my 80lb guy.
 

Tom

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Do you have a picture? Mac's original heat sources have apparently failed (pig blanket and/or the radiant heat panel) and we will be replacing the heating. Thanks!
A picture of what?

What do you mean they've apparently failed? Do you mean the temperature isn't staying warm enough? That is likely a lack of insulation or sealing. Can you explain the problem a bit more?
 

Tom

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I think if it gets hot enough the wood will bleed and the said oils could cause irritation it the tort was in contact with it. Best to use some kind of poly or staple a shower curtain to the wood surfaces.

Wrong again. All the boxes stay in the 80s, and some of the outdoor boxes get over 100 out in the sun in summer time. No bleeding, no oils, and no problems.

Staple some poly or a shower curtain to the inside of a 30+ pound sulcata box and then come back and tell us what happens.
 
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pguinpro

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Wrong again. All the boxes stay in the 80s, and some of the outdoor boxes get over 100 out in the sun in summer time. No bleeding, no oils, and no problems.

Staple some poly or a shower curtain to the inside of a 30+ pound sulcata box and then come back and tell us what happens.
This app doesn't work very well, even though I have you ignored it still notifies me that you quoted my post; I could do without the notofications.

Anyways, suggesting something that's worked for me in the past doesn't make me wrong. When I lived in Maine, a very humid state, where temperatures range from 80-94 with 60-80% humidity, the pine wood does infact bleed. I remember getting wood from hancock lumber and it making my car smell. After a few weeks in those conditions outside, uncovered and in the sun, the sap was coming out of knots and the boards smelled like pine. If you use a cheap curtain then yes it will start to smell like plastic but if you get a heavy duty curtain or coat it in polyurethane it will work just fine. You need to get off your high horse and take a break.
 

Tom

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This app doesn't work very well, even though I have you ignored it still notifies me that you quoted my post; I could do without the notofications.

Anyways, suggesting something that's worked for me in the past doesn't make me wrong. When I lived in Maine, a very humid state, where temperatures range from 80-94 with 60-80% humidity, the pine wood does infact bleed. I remember getting wood from hancock lumber and it making my car smell. After a few weeks in those conditions outside, uncovered and in the sun, the sap was coming out of knots and the boards smelled like pine. If you use a cheap curtain then yes it will start to smell like plastic but if you get a heavy duty curtain or coat it in polyurethane it will work just fine. You need to get off your high horse and take a break.
No it won't work just fine. It will be torn down in short order.

Why do you think it is that I know this and you don't? Seems to me the person on the high horse is the one who doesn't know what he's talking about, but continually arguing with the one who does.
 

Snubeazy

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Hey Tom,

Do you have a video link that could explain all the wiring/electrical? I don't know how thermostats work and I have never owned an oil filled heater before. I don't know how they go together. I would love to have the heater turn itself on and off when necessary.

This is my first time reaching out for help on this forum. I built my 8 year old Sulcata a 4x4 using the template you've provided through this forum. I can't thank you enough 🙌

--
Rudy
 
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