Feedback on enclosure for new tortoise


New Member
Feb 7, 2021
Location (City and/or State)
Newton Abbot
Hi All,

New member... wanted to say "Hi". I've found the discussions and advice on this forum really helpful so thank you all!

We recently acquired a 3 year old marginated tortoise who currently lives in a table indoors, and I'm preparing an outdoor enclosure for when the weather improves in the Spring. I'd love any feedback on the set-up as there's still plenty of time to make improvements before Mabel will be moving in. See photos attached.

Here are the details:
- We live in Devon, South West UK, which means a pretty mild (sometimes damp) climate.
- I have dug out a flower bed approx 1m by 8m, which we will be using about half of while Mabel is small, and then opening up the rest as she grows. The wall runs North (at the pet box end) to South (ish) so it will be in sunshine after early morning into late afternoon.
- The whole space will be enclosed by low walls/fences that she can't climb/escape from.
- I'm planning to put some kind of net or wire over the open part of the enclosure by the pet box to keep birds out (advice welcome).
- We have a little pet box at one end, with a short ramp that she should be able to climb (we'll check at the time) which I'm thinking of filling with hay as a kind of dark "bedroom". Not sure whether she'll use it, but it will be interesting to see what she chooses. It has a lockable door if required.
- I have built a 1x2m cold frame with sunbed rated perspex (i.e. UV transmissible) which currently has an entrance at one end only (I'll open up the other end when she's bigger). I have min/max thermometers inside and outside to measure how effective it is - just started to monitor this.
- The cold frame has some rocks in as well as a long slate section at the top/back for basking and feeding.
- The substrate throughout is a mix of topsoil, leaves and children's play sand to increase drainage.
- I've removed most of the plants (where not clear they were tortoise safe) and we have sown a load of different tortoise safe seeds which I hope will grow in the next few weeks. I'll be planting three hebe shrubs at the far end for when she's bigger.
- I'd like to avoid electric heating if possible, but will install electrics nearby in case they are required (there's other purposes for this).

All comments, advice and ideas for improvement welcome!

Many thanks.


PXL_20210207_141835103.jpg PXL_20210207_141824026.jpg


Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Nov 21, 2015
Location (City and/or State)
Bump. Any comments and advice for a tortoise newbie welcome!

Usually if no one replies its because they dont see any significant issues to address. Outdoors is all about space, I dont see any problems with your set up. Personally I dont agree with leaving a tort out year round in the UK, this weeks cold temps are an excellent example why its dangerous. Dont use materials like Hay, use the same substrates you would use indoors, Orchid bark is probably your best option outdoors.

This is the care sheet to follow, it is current best practice and discusses both indoor and outdoor rearing needs.

The Best Way To Raise Any Temperate Species Of Tortoise | Tortoise Forum

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 23, 2008
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Welcome to the Forum!

I've never kept marginated tortoises and have no experience with housing them outside in the UK, sorry.

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