Getting my Leopard Tortoise through the Winter

Devin2989

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Jul 6, 2019
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Lawrenceville, GA
Hey guys my leopard tortoise, Sharpie is about 9" x 12" and will be 6 years old in November. We built her an indoor enclosure that she's just too big for now. It's 27 sq ft. It's in our sunroom/ extended kitchen area which stretches about 9' from wall to wall. Her outdoor's a little bigger at 48 SQ ft, but I'm working on a new one that's 200 SQ ft. The only problem is it won't be done in time for the winter.

I'm nervous about using the indoor to get her through the winter with that indoor enclosure as small as it is, and am hoping for some ideas. The best one I have so far is to get rid of the enclosure and use the open room/ space, but to seal it off with an extended pet/ baby gate. I'd attach the heat lamps etc. To the wall so they could hang down over her and put down whatever's recommended on the tile floor to keep the heat up. Maybe cardboard, blankets etc. Take a look at the pics of the area currently and let me know what you guys think. Really need help! Thanks
 

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Lyn W

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I think the sun room option is a good one. You could just make a door in his existing enclosure or make one of Tom's night boxes as his hide in it. Obviously the dogs would have to be kept out.
I'm not a handy person so my leopard who is slightly bigger than yours has his own room with rubber flooring with a heated and insulated dog kennel as his hide (Imperial Pets insulated kennel)
1663775324732.png
Inside I use a Reptile Radiator run through a thermostat to heat it (like a flat che panel - similar to a radiant heat panel). The roof is slanted so I stretched an extendable oven shelf across to the top of the walls to rest it on and keep it level. It also means that all heat is kept inside instead of being lost to the roof. You may find better options like wall mounted kane mats etc. I use rubber flooring in it to protect the base from urine with a large slate. The door has thick plastic strips but I also cover it with a heavy towel every night to keep heat in and any light out, but you could make a hinged door/ramp.
He uses a ramp to go in and out as he pleases and there is a gate to stop him accessing the house.
His uvb tube, flood basking bulb and a che are all hung out in the room with a large tray of water and one for substrate but he tends not to use that. There is also a radiator in the room which keeps it cosy during the day.

I don't have any pics available at the moment but he has lived quite comfortably in the room for the last 8 years - the heated hide has been great for him and he loves it.
Hope that gives you some ideas.
 
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wellington

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If the room is heated already. Then I would do as Lyn suggested and cut a door in the enclosure and leave that the basking heated area. Then lay cardboard or foam board insulation on top of sunroom floor with plywood over that and then a tarp, then substrate. You could just lay plywood or tarp as long as the room is already heated. If it's not heat it with a radiator type portable heater. Leave the enclosure he has now as it except cutting the door opening.
 

Team Gomberg

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With a tortoise your size, I'd be looking into a heated tort house. It will create a "charging station" where your tortoise can go warm up properly before/after cruising around cooler areas.

If you broke down this indoor enclosure of yours and hung lamps, all the heat will be continually rising up and away and you'll never really get the temps needed for tort to properly warm up. BUT if you build a heated tortoise house that kept all of the warm temps, your tortoise could go in/out as needed and warming the other areas wouldn't be so much of a priority.

You're going to get mixed answers here:
-Some will say leopard tortoises need to live in warm climates like CA or FL. Awesome. Unless you don't live there...
-Some will say the leopard tortoise needs a large heated tortoise room 24/7. Great if you can do that!
-Others might suggest a large heated shed outside so they can be locked up all winter but still have plenty of room. Again, a great suggestion!

BUT for someone like me (not in a year round warm climate, no dedicated bedroom for a tortoise, no giant yard shed) who still wants to keep her tortoise best she can, I am satisfied with a heated tortoise house. My tort will warm up and still cruise the yard even on cold days. Perfect scenario, no. Meeting his needs still, yes. Would a tort house in that room with access for him to come and go be perfect scenario? probably not. But it will get you through winter.

If you have a long future planned with this tortoise, then next summer you can start planning for how to manage winters long term. Levi my 18"ish leopard tortoise has lived with the heated tort house outdoors for 6 years now. I'm really hoping to upgrade to a large shed someday. But until then, this works and he's ok.

Hope this helps :)
 

Devin2989

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Jul 6, 2019
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Lawrenceville, GA
If the room is heated already. Then I would do as Lyn suggested and cut a door in the enclosure and leave that the basking heated area. Then lay cardboard or foam board insulation on top of sunroom floor with plywood over that and then a tarp, then substrate. You could just lay plywood or tarp as long as the room is already heated. If it's not heat it with a radiator type portable heater. Leave the enclosure he has now as it except cutting the door opening.
Thank you, super helpful because that was my next question is how to treat the floor. Since it's the winter we'll already be keeping the house warmer, but going the extra mile to make sure with the foam board insulation might be best. Really appreciate it!
 

Devin2989

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Jul 6, 2019
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Location (City and/or State)
Lawrenceville, GA
With a tortoise your size, I'd be looking into a heated tort house. It will create a "charging station" where your tortoise can go warm up properly before/after cruising around cooler areas.

If you broke down this indoor enclosure of yours and hung lamps, all the heat will be continually rising up and away and you'll never really get the temps needed for tort to properly warm up. BUT if you build a heated tortoise house that kept all of the warm temps, your tortoise could go in/out as needed and warming the other areas wouldn't be so much of a priority.

You're going to get mixed answers here:
-Some will say leopard tortoises need to live in warm climates like CA or FL. Awesome. Unless you don't live there...
-Some will say the leopard tortoise needs a large heated tortoise room 24/7. Great if you can do that!
-Others might suggest a large heated shed outside so they can be locked up all winter but still have plenty of room. Again, a great suggestion!

BUT for someone like me (not in a year round warm climate, no dedicated bedroom for a tortoise, no giant yard shed) who still wants to keep her tortoise best she can, I am satisfied with a heated tortoise house. My tort will warm up and still cruise the yard even on cold days. Perfect scenario, no. Meeting his needs still, yes. Would a tort house in that room with access for him to come and go be perfect scenario? probably not. But it will get you through winter.

If you have a long future planned with this tortoise, then next summer you can start planning for how to manage winters long term. Levi my 18"ish leopard tortoise has lived with the heated tort house outdoors for 6 years now. I'm really hoping to upgrade to a large shed someday. But until then, this works and he's ok.

Hope this helps :)
Makes total sense, yeah we are in Georgia where the summers are hot but the winters get down in the 30's. Having a heated house outside is the ultimate goal. Thank you for the insight.
 

Devin2989

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Location (City and/or State)
Lawrenceville, GA
I think the sun room option is a good one. You could just make a door in his existing enclosure or make one of Tom's night boxes as his hide in it. Obviously the dogs would have to be kept out.
I'm not a handy person so my leopard who is slightly bigger than yours has his own room with rubber flooring with a heated and insulated dog kennel as his hide (Imperial Pets insulated kennel)
View attachment 350139
Inside I use a Reptile Radiator run through a thermostat to heat it (like a flat che panel - similar to a radiant heat panel). The roof is slanted so I stretched an extendable oven shelf across to the top of the walls to rest it on and keep it level. It also means that all heat is kept inside instead of being lost to the roof. You may find better options like wall mounted kane mats etc. I use rubber flooring in it to protect the base from urine with a large slate. The door has thick plastic strips but I also cover it with a heavy towel every night to keep heat in and any light out, but you could make a hinged door/ramp.
He uses a ramp to go in and out as he pleases and there is a gate to stop him accessing the house.
His uvb tube, flood basking bulb and a che are all hung out in the room with a large tray of water and one for substrate but he tends not to use that. There is also a radiator in the room which keeps it cosy during the day.

I don't have any pics available at the moment but he has lived quite comfortably in the room for the last 8 years - the heated hide has been great for him and he loves it.
Hope that gives you some ideas.
So grateful Lyn. Cutting the door makes TOTAL sense, will save a good amount of work and money as well. This is the route we are gonna go to just expand her space. Really appreciate you, and the insulated dog kennel will likely be our go to for her outdoor in the future as well so thanks for the tips.
 

Team Gomberg

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Thank you, super helpful because that was my next question is how to treat the floor. Since it's the winter we'll already be keeping the house warmer, but going the extra mile to make sure with the foam board insulation might be best. Really appreciate it!

Just to give you additional confusing opinions online... lol

I personally will never lay tarp down with substrate on it. I've seen first hand the dirt and water go through a tarp. Barb must have magic tarp in Chicago :) lucky girl!

If it were me, I'd lay down the foam insulation, cover that with plywood (like barb said) only difference being that I'd lay linoleum over the plywood then put the substrate on top of that.

Tarp is cheaper up front but if it leaks- then the mess made, work to re-do it and eventual expense of the flooring will all be more in the end.
 

RhodaE

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Thousand Oaks, CA
I think the sun room option is a good one. You could just make a door in his existing enclosure or make one of Tom's night boxes as his hide in it. Obviously the dogs would have to be kept out.
I'm not a handy person so my leopard who is slightly bigger than yours has his own room with rubber flooring with a heated and insulated dog kennel as his hide (Imperial Pets insulated kennel)
View attachment 350139
Inside I use a Reptile Radiator run through a thermostat to heat it (like a flat che panel - similar to a radiant heat panel). The roof is slanted so I stretched an extendable oven shelf across to the top of the walls to rest it on and keep it level. It also means that all heat is kept inside instead of being lost to the roof. You may find better options like wall mounted kane mats etc. I use rubber flooring in it to protect the base from urine with a large slate. The door has thick plastic strips but I also cover it with a heavy towel every night to keep heat in and any light out, but you could make a hinged door/ramp.
He uses a ramp to go in and out as he pleases and there is a gate to stop him accessing the house.
His uvb tube, flood basking bulb and a che are all hung out in the room with a large tray of water and one for substrate but he tends not to use that. There is also a radiator in the room which keeps it cosy during the day.

I don't have any pics available at the moment but he has lived quite comfortably in the room for the last 8 years - the heated hide has been great for him and he loves it.
Hope that gives you some ideas.
That sounds nice - I would love to see some pictures of your setup. We moved this May from CA to TN with our leopard tortoise, he's 25-30+ years old (we adopted him 15 years ago). Today is the first day that it has been chilly in the morning and I know we need to work more on his indoor setup. When we first moved in and were unpacking etc, we had to lock him in a spare room. Although it had vinyl floors, he managed to make an amazing mess in a short time! Tortoise poo everywhere and rubbed onto the wood molding all around the room ha. We have since built him a big wood pen with a layer of chopped hay, in the walk-out basement. And during day we put him in backyard which we fenced in, and he grazes well. We planted some of the tortoise grass mix bought on this website and he loves it. (So does our Chihuahua).
 

Gijoux

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Hey guys my leopard tortoise, Sharpie is about 9" x 12" and will be 6 years old in November. We built her an indoor enclosure that she's just too big for now. It's 27 sq ft. It's in our sunroom/ extended kitchen area which stretches about 9' from wall to wall. Her outdoor's a little bigger at 48 SQ ft, but I'm working on a new one that's 200 SQ ft. The only problem is it won't be done in time for the winter.

I'm nervous about using the indoor to get her through the winter with that indoor enclosure as small as it is, and am hoping for some ideas. The best one I have so far is to get rid of the enclosure and use the open room/ space, but to seal it off with an extended pet/ baby gate. I'd attach the heat lamps etc. To the wall so they could hang down over her and put down whatever's recommended on the tile floor to keep the heat up. Maybe cardboard, blankets etc. Take a look at the pics of the area currently and let me know what you guys think. Really need help! Thanks
Luckily they slow down a bit during the colder winter days and don't require a lot of space on days like those.
 

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