Help Building a New Outdoor Enclosure for Year Round Use

Falcon70

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Hey all! I'm looking to build my Russian tortoise a new outdoor enclosure. The old one has done an admirable job over the years, but is tired. Plus, I'm moving and Mzee's going to have a much bigger yard to roam, so it's time to expand and improve.

I've been browsing through the enclosure threads, and have a good idea of what to build. I'm putting a $500 budget on it, and am able to construct just about everything on my own.

The one area that's stumping me a bit is how to winterize it for year round use. I live in North Carolina, so for the most part our winters are pretty mild. There will be stretches in the teens/20s with cold rain, ice, and occasional snow, but then the next day could be 70F+.

In the past, Mzee has come inside when it's not nice enough for her to be out. I have not hibernated her before, and though I know that's a perfectly acceptable option, do not want to attempt that this year. With this new enclosure, I would like to find a way to keep her outside year-round (with a back-up indoor enclosure if it's really bad).

To our experienced craftsfolk and keepers, do you have any suggestions for a year round outdoor enclosure WITHOUT hibernation in a climate like NC? Perhaps an enclosure attached to a smaller temperature controlled greenhouse that's closed off to her during hot weather? If there's any good threads you know, go ahead and tag them. I've been reading through a bunch, but there's thousands of them, so I'm sure I've missed some good ones.

Thanks!
 

jaizei

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If you're able to dig, I'd do a greenhouse with an attached yard, wouldn't block it off during hot weather. Make an area inside with a basking lamp during winter. Could put shelving about 3ft above and have plenty of space for growing plants.
 

Falcon70

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If you're able to dig, I'd do a greenhouse with an attached yard, wouldn't block it off during hot weather. Make an area inside with a basking lamp during winter. Could put shelving about 3ft above and have plenty of space for growing plants.
Very neat, I think I’d be able to figure that out. Thanks for attaching the video explaining it! Having some nursery space for plants and young trees is a definite plus, so like that shelving idea.

We have a mini excavator, so digging will be easy. Do you have a set-up like this, or know someone who does? Have the general design in my head, but seeing some pictures could be helpful.
 

jaizei

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I've done a few but am horrible at taking pictures while working. I think your weather works well with the concept since you dont have a long really cold winter. This is from Virginia so you should be a little warmer than the temperatures it shows. Looks like 5ft deep stays 50*+ in the coldest winter days; the air pumped underground should heat it above that, so I'd think it should keep the greenhouse at a temperature comfortable for a Russian. At the very least, a safe temperature for the Russian. Will probably still need the basking area in the winter. I have even less winter than you usually (Texas), so the cooling it provides in the summer is just as big of a benefit.

Time lag vs depth
(https://web.archive.org/web/20120822160141/http://www.geo4va.vt.edu/A1/A1.htm)

'Climate battery' on youtube should have tons of examples. This video shows the basics of installation of the excavation/climate battery.

 

Falcon70

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10 Year Member!
Joined
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Location (City and/or State)
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I've done a few but am horrible at taking pictures while working. I think your weather works well with the concept since you dont have a long really cold winter. This is from Virginia so you should be a little warmer than the temperatures it shows. Looks like 5ft deep stays 50*+ in the coldest winter days; the air pumped underground should heat it above that, so I'd think it should keep the greenhouse at a temperature comfortable for a Russian. At the very least, a safe temperature for the Russian. Will probably still need the basking area in the winter. I have even less winter than you usually (Texas), so the cooling it provides in the summer is just as big of a benefit.

View attachment 347175
(https://web.archive.org/web/20120822160141/http://www.geo4va.vt.edu/A1/A1.htm)

'Climate battery' on youtube should have tons of examples. This video shows the basics of installation of the excavation/climate battery.

Fantastic, thank you for all this! I’ll check out those other videos, and see what I can come up with.
 

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