Is this hill too steep? And other questions…

Joined
May 13, 2021
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51
Location (City and/or State)
Las Vegas, NV
I’m currently working on the outdoor enclosure for my Russian and the hardest part has definitely been his hide.

The dirt in my area is no good so I have been buying blocks of coco coir, which I don’t mind, but because there’s no good area to dig into, I’m having to artificially create a deep enough space for Beans to have a cool area. I live in Las Vegas so the temperatures can get up to about 120 F in the summer, although I also have an indoor enclosure so on those days I would certainly keep him inside. However, at the moment my indoor enclosure is way too small so Id like him to have a cool enough space outside that he can spend more than just an hour outside every 2-3 days.

Right now it’s 90 F and cloudy and the temperature inside the hide is about 77-78 F so it’s definitely not deep enough to be the right temperature on a day where it’s 100+. I need to create a larger mount on top, but is what I have right now too steep for him? I plan to add Reptichip on top to hopefully help him climb with more grip and make sure the soil underneath stays wet in the summer heat. I usually check outside every 10-20 minutes to manage his temperature, but I’m afraid of finding him upside down and not getting to him soon enough :(

Im also attaching a picture of what the ground in the rest of the enclosure is like which is the same coco coir with Reptichip on top with a mixture of Testudo mix, red clover, and dandelions.

Currently there is only that single very sad and dead fountain grass in there, but I plan to add more fountain grass when I have the general layout finished in order to provide some shade, and ideally the weeds all grow enough to provide a small amount as well. Despite the space being 3x14 ft, Beans is ALWAYS trying to get out. Is this because there’s not enough breaking his line of sight? I’ve read that Russians are very good escape artists and love to climb. Because the enclosure isn’t finished, he’s kept in with retaining wall blocks that arent tall enough, but I do plan to build up and I keep an eye on him long enough that he couldn’t escape. Aside from the fountain grass, does anyone have any suggestions for what I can add inside the enclosure to help him feel better about being in there? There’s nothing in there yet besides the weeds and that single fountain grass, the hide is right in the center, but I don’t want to add decor that isn’t going to be beneficial to him until he’s comfortable with what exists.
 

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Joined
May 13, 2021
Messages
51
Location (City and/or State)
Las Vegas, NV
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Here’s a picture of him inside right now :) I just double checked the temperature also and it’s 75 F right in the back. I don’t mind leveling out the hill more and stretching it out wide for a more gradual height transition, but I’ll also be killing a lot of his little sprouts because there’s way too many for me to pull and replant…
 

zolasmum

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View attachment 330557
Here’s a picture of him inside right now :) I just double checked the temperature also and it’s 75 F right in the back. I don’t mind leveling out the hill more and stretching it out wide for a more gradual height transition, but I’ll also be killing a lot of his little sprouts because there’s way too many for me to pull and replant…
He looks really cute peering out of his cave, and it's great that you are going to so much trouble to get everything just right for him. He will have a lot of fun climbing and digging when it is finished - lucky little fellow.
Angie
 

TriciaStringer

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I like to plant the tortoise forage seeds. Lots of weed seeds in it. It’s called broadleaf tortoise forage. I got some from zellajake farms. You’d have to get it all good and established in his yard before adding him though. It is very normal for him to patrol around looking for escape. He’ll calm down some the more he is in there. They are excellent climbers so the hill isn’t too steep. I like using the leaning pots. They have a small opening but are very deep. I dig into the ground to bury most of it and then pile more dirt on top. I then plant heavily around and the opening to add shade. I plant strong smelling herbs that are tortoise safe but they don’t usually eat because of the strong smell and taste, rosemary for example. I know your area probably doesn’t get much rain, what about wind? If not, you could use a small shade cloth over the pot area to add more layers of shade. This should protect him from even the high temps.
 

Cathie G

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I use a beach umbrella ⛱️ for my little Russian placed on the out side of the enclosure. Some of his enclosure gets really hot in the afternoon ( I've seen it 120% or more) with no shade because the sun shines there from morning until about 3pm. The umbrella helps keep a part of it at least 20% cooler maybe more. By the way I love the picture. What a little cutie.?
 
Joined
May 13, 2021
Messages
51
Location (City and/or State)
Las Vegas, NV
He looks really cute peering out of his cave, and it's great that you are going to so much trouble to get everything just right for him. He will have a lot of fun climbing and digging when it is finished - lucky little fellow.
Angie
Thanks!! I'm really excited for him to have some good exploration room. ? Will definitely post some pics when everything's all set up.
 
Joined
May 13, 2021
Messages
51
Location (City and/or State)
Las Vegas, NV
I like to plant the tortoise forage seeds. Lots of weed seeds in it. It’s called broadleaf tortoise forage. I got some from zellajake farms. You’d have to get it all good and established in his yard before adding him though. It is very normal for him to patrol around looking for escape. He’ll calm down some the more he is in there. They are excellent climbers so the hill isn’t too steep. I like using the leaning pots. They have a small opening but are very deep. I dig into the ground to bury most of it and then pile more dirt on top. I then plant heavily around and the opening to add shade. I plant strong smelling herbs that are tortoise safe but they don’t usually eat because of the strong smell and taste, rosemary for example. I know your area probably doesn’t get much rain, what about wind? If not, you could use a small shade cloth over the pot area to add more layers of shade. This should protect him from even the high temps.
I'll have to compare Zellajake's to the TortoiseSupply ones I have! Definitely trying to get the biggest variety I can. I also didn't think about adding strong herbs to the enclosure but that sound's like a perfect idea. Did you have any problems with them not wanting to be around the herbs at all? It looks like rosemary and mint actually grow pretty well here so I was thinking I could use those if he wouldn't blatantly avoid them.

Unfortunately we do have some incredibly awful windy days, but I completely forgot I could just add a literal shade over the top. Thank you so much for the great ideas!
 
Joined
May 13, 2021
Messages
51
Location (City and/or State)
Las Vegas, NV
I use a beach umbrella ⛱️ for my little Russian placed on the out side of the enclosure. Some of his enclosure gets really hot in the afternoon ( I've seen it 120% or more) with no shade because the sun shines there from morning until about 3pm. The umbrella helps keep a part of it at least 20% cooler maybe more. By the way I love the picture. What a little cutie.?
Thank you!! And thanks for reminding me, I actually just recently got a beach umbrella despite there being no beach here LOL. I think it's quite a bit too big for me to secure it long term but until I can get the top portion built with a proper shade over top that's exactly what I'll use ?
 

Cathie G

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Thank you!! And thanks for reminding me, I actually just recently got a beach umbrella despite there being no beach here LOL. I think it's quite a bit too big for me to secure it long term but until I can get the top portion built with a proper shade over top that's exactly what I'll use ?
I used one of the regular cheap umbrella stands you fill with water and wedged a tool I found for a quarter ? to hold it in place. You can't believe what the tool was. It was one of those thinga mabob things you use to open a manhole cover. ? When my son saw it he laughed his head off and said MOM whatever! Why?!!! It did come in handy later though?
 

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