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Leopard Tortoise Heated Night Box

Discussion in 'Tortoise Enclosures' started by Team Gomberg, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    I did my best to copy Tom's "Best Night Box Design Yet" as seen in his thread here.. http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread-66867.html

    I'm not a super "handy-woman" but I have used a fair share of tools. If a stay at home mom (like me) can build this, then anyone can!

    It was fairly easy to do and I only have a few battle wounds :p

    I decided to make it 4'x 2'x 2' with a 12"x 12" door.

    I used 2x2s for the framing and plywood for the walls. The roof, door, floor and walls are all insulated with 1.5" thick rigid foam insulation.
    I caulked the corners and edges.
    Weather stripping is used around the top.

    I overlapped 2 layers of vinyl stripping for the door flaps.

    The heater is a mini oil filled heat radiator.

    The total cost was about $150. I had some of the materials already or it would have cost more. But I'm sure the expense will be worth it when I save on the monthly electric bill!

    Here are the photos:

    Started as a simple frame:
    [​IMG]

    Insulating the roof:
    [​IMG]

    Putting up the outer plywood walls and the insulation:
    [​IMG]

    Covering all the insulation with inner plywood walls:
    [​IMG]

    Insulating the floor:
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    All covered up:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Painting:
    [​IMG]

    Adding the door flaps:
    [​IMG]

    I used roofing shingles for traction on the door. The step up to the door ramp was too steep so I made an extra ramp. The door locks at night and I simply move the extra ramp off to the side:
    [​IMG]

    Putting in the oil filled radiator. I wanted to keep the turtles away from it with a barrier. The hardware cloth wall came about by accident but I'm very pleased with it. I caulked around the bottom so hay can't slip under there:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The turtles already enjoy it:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The house sits next to my husband's tool shed and under a covering. It's protected from rain and will be kept cool in the shade of the block wall during summer:
    [​IMG]

    Right now I'm using the radiator's internal thermostat. It's keeps a steady 80-83F. These guys only have access to the house during the day. At night they come inside to sleep in a humid chamber and I turn the heater off and lock the house door. Once they sleep in here I'll set it up with a digital thermostat.

    Hope this helps anyone else build one of these wonderful tort houses. I'm sure as my herd grows (either in number or individual's size) I'll have to make another, larger one. But for now, this suits us just perfectly!
  2. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Good job Heather. However, turtles? Hmmm, okay, just picking:D Tatum would cringe if I called him a turtle:p :D
    How cold are your outside temps getting?
  3. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    Yes! I say it. Turtles, turtles, turtles :D
    I used to correct everyone with the "it's a tortoise!" Until I learned that a tortoise is still technically a turtle. I now happily prefer to say turtle ;) lol

    On topic: at night it gets into the 50s I think. I don't really monitor it because they arent staying outside at night.
  4. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    But your day temps, what are they? Your running the heater during the day when they are out, correct? or is it just set too run, if it were needed?
  5. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    I see what you are asking now.

    It's still sunny here but chilly. In the 60's and 70's during the day. So, the heater is set for 80F. They spend most of the day in the box but I have caught them coming out to roam the yard for a bit of sunning and grazing.
    They haven't figured out how to go back in yet. Once I see them settle into their usual spot I put them at the base of the ramp and then they run right up and in.
    KarenMitchell likes this.
  6. lynnedit

    lynnedit Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Beautiful job! And your paint job is nicer than Tom's. :p:D
  7. sibi

    sibi Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Nice job Heather:) This is just a thought, but maybe the turtles don't make their way back because the sides of the ramp is not blocked off. It's like walking a ramp with no sides. It could be scary for humans, how more so for turtles. If you put bricks on the sides to form a barrier against the ground and the ramp, maybe your torts will feel safer crossing the ramp. It will also look more like a finished house if you create a brick box to put plants on each side of the ramp. What do you think?
  8. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    I'm going to consider a planter idea....hmmm.
    I don't think they make their way back into the house because it's a huge yard and it's only been set up with heat for less than a week. I hear it's common to have to train them to go into a new house. The ramp isn't steep at all and they have no problems going up or down it.
  9. Dizisdalife

    Dizisdalife Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Great job. I like the way you fenced off the heater. Protects the "turtles" from the heater and allows the heat to circulate freely. Nice location for it too.
  10. erica anne

    erica anne Member

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    Fantastic! I am almost ready to start my outdoor enclosure project. Thanks for adding details like the measurements you used, caulking etc. I am not handy at all but this will help! I have a question though, what did you use to cut the wood? Did the "lumberyard" where you purchased the wood help you with this or did you do this on your own?
  11. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    Erica, home depot can cut for you but I had the tools to do it myself. I used a circular saw and a jig saw for the door opening.
  12. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    Just an update:

    I set up a thermostat in the box. The oil filled radiator is between low/medium and plugged into my Hydrofarm thermostat set to 81F. It's been running like this for a week now and I gotta tell ya, this thing must be super efficient! No matter when I go check on the temps they are always in the low 80s and the radiator is off. I check it 10x a day (sometimes in the middle of the night) and this thing just keeps the heat. Talk about efficient! Love this insulation :D
    Tom, what a GREAT design!
    1388813054122.jpg

    83.6F
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    1388813110462.jpg
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2014
  13. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    So glad it's working for you. Mine runs almost constantly, but with a fan blowing the heat down, it keeps the shed between 78-81 at night. It's warmer during the day with the added basking spots. This is of course in much colder weather then you have and in a 8x12 well insulated shed. How's the torts doing with it. Still no problem with them using it? I seen on another thread you have your oldest, Levi? Out 24/7 now, is that right? No bringing him in at all? How's that going?
  14. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Yeah... I guess its okay... :D

    I just finished building a new one. 4x4' for my two female SA leopards. I'm heating it with a Kane mat and a RHP all on one thermostat, but its insulated just like yours.


    See you tomorrow.
  15. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    Barb, Levi is out full time now and goes into the house on his own. It's awesome!

    Tom, why the Kane mat and RHP as the heat source over another oil filled radiator? Any particular reason?
  16. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Smaller box mainly. Also I want to try some different things. Since moving outside full time the scute margins on my leopards are suffering from the dryness. I'm trying to add some humidity by placing a water jug right on the heat mat. In my big box I need the whole box to be warm since multiple tortoises will be spread out all over it. In this smaller box with just two smaller torts, I like the idea of them being able to park on the heat source and stay warmer at night or have the option of being in the warmer air in the box, but not directly on or under the heat. I'm always tinkering and trying to learn new stuff. I PMd Frances to ask about the drying effects of the RHPs, but she hadn't tested them yet. I'm wondering if they are more or less desiccating than CHE's. You know me. My mind never rests. I used this sort of system for several years on one of my adult male sulcatas, and I was pretty happy with it.
  17. jshaw9_

    jshaw9_ Member

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    What was used for the 'door flaps' is it some sort of plastic? Just curious as I nee a way to try to lock humidity in my humid hide. Cheers jay.
    [hr]
    Vinyl stripping, sport ignore my last post.

    Thanks
    [hr]
    Meant to say 'sorry' not 'sport' damn auto correct. Cheers sport :)
  18. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    yes, jshaw it is vinyl stripping.

    I tested the humidity today. Even with a gallon jug of water, it read at 20%RH before I finally pulled the hydrometer out. I was depressed at how low it was!

    I'm now trying to find a solution. I'm considering using top soil as their substrate instead of the hay.
  19. T33's Torts

    T33's Torts Well-Known Member

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    Found it!
    [hr]
    Do you have a link to where I could find the thermostat? I cant find one that has a probe thingy.
  20. featherator

    featherator Member

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    Great box design and instructions! I need to pull this up in a few months..
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