Need sulcata outdoor enclosure ideas

Maddoggy

Active Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2021
Messages
183
Location (City and/or State)
Vero Beach Florida
My sulcata baby's are getting larger everyday and I have to start planning and constructiing larger outdoor enclosures.With the help of Tom, I have gotten a pretty good idea for nite boxes. The fencing barriers are what im not quite sure of. I was planning on chain link fence with visual barriers. I have also seen livestock panels.Any ideas are appreciated. This time I thought I would ask and not have to regret making a mistake and redo it.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
64,134
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
My sulcata baby's are getting larger everyday and I have to start planning and constructiing larger outdoor enclosures.With the help of Tom, I have gotten a pretty good idea for nite boxes. The fencing barriers are what im not quite sure of. I was planning on chain link fence with visual barriers. I have also seen livestock panels.Any ideas are appreciated. This time I thought I would ask and not have to regret making a mistake and redo it.
When they are smaller, say under 40 pounds or so, slumpstone or cinder blocks stacked 3 high with a half block off set in the middle will work. After that you need something heavier duty.

4x4 posts with 2x12 boards will work. Chain link can work too, but the visual barrier is a must or they will heat themselves on it and push through it. @NorCal tortoise guy came up with a great method using 55 gallon plastic drums sawed in half and filled with dirt.
 

Maddoggy

Active Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2021
Messages
183
Location (City and/or State)
Vero Beach Florida
When they are smaller, say under 40 pounds or so, slumpstone or cinder blocks stacked 3 high with a half block off set in the middle will work. After that you need something heavier duty.

4x4 posts with 2x12 boards will work. Chain link can work too, but the visual barrier is a must or they will heat themselves on it and push through it. @NorCal tortoise guy came up with a great method using 55 gallon plastic drums sawed in half and filled with dirt.
How high does the visual have to be? Is 12 inches high enough if I use 2 x12 boards. How far to space 4x4s?
 

Maddoggy

Active Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2021
Messages
183
Location (City and/or State)
Vero Beach Florida
When they are smaller, say under 40 pounds or so, slumpstone or cinder blocks stacked 3 high with a half block off set in the middle will work. After that you need something heavier duty.

4x4 posts with 2x12 boards will work. Chain link can work too, but the visual barrier is a must or they will heat themselves on it and push through it. @NorCal tortoise guy came up with a great method using 55 gallon plastic drums sawed in half and filled with dirt.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
64,134
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
How high does the visual have to be? Is 12 inches high enough if I use 2 x12 boards. How far to space 4x4s?
I would do 8 foot 4x4 pressure treated posts. Cut each one in half and have 24 inches underground and 24 inches above ground. Put these upright posts on 8 foot centers since your 2x12s are 96 inches long. A 2x12 is actually 1.5x11.5, and one row of these will be plenty for another year or two. You can add the second row later. 11.5 x 2 = 23inches high, and that is enough for even large adult male sulcatas. Screw the ends of the 2x12s into your posts with some high quality screws like "Deckmate" screws from Home Depot. I'd use the 4" screws and drill a pilot hole with a countersink bit so you don't split the ends. Those deck screws are super strong and that coating is super weather resistant. I've used and re-used the same screws in multiple projects spanning two decades and still using them today.

I saw another trick to make your lumber last longer in the south, that we don't bother with here due to the lack of rain. Cut a mild angle at the top of each post so that the rain runs off instead of pooling. Paint or stain the cut end to water proof it. Put the factory treated ends in the ground and just do all your cuts in half with a miter saw set at an angle. This makes it so there is still one single cut per post for maximum length, but you get you angle.

Also, put the boards on the INSIDE so when the torts push on them they are pushing against the whole buried post, and not just the 2 four inch screws on the end of each board.
 

Maddoggy

Active Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2021
Messages
183
Location (City and/or State)
Vero Beach Florida
Tom you have mentioned 2x12 boards on 4x4s. How high do you have to go . One 2x12 will give me 11 and a half inches high. Do I need two boards high to have a fence 23inches high? How far would you space 4x4s..
I would do 8 foot 4x4 pressure treated posts. Cut each one in half and have 24 inches underground and 24 inches above ground. Put these upright posts on 8 foot centers since your 2x12s are 96 inches long. A 2x12 is actually 1.5x11.5, and one row of these will be plenty for another year or two. You can add the second row later. 11.5 x 2 = 23inches high, and that is enough for even large adult male sulcatas. Screw the ends of the 2x12s into your posts with some high quality screws like "Deckmate" screws from Home Depot. I'd use the 4" screws and drill a pilot hole with a countersink bit so you don't split the ends. Those deck screws are super strong and that coating is super weather resistant. I've used and re-used the same screws in multiple projects spanning two decades and still using them today.

I saw another trick to make your lumber last longer in the south, that we don't bother with here due to the lack of rain. Cut a mild angle at the top of each post so that the rain runs off instead of pooling. Paint or stain the cut end to water proof it. Put the factory treated ends in the ground and just do all your cuts in half with a miter saw set at an angle. This makes it so there is still one single cut per post for maximum length, but you get you angle.

Also, put the boards on the INSIDE so when the torts push on them they are pushing against the whole buried post, and not just the 2 four inch screws on the end of each board.
Thanks Tom I got it. Im also a big fan of "deckmates"
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tom

Maddoggy

Active Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2021
Messages
183
Location (City and/or State)
Vero Beach Florida
I would do 8 foot 4x4 pressure treated posts. Cut each one in half and have 24 inches underground and 24 inches above ground. Put these upright posts on 8 foot centers since your 2x12s are 96 inches long. A 2x12 is actually 1.5x11.5, and one row of these will be plenty for another year or two. You can add the second row later. 11.5 x 2 = 23inches high, and that is enough for even large adult male sulcatas. Screw the ends of the 2x12s into your posts with some high quality screws like "Deckmate" screws from Home Depot. I'd use the 4" screws and drill a pilot hole with a countersink bit so you don't split the ends. Those deck screws are super strong and that coating is super weather resistant. I've used and re-used the same screws in multiple projects spanning two decades and still using them today.

I saw another trick to make your lumber last longer in the south, that we don't bother with here due to the lack of rain. Cut a mild angle at the top of each post so that the rain runs off instead of pooling. Paint or stain the cut end to water proof it. Put the factory treated ends in the ground and just do all your cuts in half with a miter saw set at an angle. This makes it so there is still one single cut per post for maximum length, but you get you angle.

Also, put the boards on the INSIDE so when the torts push on them they are pushing against the whole buried post, and not just the 2 four inch screws on the end of each board.
Tom what is a good size outdoor enclosure for a pair or trio of adult sulcatas? I understand bigger is better but what do you consider is minimum?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
64,134
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Tom what is a good size outdoor enclosure for a pair or trio of adult sulcatas? I understand bigger is better but what do you consider is minimum?
They should NEVER be in a pair. That is a slow death sentence with rare exception. Groups of adult females usually get along very well, and groups with one male and three or four females usually work too, but then you will literally have a new full time job of tending to eggs and 100s of babies. Its best to house males all alone and females in groups or alone. Never pairs, not for any combination of sexes.

Minimum size for one adult is 50x50 or 2500 square feet. With a group of females, that size or a little more will work. With a male and a group of females, I'd go double or triple that to give them all room. Lots of sight barriers built in too. These are MINIMUM sizes.

The above enclosure size numbers are more or less made up by me based on my experience keeping, breeding, and housing this species and others since the early 90s. A Sulcata won't drop dead if its kept in an enclosure that is only 2499 square feet. We have to put a number to it, and 50x50 is on the small side, but adequate to meet their exercise needs in my experience. 30x50 isn't the end of the world, but I start to get more concerned about impaction and bladder stones, both of which can be contributed to by small enclosures and torts that don't walk around enough. Tortoises need much more room than most other reptiles. Giant tortoise species need giant tortoise enclosures to go with them. I've been reading and studying a lot on giant tortoise species in the last couple of years and also observing keeping styles in zoos and private collections. I speculate that one of the reasons for failure to keep giant torts alive and well in so many zoos is small enclosures. Poor diet being another contributing factors. Carrots lettuce and tomatoes are NOT good tortoise foods for giants. They need grass. Lots and lots of grass to eat, and they need enormous enclosures to walk around in. If a 600 gram Russian tortoise needs a minimum of 4x8 feet, do the math for a 272,155 gram adult male Galapagos or Aldabra tortoise. 32 sq ft x 453(how many times bigger a 600 pound giant is compared to a male Russian) = 14,515 sq feet, which is almost half an acre, which I feel is still on the small side. I've seen Galapagos tortoises and Aldabras housed in pens that were several acres, and it is magnificent. And they are HEALTHY that way walking around and grazing on grass and weeds all day long.

Long answer to a quick question, I know, but go as big as you can. The more room your sulcatas have to walk around, the better.
 

Maddoggy

Active Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2021
Messages
183
Location (City and/or State)
Vero Beach Florida
They should NEVER be in a pair. That is a slow death sentence with rare exception. Groups of adult females usually get along very well, and groups with one male and three or four females usually work too, but then you will literally have a new full time job of tending to eggs and 100s of babies. Its best to house males all alone and females in groups or alone. Never pairs, not for any combination of sexes.

Minimum size for one adult is 50x50 or 2500 square feet. With a group of females, that size or a little more will work. With a male and a group of females, I'd go double or triple that to give them all room. Lots of sight barriers built in too. These are MINIMUM sizes.

The above enclosure size numbers are more or less made up by me based on my experience keeping, breeding, and housing this species and others since the early 90s. A Sulcata won't drop dead if its kept in an enclosure that is only 2499 square feet. We have to put a number to it, and 50x50 is on the small side, but adequate to meet their exercise needs in my experience. 30x50 isn't the end of the world, but I start to get more concerned about impaction and bladder stones, both of which can be contributed to by small enclosures and torts that don't walk around enough. Tortoises need much more room than most other reptiles. Giant tortoise species need giant tortoise enclosures to go with them. I've been reading and studying a lot on giant tortoise species in the last couple of years and also observing keeping styles in zoos and private collections. I speculate that one of the reasons for failure to keep giant torts alive and well in so many zoos is small enclosures. Poor diet being another contributing factors. Carrots lettuce and tomatoes are NOT good tortoise foods for giants. They need grass. Lots and lots of grass to eat, and they need enormous enclosures to walk around in. If a 600 gram Russian tortoise needs a minimum of 4x8 feet, do the math for a 272,155 gram adult male Galapagos or Aldabra tortoise. 32 sq ft x 453(how many times bigger a 600 pound giant is compared to a male Russian) = 14,515 sq feet, which is almost half an acre, which I feel is still on the small side. I've seen Galapagos tortoises and Aldabras housed in pens that were several acres, and it is magnificent. And they are HEALTHY that way walking around and grazing on grass and weeds all day long.

Long answer to a quick question, I know, but go as big as you can. The more room your sulcatas have to walk around, the better.
Tom, thanks again, I have roughly 180 ftx80ft so I should be able to swing 3 separate pens each pen around 3200 to 3600 sq ft perhaps a lil smaller . I have taken in account both of the ways you have suggested for fencing. If I use chain link I will have to install a visual barrier. I thought I might use. Suntop foam polycarbonate sheets attached to the fence. I could attach them by using wood screws with fender washers screwed inti a backer board on the other side. The sheets are a little pricy. I went to Home Depot and priced both ways .If I use two rows of 2x12s, it will cost around $550 for 50ft. If I use chain link with a polycarbonate sheet as a visual barrier it will cost around $420 . Surprisingly a treated 2x12 is only $2 more then a untreated one, so I thought I would use treated 2x12s. Do you think that treated lumber is safe?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
64,134
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Tom, thanks again, I have roughly 180 ftx80ft so I should be able to swing 3 separate pens each pen around 3200 to 3600 sq ft perhaps a lil smaller . I have taken in account both of the ways you have suggested for fencing. If I use chain link I will have to install a visual barrier. I thought I might use. Suntop foam polycarbonate sheets attached to the fence. I could attach them by using wood screws with fender washers screwed inti a backer board on the other side. The sheets are a little pricy. I went to Home Depot and priced both ways .If I use two rows of 2x12s, it will cost around $550 for 50ft. If I use chain link with a polycarbonate sheet as a visual barrier it will cost around $420 . Surprisingly a treated 2x12 is only $2 more then a untreated one, so I thought I would use treated 2x12s. Do you think that treated lumber is safe?
Pressure treated lumber is totally safe for outdoor use.

I'm not sure how well the poly sheets will hold up once the torts get some size on them. I've never done it that way. I've seen it done with those for smaller tort species and it was fine, but big sulcatas can be very destructive. 11/32 plywood is about $40 a sheet now. You can make three 8 foot strips, 16" high, from each sheet. That would be about $80 to cover 48 feet.
 

Maddoggy

Active Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2021
Messages
183
Location (City and/or State)
Vero Beach Florida
Pressure treated lumber is totally safe for outdoor use.

I'm not sure how well the poly sheets will hold up once the torts get some size on them. I've never done it that way. I've seen it done with those for smaller tort species and it was fine, but big sulcatas can be very destructive. 11/32 plywood is about $40 a sheet now. You can make three 8 foot strips, 16" high, from each sheet. That would be about $80 to cover 48 feet.
I thought of that but was concerned that plywood would warp and distort in the high humidity and wet climate. I probably will try it because it will make the whole project more affordable. I will just have to coat the plywood with a good sealer and attach it so it doesn't warp. Thanks again Tom I have much food for thought. The beauty of this project is that I have the time to research and make it the right
 

Jenna524

Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2021
Messages
63
Location (City and/or State)
Central Valley, CA
We recently had to add fencing to our yard so we could keep our Sulcata off the cement. Here’s our solution for now. So far it’s worked perfectly. It’s wooden posts on either side of hardiplank siding (8ft. X 16 in. Siding). The posts are positioned so that we slide the planks between the posts. Our Sulcata has not been able to knock it over at all. We made it less permanent on purpose, so we can easily remove it if needed.

We used the same siding for a more permanent fence in a different area of the pen. In this pen area, we made a picket fence on one side, and attached the siding to the other, making a strong impenetrable wall. We also dug into the ground and placed 16” long cinder block pavers into the ground to discourage burrowing under the pen fence.
 

Attachments

  • E9C3DE24-6F30-40AB-A265-E58D3207CA6F.png
    E9C3DE24-6F30-40AB-A265-E58D3207CA6F.png
    1 MB · Views: 13
  • A23CA58F-B292-4601-A009-B3346E2AC9AF.jpeg
    A23CA58F-B292-4601-A009-B3346E2AC9AF.jpeg
    2.8 MB · Views: 17

Maddoggy

Active Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2021
Messages
183
Location (City and/or State)
Vero Beach Florida
We recently had to add fencing to our yard so we could keep our Sulcata off the cement. Here’s our solution for now. So far it’s worked perfectly. It’s wooden posts on either side of hardiplank siding (8ft. X 16 in. Siding). The posts are positioned so that we slide the planks between the posts. Our Sulcata has not been able to knock it over at all. We made it less permanent on purpose, so we can easily remove it if needed.

We used the same siding for a more permanent fence in a different area of the pen. In this pen area, we made a picket fence on one side, and attached the siding to the other, making a strong impenetrable wall. We also dug into the ground and placed 16” long cinder block pavers into the ground to discourage burrowing under the pen fence.
Thanks much appreciated
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
64,134
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
We recently had to add fencing to our yard so we could keep our Sulcata off the cement. Here’s our solution for now. So far it’s worked perfectly. It’s wooden posts on either side of hardiplank siding (8ft. X 16 in. Siding). The posts are positioned so that we slide the planks between the posts. Our Sulcata has not been able to knock it over at all. We made it less permanent on purpose, so we can easily remove it if needed.

We used the same siding for a more permanent fence in a different area of the pen. In this pen area, we made a picket fence on one side, and attached the siding to the other, making a strong impenetrable wall. We also dug into the ground and placed 16” long cinder block pavers into the ground to discourage burrowing under the pen fence.
Well done! I've not seen that "hard plank siding", but it looks like what I've been looking for. It is wood, or is it that plastic composite material? What is the cost for an 8 foot piece of it? Wood has gotten so expensive, and that composite material seems to last a long time. I'm always looking for better ways to do things. 16 inches will be fine for all but the largest adult male sulcatas.
 

dd33

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 22, 2018
Messages
563
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
I don't want to sound negative but Hardi plank is way too brittle to hold back a sulcata and so are those wood stakes you are holding it up with. Hardi is great siding but it can't tolerate flexing or impact at all. They will also wear it down and expose the fibers inside as they pace the perimeter and rub their shell against it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tom

dd33

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 22, 2018
Messages
563
Location (City and/or State)
Florida
I wouldn't suggest the plywood option with our Florida climate. Go with pressure treated lumber for the visual barrier. Don't even consider non pressure treated wood, it will start to rot the day you install it.

Check pricing on other sizes of 2x material. It may be cheaper to go with a higher stack of 2x6 or 2x8 than the 2x12. If you tighten up the spacing on the posts you might be fine with 5/4 decking or corral boards. Thick cut corral boards are 1 1/4" thick and tend to be cheaper than traditional 2x lumber but the price has been all over the place recently.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tom

MenagerieGrl

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Nov 11, 2020
Messages
1,192
Location (City and/or State)
El Sobrante, CA.
They should NEVER be in a pair. That is a slow death sentence with rare exception. Groups of adult females usually get along very well, and groups with one male and three or four females usually work too, but then you will literally have a new full time job of tending to eggs and 100s of babies. Its best to house males all alone and females in groups or alone. Never pairs, not for any combination of sexes.

Minimum size for one adult is 50x50 or 2500 square feet. With a group of females, that size or a little more will work. With a male and a group of females, I'd go double or triple that to give them all room. Lots of sight barriers built in too. These are MINIMUM sizes.

The above enclosure size numbers are more or less made up by me based on my experience keeping, breeding, and housing this species and others since the early 90s. A Sulcata won't drop dead if its kept in an enclosure that is only 2499 square feet. We have to put a number to it, and 50x50 is on the small side, but adequate to meet their exercise needs in my experience. 30x50 isn't the end of the world, but I start to get more concerned about impaction and bladder stones, both of which can be contributed to by small enclosures and torts that don't walk around enough. Tortoises need much more room than most other reptiles. Giant tortoise species need giant tortoise enclosures to go with them. I've been reading and studying a lot on giant tortoise species in the last couple of years and also observing keeping styles in zoos and private collections. I speculate that one of the reasons for failure to keep giant torts alive and well in so many zoos is small enclosures. Poor diet being another contributing factors. Carrots lettuce and tomatoes are NOT good tortoise foods for giants. They need grass. Lots and lots of grass to eat, and they need enormous enclosures to walk around in. If a 600 gram Russian tortoise needs a minimum of 4x8 feet, do the math for a 272,155 gram adult male Galapagos or Aldabra tortoise. 32 sq ft x 453(how many times bigger a 600 pound giant is compared to a male Russian) = 14,515 sq feet, which is almost half an acre, which I feel is still on the small side. I've seen Galapagos tortoises and Aldabras housed in pens that were several acres, and it is magnificent. And they are HEALTHY that way walking around and grazing on grass and weeds all day long.

Long answer to a quick question, I know, but go as big as you can. The more room your sulcatas have to walk around, the better.
And with a large area like that , there is less chance of over grazing in one area. Although if they like one area for a reason, there is other area that can thrive...
 

Jenna524

Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2021
Messages
63
Location (City and/or State)
Central Valley, CA
Well done! I've not seen that "hard plank siding", but it looks like what I've been looking for. It is wood, or is it that plastic composite material? What is the cost for an 8 foot piece of it? Wood has gotten so expensive, and that composite material seems to last a long time. I'm always looking for better ways to do things. 16 inches will be fine for all but the largest adult male sulcatas.
This is the siding we used from Home Depot. One side is already painted. The Home Depot guy said we should NOT need to paint the other side, and thought it should hold up for 5-10 years or more without paint—which seems about right for our size tort. Everything is expensive right now. We cut the boards to be 16 inches, and got three boards per sheet. So I think it ended up being about $15 per 8ft. board. The stakes have worked great so far as long as they are deep enough (and it’s easy to add more stakes if needed).
 

Attachments

  • A1DEF10F-AF2C-4D90-B6F2-87410B00ACF4.jpeg
    A1DEF10F-AF2C-4D90-B6F2-87410B00ACF4.jpeg
    1.6 MB · Views: 9
  • CCAC0E48-0087-49AE-8D17-A1C10B0C5C41.jpeg
    CCAC0E48-0087-49AE-8D17-A1C10B0C5C41.jpeg
    1.8 MB · Views: 9
  • Like
Reactions: Tom

Jenna524

Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2021
Messages
63
Location (City and/or State)
Central Valley, CA
When we originally set up our yard, we started with a siding plank that looked smoother, which we put up against our permanent fencing. There is almost no sign of wear, except for on one board that was originally used in an area that our tort could see underneath. In that spot he tried to dig his way to freedom, which wore down the board and frayed. In every place that we nailed down the board properly, there is zero bowing. The only bows come where our fence didn’t meet up with the top of the board (as seen in the picture). But even with the bow, everything is solid, and Toki thinks that’s the end of the path and turns around.

Our new fence is a less permanently made fence on purpose so we can easily remove when needed. However, it has been solid and works well. We bought a different siding with more wood crossing, which the Home Depot guys said is stronger. This one has not seemed to fray as the original siding we got did. (See pictures to see the difference between frayed siding and new siding).

We’re in this for the long haul. So we’re okay with the experience of trying new things and adapting to the needs. We’ll let you know in a few years how well it held up!
 

Attachments

  • 39C3B73A-CA49-4C84-A918-8E54395A4F37.jpeg
    39C3B73A-CA49-4C84-A918-8E54395A4F37.jpeg
    2.3 MB · Views: 9
  • 37F7A500-FAFD-481E-B40E-04587CCB2FBB.jpeg
    37F7A500-FAFD-481E-B40E-04587CCB2FBB.jpeg
    2.3 MB · Views: 9
  • 8F48E06F-BE94-456E-A310-D0FCDC56531A.jpeg
    8F48E06F-BE94-456E-A310-D0FCDC56531A.jpeg
    2.3 MB · Views: 8
  • E1D70D74-26C9-46B9-B239-2CB3C6508CEF.jpeg
    E1D70D74-26C9-46B9-B239-2CB3C6508CEF.jpeg
    1.7 MB · Views: 7
  • 85AA8AB4-E6CA-4F2B-AB27-CB44B31DDDC8.jpeg
    85AA8AB4-E6CA-4F2B-AB27-CB44B31DDDC8.jpeg
    2.1 MB · Views: 7
  • 93D8DAD5-17A9-4A0D-88E5-DDF5EBBFC6BE.jpeg
    93D8DAD5-17A9-4A0D-88E5-DDF5EBBFC6BE.jpeg
    2.3 MB · Views: 8

shawnateerow

Active Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2020
Messages
186
Location (City and/or State)
Maurice
When we first adopted our adult sulcata we had chain link fence and he busted out because he could see through it. Since then, we enclosed his yard with 2 ft x 8 ft tin sheets with metal poles and 4 x 4's dug into the ground as supports. He uses it to turn around while making his laps but never again tried to escape since he cannot see through it. It also works wonderfully to keep the wind at bay.
 

New Posts

Top