new to outdoor enclosure

Callum Heathman

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Hello,

I have a Hermann tortoise who is about 16 years old, almost all of his life he has been kept in an indoor enclosure with UV light and a heater, and brought outside in to the garden on the warmer days. He has NEVER been hibernated (although do like the idea of doing this).

Now I have my own place and I am able to, I would like to build him an outdoor enclosure, with access to the shed where I will have electricity.

before doing all this, I had a few questions:

1) can we hibernate him in the colder month, if he has never hibernated before? if so, how and when!?

2) his outdoor enclosure is partially built and is a considerable size, this area gets 50/50 sun and shade for majority of the day (between 9-5 ish). once done it will have a mesh type lid to stop him climbing out and to stop things climbing in! I would assume I do not need any sort of heat/light source out here? he has areas where he can dig and climb etc. as well as a small box he sometimes comes in and out of.

3) as mentioned above, I will give him access to the shed (probably via a small cat flap?) in the shed I will build an enclosure that he will have full access to (I may use what he currently has indoors, just adapted to fit). in the enclosure I will have a heat source with a thermometer and UV light. as well has an area where he can sleep. as my shed is not insulated, should I put a lid on this enclosure in the shed to help keep it warm enough? and possibly insulate the enclosures walls and base? or would you suggest insulating the shed? the only bit I have a lid on is his bedding part, the rest is open.

4) during the warmer months, the shed does get very warm so I do not anticipate using the heat, if we do not hibernate him, can he stay outside all year round if the heat source is there for him and we shut up access to the outside? obviously the shed itself can and probably will get cold.

First time moving him outside so want to get it right!

Thank you

Callum.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Callum, and welcome to the Forum!

We have a knowledgeable member who lives in the UK. I'll send a shout-out to her so she can help you - @JoesMum
 

JoesMum

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Hi just posting to say I have seen this.

Welcome from Kent, UK

I have had a long day out today, but will get back to this thread in the morning :)
 

JoesMum

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Hi @Callum Heathman.

I see you're not so very far away from me over in Essex.

I wrote the following describing our outdoor accommodation for our Greek, Joe. Care of the two species is pretty similar, so you can draw directly on that
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/outdoor-accommodation-in-a-colder-uk-climate.140866/

The shed will work well. And you're right that your tort will not need additional heat in it year round.

I don't know the floor area of your shed but, assuming it's a decent size and properly heated, and insulated there is no reason it shouldn't be good year round accommodation.

@Lyn W is in Wales and has a similar setup for her Leopard Tort - a species that cannot hibernate.

As for hibernation, you will see quite a bit about it in my thread above as we hibernated Joe. There's no need to hibernate and, with your shed and our increasingly mild climate, you are giving your tort what is needed to stay awake. You will find your tort slows down as the days grow shorter; that's entirely normal and even happens to those kept indoors.

I should explain that we had our tort for 47 years, but he had to be put to sleep due to a tumour earlier this year :( ; hence references to him in the past tense.
 

Callum Heathman

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sorry to hear about your tort :(

thanks for getting back to me. our shed is a decent size, but is not insulated.

Do you suggest insulating the shed, or, insulating his enclosure that will be inside the shed?

As previously advised, the enclosure I plan on putting inside the shed does not have a lid. I see you used a Perspex roof on your box, maybe I can do something like that as well as further insulation on the walls and floor of the enclosure (to save me having to insulate the entire shed?)

in the box will be a heater and UV light which will provide heat, just want to keep that heat in!

would you suggest not hibernating him, especially if he has never before? will this put him in danger to you think?

thank you.
 

JoesMum

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I had assumed the tortoise would have free access to going outside from the shed, rather than the enclosure being the shed itself.

My setup was for 24/7 outdoor living with hibernation.

The low level of the cold frame meant that a perspex roof helped it act like a mini greenhouse. The sun could shine directly on Joe through the perspex. Of course, UVB doesn't pass through perspex, but that didn't matter as Joe got plenty while roaming the garden.

I am not sure that perspex would help in a shed. It's better to insulate it and have a heat lamp on a timer for basking as I did in the kennel. I used thermal reflective insulation like this in the kennel.

If you're gong for year round you will also need a panel heater of some sort with a thermostat to keep the ambient temperature up when outdoor temperatures fall. To keep the electric bills down, I would improve the insulation too. I would have permanent access to the outdoors, with some sort of "curtain" like our kennel, so your tort can get outside year round. They're not very bright, but they do know when they don't want to be out because it is cold!

I will try to hunt out the posts about @Lyn W's shed for you to see.
 

JoesMum

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Can't link direct to a post which is frustrating... and I also can't find the thread with the photos! This is a start
If you are going to use the shed I would start by insulating it all - floors, wall and roof and draught proof the door. Line with insulation boards and board over. Check it is water and rat proof and have electricity available out there, and make sure you have all the heat and uvb sources ready for them - even our summers can be too cold and damp for these tropical torts, so they will need it heated asap. Line the floor with something waterproof e.g rubber, vinyl flooring or thick plastic etc before covering with substrate to avoid rot. Maybe add a lower false insulated ceiling to keep the heat stop from rising too high.
It is going to involve some cost but once you have everything in place it gets easier.
Just to give you an idea of what the elec equipment cost me - I buy 150w Arcadia MVBs from Pets at Home approx. (£42) The wide dome holders are £25 each in The Range I use 2 . The CHE I use which just gives heat for night use as torts need darkness to sleep was About £21 and the thermostat was £35 also in The Range. You may get cheaper via Amazon but avoid coil bulbs.. My tort also has a radiator in his room which is on 24/7 almost every day, you could use the oil filled rads to help the ambient temp of your shed.
Don't let all this put you off - this is the initial outlay and once everything is bought you just have to replace bulbs now and then. Those torts will certainly have a better life with you.
That's where the CHE is needed - it just gives heat and no light - but my tort also has a radiator on in his room 24/7. When you adapt your shed maybe you could use oil filled rads to help raise the ambient air temp
 

Callum Heathman

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Sorry, he will have open access from the enclosure (in the shed) to the garden enclosure..my reason for using Perspex roof in the indoor enclosure was to help insulate his box, to save me insulating the entire shed, and to allow light in, as apposed to using a piece of wood with would allow no natural light in to his box.

thanks for all the info, think I will give it a go and see how he gets on out there!
 

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