Night box flooring?

Johnkoch

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2016
Messages
59
Location (City and/or State)
Frisco, Texas
So I'm in the process of building a night box and wanted to get others opinion on the floor. So do I cover the floor with anything, to protect the plywood if he pee's or poops on it? I was thinking either to use truck bed liner (Rhino Liner) ,but not sure if it will off gas, or just leave the plywood bare and cover with orchid bark. Other ideas are appreciated. The box is 8' X 4' X 3'.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,953
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I do this many different ways.

What species?
How many?
What size tortoise(s)?
 

Johnkoch

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2016
Messages
59
Location (City and/or State)
Frisco, Texas
One Sulcata and his shell is 15 inches across by 15 inches front to back and weights 15.5 lbs. He's been in his inside enclosure (8' X 3' X 3') since I've had him so I think it's time to move him outside. The outside night box will be very similar to the night box that you designed ("My best night box design so far") it will be on my covered patio since I don't have any mature trees in my back yard to provide the box with shade. Thanks in advance for any advice Tom!!
 

NorCal tortoise guy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
Messages
1,154
Location (City and/or State)
Northern California
When I build my last night box I ended up covering the floor with stall mats made for horses. It has worked well for me to this point. In the past I have also done bare plywood and that has also worked well. I also did dirt floors one time but was not at all happy with that.
 

vladimir

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 18, 2017
Messages
1,372
Location (City and/or State)
Pennsylvania
Currently building a 4x4x2 night box based on the "another night box" thread. I used two coats of drylok extreme, followed by two coats of Kennel Seal. He hasn't moved in yet but so far it seems like it will be easy to clean
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,953
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
One Sulcata and his shell is 15 inches across by 15 inches front to back and weights 15.5 lbs. He's been in his inside enclosure (8' X 3' X 3') since I've had him so I think it's time to move him outside. The outside night box will be very similar to the night box that you designed ("My best night box design so far") it will be on my covered patio since I don't have any mature trees in my back yard to provide the box with shade. Thanks in advance for any advice Tom!!

This is a matter of much debate and I'm sure everyone will have their own opinions. Here are mine with some explanation:
I have tried all sorts of things under lots of tortoises in night boxes over many years. I still have not found a one-size-fits-all solution. I have preferences, but I'm continually trying new ideas, and I'm open to suggestions. On some aspects of tortoise care, I am pretty well set on what I think is the way to go. Like soaking hatchlings every day. No ifs, ands, or buts about that one for me. On what to use for the bottom of a night box? I'm still up in the air and willing to learn and be taught. I have found solutions that work for me by much trial and error, but I'm open to new ideas too.

Sulcatas are very powerful, very heavy animals. Any sort of brushed on type of paint, epoxy or resin will not hold up. I'm using Pond Shield for my newest star tortoise boxes, but they are relatively small and light weight tortoises and I'm using 3" of orchid bark between them and the coating. I don't think pond shield would stand up to the abuse dished out by a sulcata. I've seen people use linoleum or tiles, and that seems like it could work for smaller, less destructive species, but I think a large sulcata would tear that up. I like the horse mat idea, but I don't like the idea of poopy tortoise muddy pee water getting under it and fermenting, and those things are heavy and difficult to manage for lifting and cleaning. I'm also concerned about any sort of fumes or residues from any kind of paint or coating.

The best solution I have found for large sulcatas is a thin layer of dirt and a bunch of grass hay on top of plain untreated plywood. The dirt and hay absorb everything and make clean up pretty easy. I have four adults that have been living this way for years, and the bottom of their enclosure is still in good shape. In the future, if it ever rots or gets too rough, it will be easy to slap a plywood patch right on top of the affected area, and I'll be good to go for several more years. If I was concerned about it, I could pre-install a patch in any new box, and then just replace it every year or two, and the original floor underneath would last forever. But I'm not concerned about it because it doesn't seem to be a problem. I just scrape out the muddy, poopy dirt and hay with a flat headed shovel and toss it in a wheelbarrow. Then I put in fresh dry dirt and a couple flakes of fresh grass hay, and they are good to go.
 

Kristy1970

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2018
Messages
761
Location (City and/or State)
Addis, LA
This is a matter of much debate and I'm sure everyone will have their own opinions. Here are mine with some explanation:
I have tried all sorts of things under lots of tortoises in night boxes over many years. I still have not found a one-size-fits-all solution. I have preferences, but I'm continually trying new ideas, and I'm open to suggestions. On some aspects of tortoise care, I am pretty well set on what I think is the way to go. Like soaking hatchlings every day. No ifs, ands, or buts about that one for me. On what to use for the bottom of a night box? I'm still up in the air and willing to learn and be taught. I have found solutions that work for me by much trial and error, but I'm open to new ideas too.

Sulcatas are very powerful, very heavy animals. Any sort of brushed on type of paint, epoxy or resin will not hold up. I'm using Pond Shield for my newest star tortoise boxes, but they are relatively small and light weight tortoises and I'm using 3" of orchid bark between them and the coating. I don't think pond shield would stand up to the abuse dished out by a sulcata. I've seen people use linoleum or tiles, and that seems like it could work for smaller, less destructive species, but I think a large sulcata would tear that up. I like the horse mat idea, but I don't like the idea of poopy tortoise muddy pee water getting under it and fermenting, and those things are heavy and difficult to manage for lifting and cleaning. I'm also concerned about any sort of fumes or residues from any kind of paint or coating.

The best solution I have found for large sulcatas is a thin layer of dirt and a bunch of grass hay on top of plain untreated plywood. The dirt and hay absorb everything and make clean up pretty easy. I have four adults that have been living this way for years, and the bottom of their enclosure is still in good shape. In the future, if it ever rots or gets too rough, it will be easy to slap a plywood patch right on top of the affected area, and I'll be good to go for several more years. If I was concerned about it, I could pre-install a patch in any new box, and then just replace it every year or two, and the original floor underneath would last forever. But I'm not concerned about it because it doesn't seem to be a problem. I just scrape out the muddy, poopy dirt and hay with a flat headed shovel and toss it in a wheelbarrow. Then I put in fresh dry dirt and a couple flakes of fresh grass hay, and they are good to go.

How often do you clean it out? My little Daisy hates it inside, looks like she is pouting all the time... when we let her free roam in the yard she goes nuts! We follow her around [emoji23] it’s exhausting sometimes.. IMG 2048
When we have to run in our or do something where we can’t follow her, she goes in this little chicken coup, working on sides so she can’t see out and also going to remove the screen on one side and make enclosure much bigger. Her inside habitat is only 2 feet by 4 feet ... not big enough? She is only 2.5 inches. We need a solution...??? The warm room we keep her in is small so running out of options. Would it be safe for really large enclosure under patio set up just like inside?
 

Kristy1970

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2018
Messages
761
Location (City and/or State)
Addis, LA
How often do you clean it out? My little Daisy hates it inside, looks like she is pouting all the time... when we let her free roam in the yard she goes nuts! We follow her around [emoji23] it’s exhausting sometimes.. View attachment 235931
When we have to run in our or do something where we can’t follow her, she goes in this little chicken coup, working on sides so she can’t see out and also going to remove the screen on one side and make enclosure much bigger. Her inside habitat is only 2 feet by 4 feet ... not big enough? She is only 2.5 inches. We need a solution...??? The warm room we keep her in is small so running out of options. Would it be safe for really large enclosure under patio set up just like inside?

IMG 2052 IMG 2049 IMG 2049
I added cypress mulch to the closed in portion of chicken coup.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,953
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I added cypress mulch to the closed in portion of chicken coup.

  • 2x4 is big enough for an indoor enclosure for a little baby, but they will outgrow it faster than you think if conditions are right. I like these cages the best, but they take a long time to get to you. 10-12 weeks is what they tell you. https://apcages.com/collections/terrestrial-cages. The T70 or T100 will last you a year or two until its time for your baby to live outside full time.
  • You are on the right track by covering the screen on the coop. They need a visual barrier. A 4" high barrier will be plenty for this size baby and last a little while, but still leave plenty of screen open for light and airflow.
  • When the tortoise is running loose and going all over, it is in a panic. It is in unfamiliar territory and it feels very exposed to predators. I wouldn't do that.That is why it runs around frantically like that. Keep the tortoise in its safe enclosure, where it is comfortable and protected.
  • You may need to change or add lighting indoors. What are you using now?

I clean my big night boxes as needed. They get checked every night when I lock them in their boxes for the night. I have to lift every lid, count tortoises, check everything out, and then put the lid back down and latch their door shut for the night. In summer when I am soaking the tortoises twice a week and they are peeing and pooping in the soaking tub, I never have to clean the night boxes. I can go months between cleanings. In winter when they are eating fresh juicy wet weeds and grass, and staying inside the box most of the time due to cooler weather, I have to clean the boxes twice a week.
 

Kristy1970

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2018
Messages
761
Location (City and/or State)
Addis, LA
  • 2x4 is big enough for an indoor enclosure for a little baby, but they will outgrow it faster than you think if conditions are right. I like these cages the best, but they take a long time to get to you. 10-12 weeks is what they tell you. https://apcages.com/collections/terrestrial-cages. The T70 or T100 will last you a year or two until its time for your baby to live outside full time.
  • You are on the right track by covering the screen on the coop. They need a visual barrier. A 4" high barrier will be plenty for this size baby and last a little while, but still leave plenty of screen open for light and airflow.
  • When the tortoise is running loose and going all over, it is in a panic. It is in unfamiliar territory and it feels very exposed to predators. I wouldn't do that.That is why it runs around frantically like that. Keep the tortoise in its safe enclosure, where it is comfortable and protected.
  • You may need to change or add lighting indoors. What are you using now?

I clean my big night boxes as needed. They get checked every night when I lock them in their boxes for the night. I have to lift every lid, count tortoises, check everything out, and then put the lid back down and latch their door shut for the night. In summer when I am soaking the tortoises twice a week and they are peeing and pooping in the soaking tub, I never have to clean the night boxes. I can go months between cleanings. In winter when they are eating fresh juicy wet weeds and grass, and staying inside the box most of the time due to cooler weather, I have to clean the boxes twice a week.

It’s a UVB Light and also some sort of heat lamp that doesn’t give off light, don’t know what it’s called lol
 

Kristy1970

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2018
Messages
761
Location (City and/or State)
Addis, LA
  • 2x4 is big enough for an indoor enclosure for a little baby, but they will outgrow it faster than you think if conditions are right. I like these cages the best, but they take a long time to get to you. 10-12 weeks is what they tell you. https://apcages.com/collections/terrestrial-cages. The T70 or T100 will last you a year or two until its time for your baby to live outside full time.
  • You are on the right track by covering the screen on the coop. They need a visual barrier. A 4" high barrier will be plenty for this size baby and last a little while, but still leave plenty of screen open for light and airflow.
  • When the tortoise is running loose and going all over, it is in a panic. It is in unfamiliar territory and it feels very exposed to predators. I wouldn't do that.That is why it runs around frantically like that. Keep the tortoise in its safe enclosure, where it is comfortable and protected.
  • You may need to change or add lighting indoors. What are you using now?

I clean my big night boxes as needed. They get checked every night when I lock them in their boxes for the night. I have to lift every lid, count tortoises, check everything out, and then put the lid back down and latch their door shut for the night. In summer when I am soaking the tortoises twice a week and they are peeing and pooping in the soaking tub, I never have to clean the night boxes. I can go months between cleanings. In winter when they are eating fresh juicy wet weeds and grass, and staying inside the box most of the time due to cooler weather, I have to clean the boxes twice a week.

Is the chicken coup ok for outside? Of course I’ll add visual barriers and make it bigger. Do they like trails to explore but with barrier walls and wire covered to protect from animals while she is little?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,953
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
It’s a UVB Light and also some sort of heat lamp that doesn’t give off light, don’t know what it’s called lol
What type of UV light? The cfl type sometimes hurt their eyes, so they try to avoid them, which means they tuck into a corner or hide and don't move around much.

You need a heating and lighting update. You are missing a basking lamp and you might need more light and some sort of night heat, unless the whole room is heated to 80 all night long.

There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt floods from the hardware store. I run them on a timer and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them.
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day ad night for tropical species, like sulcata.
  3. Light. I use florescent tubes for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most tubes at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type you get will depend on mounting height.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
57,953
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Is the chicken coup ok for outside? Of course I’ll add visual barriers and make it bigger. Do they like trails to explore but with barrier walls and wire covered to protect from animals while she is little?
I don't know if they "like" to explore, but if you give the tortoise more space, it will walk around in it.
 

Kristy1970

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2018
Messages
761
Location (City and/or State)
Addis, LA
I don't know if they "like" to explore, but if you give the tortoise more space, it will walk around in it.

She grazes on every weed, spits out some and then will chill out and eat for about 5 minutes in a big patch of weeds that she likes.. I guess she feels safe because the weeds are like a barrier, she doesn’t run all over.
 

Big Charlie

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
2,782
Location (City and/or State)
California
  • 2x4 is big enough for an indoor enclosure for a little baby, but they will outgrow it faster than you think if conditions are right. I like these cages the best, but they take a long time to get to you. 10-12 weeks is what they tell you. https://apcages.com/collections/terrestrial-cages. The T70 or T100 will last you a year or two until its time for your baby to live outside full time.
  • You are on the right track by covering the screen on the coop. They need a visual barrier. A 4" high barrier will be plenty for this size baby and last a little while, but still leave plenty of screen open for light and airflow.
  • When the tortoise is running loose and going all over, it is in a panic. It is in unfamiliar territory and it feels very exposed to predators. I wouldn't do that.That is why it runs around frantically like that. Keep the tortoise in its safe enclosure, where it is comfortable and protected.
  • You may need to change or add lighting indoors. What are you using now?
I clean my big night boxes as needed. They get checked every night when I lock them in their boxes for the night. I have to lift every lid, count tortoises, check everything out, and then put the lid back down and latch their door shut for the night. In summer when I am soaking the tortoises twice a week and they are peeing and pooping in the soaking tub, I never have to clean the night boxes. I can go months between cleanings. In winter when they are eating fresh juicy wet weeds and grass, and staying inside the box most of the time due to cooler weather, I have to clean the boxes twice a week.
I have to clean Charlie's nearly every day. He almost always leaves large piles every day during the winter. When we go away for a weekend, it doesn't get cleaned out and I guess it doesn't bother him, but it bothers me. During the summer, he rarely uses his nightbox so I don't have to clean but then there are more poops all over the lawn.
 

NorCal tortoise guy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
Messages
1,154
Location (City and/or State)
Northern California
I have to clean Charlie's nearly every day. He almost always leaves large piles every day during the winter. When we go away for a weekend, it doesn't get cleaned out and I guess it doesn't bother him, but it bothers me. During the summer, he rarely uses his nightbox so I don't have to clean but then there are more poops all over the lawn.

I have about the same experience. Much more cleaning in the winter, but as you said it doesn't bother them if I need to skip a few days. I guess nobody cleans out their burrows in the wild right?
 

Johnkoch

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2016
Messages
59
Location (City and/or State)
Frisco, Texas
This is a matter of much debate and I'm sure everyone will have their own opinions. Here are mine with some explanation:
I have tried all sorts of things under lots of tortoises in night boxes over many years. I still have not found a one-size-fits-all solution. I have preferences, but I'm continually trying new ideas, and I'm open to suggestions. On some aspects of tortoise care, I am pretty well set on what I think is the way to go. Like soaking hatchlings every day. No ifs, ands, or buts about that one for me. On what to use for the bottom of a night box? I'm still up in the air and willing to learn and be taught. I have found solutions that work for me by much trial and error, but I'm open to new ideas too.

Sulcatas are very powerful, very heavy animals. Any sort of brushed on type of paint, epoxy or resin will not hold up. I'm using Pond Shield for my newest star tortoise boxes, but they are relatively small and light weight tortoises and I'm using 3" of orchid bark between them and the coating. I don't think pond shield would stand up to the abuse dished out by a sulcata. I've seen people use linoleum or tiles, and that seems like it could work for smaller, less destructive species, but I think a large sulcata would tear that up. I like the horse mat idea, but I don't like the idea of poopy tortoise muddy pee water getting under it and fermenting, and those things are heavy and difficult to manage for lifting and cleaning. I'm also concerned about any sort of fumes or residues from any kind of paint or coating.

The best solution I have found for large sulcatas is a thin layer of dirt and a bunch of grass hay on top of plain untreated plywood. The dirt and hay absorb everything and make clean up pretty easy. I have four adults that have been living this way for years, and the bottom of their enclosure is still in good shape. In the future, if it ever rots or gets too rough, it will be easy to slap a plywood patch right on top of the affected area, and I'll be good to go for several more years. If I was concerned about it, I could pre-install a patch in any new box, and then just replace it every year or two, and the original floor underneath would last forever. But I'm not concerned about it because it doesn't seem to be a problem. I just scrape out the muddy, poopy dirt and hay with a flat headed shovel and toss it in a wheelbarrow. Then I put in fresh dry dirt and a couple flakes of fresh grass hay, and they are good to go.
Thank you Tom for giving your thoughts and reasons!! I was a bit nervous myself about using anything that would produce fumes. When I'm finished I will post pictures to get feedback on things that I may have overlooked.
 

Johnkoch

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2016
Messages
59
Location (City and/or State)
Frisco, Texas
When I build my last night box I ended up covering the floor with stall mats made for horses. It has worked well for me to this point. In the past I have also done bare plywood and that has also worked well. I also did dirt floors one time but was not at all happy with that.
Thank you for you ideas and the different ways of handling this!!!!
 

Johnkoch

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2016
Messages
59
Location (City and/or State)
Frisco, Texas
Currently building a 4x4x2 night box based on the "another night box" thread. I used two coats of drylok extreme, followed by two coats of Kennel Seal. He hasn't moved in yet but so far it seems like it will be easy to clean
Thank you for your input!!!
 

jrh

Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Messages
42
Location (City and/or State)
St Louis Metro
http://products.sunshinesupply.com/...for-testing-purposes-epro-ecoline-r-membrane? I'm trying this product, I don't have the sulcata yet but will be getting a large male... I can tell you from applying it that is has a tenacious bond after it drys. i did a sample on a piece of plywood and I tried to separate it from the plywood and you have to destroy the plywood to get it to remove... only time will tell but I hope it will have good longevity... I did this instead of horse stall mats... It is stocked at commercial construction supply stores...
 

New Posts

Top