Our new Redfooted raised enclosure with a flushing toilet... yep thats right

neverwouldof

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So just wanted to share the project we just completed for our 4 year old Redfoot. He has been inside and has reached a size where the indoor looked a bit cramped. the main objective was to create an outdoorish enclosure that was off the ground and was easy to maintenance for my 14 year old daughter. We had a spot that was to be used for an outdoor kitchen but hadn't been put to use yet. Its at the very back of the screened and covered lanai so it gets early sun that turns to shade. So I went with 4 foot by 8 foot design that has plumbing and electric. I made the concrete water dish in the photo from a pond overflow that I bought at Lowes and just modified the edges to get the right size and plumbed a shower drain into the bottom of it. I used a 2" to 1.5" reduction to a gate valve then straight into the plumbed drain of the house. So with the gate valve we can easily empty and wash out then close the gate and fill up the dish to the desired level. I used the 1.5" of gravel and the lattice to help with the reduction of moisture sitting on the wood when watering plants etc. I used a mixture of 50% sand and 50% organic soil which should still be good enough for the plants that go in there. I'll still need to add secondary forms of Lighting and Heat especially for the winter so that will be in the works for the next week or two before evening temps start dropping below 70 in Florida. If you folks have any good ideas for Lighting and Heat that you think would work for the design let me know in the comments below please!

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Also forgot to take pictures of the making of the plumbed water dish! So I used this to make a mold for Home Depot or Lowes

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ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
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Hello Fellow Floridian.
It's great to see someone else taking advantage of our warm days and nights and our "free" humidity.
I like that drain!
For years I used free formed cement pools that I swept out with a broom. I always said that if I ever did that again, I'd do a drain and probably at least a pea gravel drain field underneath it.
You will probably need to make a larger apron around your pool with flat stones or slate to cut down on the substrate that'll get tracked in.
 

Tom

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So just wanted to share the project we just completed for our 4 year old Redfoot. He has been inside and has reached a size where the indoor looked a bit cramped. the main objective was to create an outdoorish enclosure that was off the ground and was easy to maintenance for my 14 year old daughter. We had a spot that was to be used for an outdoor kitchen but hadn't been put to use yet. Its at the very back of the screened and covered lanai so it gets early sun that turns to shade. So I went with 4 foot by 8 foot design that has plumbing and electric. I made the concrete water dish in the photo from a pond overflow that I bought at Lowes and just modified the edges to get the right size and plumbed a shower drain into the bottom of it. I used a 2" to 1.5" reduction to a gate valve then straight into the plumbed drain of the house. So with the gate valve we can easily empty and wash out then close the gate and fill up the dish to the desired level. I used the 1.5" of gravel and the lattice to help with the reduction of moisture sitting on the wood when watering plants etc. I used a mixture of 50% sand and 50% organic soil which should still be good enough for the plants that go in there. I'll still need to add secondary forms of Lighting and Heat especially for the winter so that will be in the works for the next week or two before evening temps start dropping below 70 in Florida. If you folks have any good ideas for Lighting and Heat that you think would work for the design let me know in the comments below please!
This is cool but you have some MAJOR substrate issues that could lead to the death of your tortoise. Sand, soil, and gravel should all never be used for tortoise substrate. Its all over the internet and its all wrong. Been all wrong for decades, but most people don't even know it.

Further, the soil you chose has bits of perlite in it. This will be eaten and it will slowly kill your tortoise.

I know this is a bummer after all your hard work, but better you hear it now before it does harm to your tortoise, right?

More here:
 

wellington

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I also hate to disappoint, but a 4x8 is not big enough for a RF unless it's a young one. An adult will need a lot more room, like a large yard or large room size enclosure.
It looks nice though.
 

neverwouldof

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I also hate to disappoint, but a 4x8 is not big enough for a RF unless it's a young one. An adult will need a lot more room, like a large yard or large room size enclosure.
It looks nice though.
He is about 6" long shell to shell so it will be for the next few years
 

neverwouldof

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This is cool but you have some MAJOR substrate issues that could lead to the death of your tortoise. Sand, soil, and gravel should all never be used for tortoise substrate. Its all over the internet and its all wrong. Been all wrong for decades, but most people don't even know it.

Further, the soil you chose has bits of perlite in it. This will be eaten and it will slowly kill your tortoise.

I know this is a bummer after all your hard work, but better you hear it now before it does harm to your tortoise, right?

More here:

The research I did was extensive especially within the Florida Tortoise guys and gals and many online websites that have been researching habitats on many types of Tortoises. When you say "Sand, soil, and gravel should all never be used for tortoise substrate". That is literally what their natural habitat is in south america and would also be the same if a pin is made in the yard in Florida. I will keep an eye on him eating the perlite and if it becomes an issue then the kids will start picking it all out. But even my searches on that came back with many saying no issues unless they just eat that in volume so will have to keep an eye out on behavior. If you have some great links to researches that show why the sand and soil base is bad I would like to learn more about it. The gravel is only on bottom and its covered by barrier and the white lattice for moving moisture.
 

neverwouldof

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Hello Fellow Floridian.
It's great to see someone else taking advantage of our warm days and nights and our "free" humidity.
I like that drain!
For years I used free formed cement pools that I swept out with a broom. I always said that if I ever did that again, I'd do a drain and probably at least a pea gravel drain field underneath it.
You will probably need to make a larger apron around your pool with flat stones or slate to cut down on the substrate that'll get tracked in.
ya I will see what happens when he gets in there. It is about an inch high hump on the edges hard to pick up in the photo but if he does drag it in then I'll do exactly what you suggest to reduce it as I don't need that in my pipes! I'm going to try to plant some ornamental grass on the edges but will see if that takes.
 

ZEROPILOT

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ya I will see what happens when he gets in there. It is about an inch high hump on the edges hard to pick up in the photo but if he does drag it in then I'll do exactly what you suggest to reduce it as I don't need that in my pipes! I'm going to try to plant some ornamental grass on the edges but will see if that takes.
Since the space inside that enclosure is limited, I can guarantee that your Redfoot will do laps around the parameters/walls daily. Promptly trampling anything you attempt to plant.
Are you able to set up an enclosure outdoors in the yard to be used at least when the weather is perfect?
If so. I'd go with an 8x8' minimum.
Each of my currently four RF live outdoors.
3 of them are about the age of yours. But are probably larger.
 

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neverwouldof

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Since the space inside that enclosure is limited, I can guarantee that your Redfoot will do laps around the parameters/walls daily. Promptly trampling anything you attempt to plant.
Are you able to set up an enclosure outdoors in the yard to be used at least when the weather is perfect?
If so. I'd go with an 8x8' minimum.
Each of my currently four RF live outdoors.
3 of them are about the age of yours. But are probably larger.
Ya he is about the length of my cell phone and is about 3 years old, I thought he/she was older. But yes the goal will be to be outside when he’s a little bigger. We have about 1/2 an acre so some spots could be enclosed in. What kind a heaters do you use?
 

ZEROPILOT

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Ya he is about the length of my cell phone and is about 3 years old, I thought he/she was older. But yes the goal will be to be outside when he’s a little bigger. We have about 1/2 an acre so some spots could be enclosed in. What kind a heaters do you use?
Are you in SOUTH Florida?
Where I am, I can get by with a single CHE suspended inside my night houses on all but the coldest nights. Anything below about 52° and I carry them inside my house into my SUN ROOM. With a space heater. (Just over night)
If you live in the cooler counties, you may need more heat.
Luckily, your RF is small. So you're going to have options.
 

neverwouldof

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Are you in SOUTH Florida?
Where I am, I can get by with a single CHE suspended inside my night houses on all but the coldest nights. Anything below about 52° and I carry them inside my house into my SUN ROOM. With a space heater. (Just over night)
If you live in the cooler counties, you may need more heat.
Luckily, your RF is small. So you're going to have options.
Are you in SOUTH Florida?
Where I am, I can get by with a single CHE suspended inside my night houses on all but the coldest nights. Anything below about 52° and I carry them inside my house into my SUN ROOM. With a space heater. (Just over night)
If you live in the cooler counties, you may need more heat.
Luckily, your RF is small. So you're going to have options.
Ya I’m up in Jacksonville FL area. So we do get to freezing a few nights a year. I’d like to find a nice commercial style with a thermostat. I could also always heat it from the bottom and enclose underneath with some insulated foam board.
 

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
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Search some of @Tom Threads about insulated night boxes.
He covers the boxes. The insulation and different types of heaters and thermostats.

I simply use timers and CHE. And they're only in use for maybe 15 days each winter. Maybe 20.
My night houses are also not insulated. They have closing lids and rubber flap entrances to keep out the draft.
Some years. We seem to skip winter and go right into Spring after Fall.
 

Tom

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The research I did was extensive especially within the Florida Tortoise guys and gals and many online websites that have been researching habitats on many types of Tortoises. When you say "Sand, soil, and gravel should all never be used for tortoise substrate". That is literally what their natural habitat is in south america and would also be the same if a pin is made in the yard in Florida. I will keep an eye on him eating the perlite and if it becomes an issue then the kids will start picking it all out. But even my searches on that came back with many saying no issues unless they just eat that in volume so will have to keep an eye out on behavior. If you have some great links to researches that show why the sand and soil base is bad I would like to learn more about it. The gravel is only on bottom and its covered by barrier and the white lattice for moving moisture.
Most of the tortoise care info out in the world is wrong. "Research" will lead you to all this same wrong info repeated over and over.

I'm trying to save you and your kids from having to learn this the hard way. Once they eat these things, and the tortoise will, it is too late. Your other sources are wrong, and your tortoise will suffer the consequences if you choose to ignore what I am telling you.

Your little enclosure is not the wild, and this is not a wild tortoise. 300-1000 babies die in the wild for every one that survives to adulthood. I don't think emulating the wild is the way to go. Instead, I prefer to do what works best in our captive conditions, and I have learned what works best over 30 years of trial and error and experimentation. You can learn from the errors of others. Mine included. You don't have to make the same errors to learn not to do these things. Sand kills tortoises. Gravel and little pebbles kill tortoises. Perlite kills tortoises. Soil is a big gamble and there is no way to know what is in it. Your tortoise and your situation is not special or different. Your tortoise is not immune to these things.

There. I have led you to water. Its up to you if you want to drink or not.

This thread will explain much of what I am telling you here in more detail:
 

neverwouldof

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Removed all the soil that had the Perlite in it which wasn't fun but has been replaced with some Top Soil and Peatmoss. Still need to finish his hide in the corner and some heat sources and lighting. I wish I could find a good heating idea that would monitor temp in the hide and keep at a minimum of 80 in the Winter months! Anyone have suggestions?
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Tom

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Removed all the soil that had the Perlite in it which wasn't fun but has been replaced with some Top Soil and Peatmoss. Still need to finish his hide in the corner and some heat sources and lighting. I wish I could find a good heating idea that would monitor temp in the hide and keep at a minimum of 80 in the Winter months! Anyone have suggestions?
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Topsoil is made from composted yard waste. There is no way to know what is is in it. Could be azaleas, oleander, recently sprayed grass clippings... Could be anything. There are also chunks of glass, plastic, nails, and whatever else falls into the mix. In addition, they add all sorts of weird stuff in to it to get a good consistency for plants roots to grow in. They don't intend for small animals to be living on it.

The dirt-like peat moss will burn their plastrons. Red foot tortoises are probably the most susceptible to this, and I've seen it in other species that are very resistant to shell rot. Neither soil nor peat moss should be used as tortoise substrate. Orchid bark is best for RFs, and cypress or coco coir will work too.

Its good that you removed the perlite, but what you've replaced it with isn't safe either. I'm not trying to bum you out or argue with you. I'm trying to help you avoid problems with your tortoise that are going to do permanent damage and potentially cost you hundreds of dollars in vet bills. Other people have been down this road before. We know what the results will be. You don't have to learn the hard way.

For the night box temperature, a thermostat connected to a radiant heat panel on the ceiling will probably be enough for you for most of every year. It helps if the box is insulated, and you'll need to close up the door at night, both to keep the heat in and to keep the nocturnal pests and predators out. Thermostats can be found on Amazon for $20-30 and put the probe down low inside the box, but out of tortoise reach, and away from the heat source.

You can see this demonstrated here:
 

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