Outdoor enclosure ideas for second story patio

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ChiKat

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My 4-year old Russian currently lives outside in an 8x2 enclosure. The substrate is just the dirt ground, and he doesn’t burrow.
We’re moving to the upper unit of a house, near the beach. There is a large second story patio with plenty of room for an enclosure, but I need help brainstorming enclosure ideas. The enclosure would probably need a bottom since it’s on the second story, but then I don’t know what to do when it rains. And what substrate would work in this situation?
I guess I would have to line and waterproof the enclosure too.
Nelson lived in an indoor wooden enclosure when he was younger, but I didn’t have to worry about rain and draining anything.
I would love some ideas!
 

Ferretinmyshoes

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There are lots of options for this kind of habitat! Easiest ones: A kiddie pool with some holes poked through the bottom or along the side toward the bottom is a great one because it's a good size and has good walls too high for smaller torts to climb. Depending on how big he is even a large under-the-bed rubbermaid type of container would work. I use some of those for my little guys on my balcony patio. And for either of those options I use a mix of organic soil and cypress mulch and plant real plants so it grows cover plant and enrichment. You can get more creative and build a habitat - something like wooden sides with liner and then plant it similarly with substrate. I've seen some where people bought patio storage benches and outfitted them for their chelonians.

Here's one of my rubbermaid containers for baby ornate box turtles - it's about 5 feet long and it has holes drilled through the sides just below the top of the substrate layer so if it rains the box doesn't flood but it also waters the plants well. It's very portable so when weather gets too cold I can just move it indoors.
 

wellington

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Hey ChiKat, Chicago misses you. You didn't miss a thing this summer, the weather hasn't been that great. Very hot and humid right into cold, yuck. Hope your enjoying Cali. Most any indoor habitat can be converted to outdoor/patio. The main thing, if you don't want to move it indoors when it rains, is to put drainage holes. You could also cover half of it so there is more room for roaming during rain and then only have to worry about half getting wet. Unless its a windy rain storm.:)
 

ChiKat

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I will probably have to put in drainage holes. How do I do that? And should I raise it off the ground? I don't want to panic every time it rains and I'm not home. I was just worried that if I use soil as a substrate, it would cause a muddy mess when it rains...maybe a layer of rocks and then top soil? I really need someone to tell me exactly what to do. :p My boyfriend is pretty handy and can probably build whatever is necessary. (Although when I suggested building it bigger than the current 8x2 he looked at me like I was crazy...)
I would love to put more plants in it too.

Wellington- I was in Chicago over the weekend for my brother's wedding. The only thing I really miss about IL is my family and friends! (And the only thing I don't like about CA is the fleas...my poor dogs...but that's another story!)

Ferretinmyshoes- I used a kiddie pool for his outdoor enclosure when he was younger, and it worked great! He's just too big now. Needs a lot more space to roam, and he could probably climb out if he really wanted to. I also use an under bed container for him to sleep in at night when it's too cold out. Great minds think alike!
 

lynnedit

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What about a raised bed set up? Use quality landscape fabric or raised bed liners, then a couple inches of gravel before you add your soil?
 

Beck

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To put neat and pretty drainage holes in a plastic tub, I use a $5 soldering iron (walmart) and melt the holes. If needed, I'll then line with window screen to keep substrate from falling through.

Otherwise I hear people take box cutters or scissors to them.

Something as simple as cinder blocks can be used to elevate. But I'm sure others have prettier ideas.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using TortForum mobile app
 

ChiKat

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Love the window screen idea, Beck!
And Lynne, I think I'll definitely have to go with a raised bed. Thanks for the gravel suggestion!
You guys are the best!
 

ChiKat

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I'm a little confused about how a raised bed (aka wooden frame on ground?) would work with drainage, and I was thinking I would need to actually raise it off the ground like a table. But you're saying use landscape fabric or raised bed liners to line it, then gravel, then soil? I guess I'm concerned about it sitting directly on the concrete. Would the landscape fabric protect the concrete underneath the enclosure?
Maybe even raise it and put some sort of tray underneath to catch the drainage, so that it doesn't damage the floor underneath?


The patio is enclosed with solid walls, not like a balcony or deck, so anything that runs off would literally sit in a puddle on the concrete.
 

lynnedit

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Oh. Do people keep pots of flowers, etc., on their patios?
If so, you should be able to have a tortoise enclosure.

If you used a raised bed/table idea, you could still do the liner/gravel/soil. (You should have drainage holes in it, if it will potentially get rained on).
Just have it up on 4"x4" legs and use trays (cement mixing tubs in a row?), or a tarp, underneath, to catch water.
 

Millerlite

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I once built a tortoise table type enclosure for my tortoises and it was on a balcony of an apartment... Made it 5feet by 2.5feet and lined the thing with tarp. I actually put wedges in the bottom on both sides so water would drain toward the middle. Then lined it and in the middle drilled two holes, under the table i had a small bucket that caught the water. Put a layer if gravel then soil peat moss mix. I added enough to make it about 7-8 inches deep in the whole box. Added 2 gallons of water mixed and made it moist all the way through. I planted plants into the enclosure and they grew rather well. Nice big water dish. The drain worked but it actually took awhile for anything to actually drain. And if you don't over water it rarely drains anything. I used misters to keep the plants watered and tortoises happy
 

ChiKat

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Thanks for the suggestions! Millerlite- love the wedge idea! You gave me some great ideas. What kind of wood did you use? Did you seal it?
I will definitely be using hardware cloth to keep out birds and other animals. I use plastic hardware cloth now.
 
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