Outdoor enclousure

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laura121103

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Hi

I have had my dwarf hermann since last September (I bought him when he was one) so he has always lived inside. I would like to start thinking about setting up an outdoor enclousure for him so wanted some advice.

What do I need to do?

I live in England so our spring/summer doesn't tend to be very hot and at night it will be quite cold. Is it OK for Tully to stay outside all the time when the weather hots up or should I look to bring him in at night?

How warm should it be before I put him outside?

Will it be OK for him to just eat grass or should I be providing other things for him to eat as well?

Any advice would be appreciated

Laura
 

HermanniChris

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A general rule of thumb would be to not let your animal stay solely outside until it has reached about 4" SCL. However, exposure to natural grazing and sunlight is recommended for tortoises of any age providing they are protected from predators/eliments and are supervised.

T. hermanni hermanni can be a bit more delicate than their eastern cousins so I would not introduce the little one to the outdoors until it is reaching about 75-80F during the day. It may be necessary to bring him/her in at night since it is still a small tortoise. Adults can handle these temperature fluctuations better and do a better job at escaping weather conditions. Be sure the pen is set up in a well drained/sun-lit area and provide safe plants, grasses and shrubs. Logs and rocks for climbing and digging under are a great addition but most of all, if you do eventually plan to leave it outside most of the time, be sure that it has an area to completely dry off if harsh rains hit. Again, adults can withstand much more but because this animal is still young, it's better to be safe than sorry.

You should offer him/her more than just grass. Any of the recommened foods for T. hermanni should be fed to the tortoise on a regular basis. Your tortoise most likely will eat some grass but it should be subjected to more of a variety.

You can see some of my outdoor units in the photo galleries of my website:
www.gardenstatetortoise.com
and:
http://community.webshots.com/user/loon1103

Hope this helps
-Chris





laura121103 said:
Hi

I have had my dwarf hermann since last September (I bought him when he was one) so he has always lived inside. I would like to start thinking about setting up an outdoor enclousure for him so wanted some advice.

What do I need to do?

I live in England so our spring/summer doesn't tend to be very hot and at night it will be quite cold. Is it OK for Tully to stay outside all the time when the weather hots up or should I look to bring him in at night?

How warm should it be before I put him outside?

Will it be OK for him to just eat grass or should I be providing other things for him to eat as well?

Any advice would be appreciated

Laura
 

Ozric

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Hi Laura, a coldframe is a really useful item if you want to keep hermanns outside in the UK. This gets warmer quicker when the sun comes out and will reach a higher temp as well. The coldframe should have an exit into a secure outdoor enclosure with protection from birds and cats etc. Shade and hiding places should be offered both inside and outside the coldframe.

If you have access to electrics outside then you may be able to keep your hermann in a wooden house inside the coldframe overnight, for instance if you use a ceramic heat emitter on a thermostat to keep the chill off the air. To begin with at least I would suggest you bring the tortoise indoors at night, but it can be done if suitable precautions are taken. This is really only during the warmer months even then, say June, July, August.

I find my Hermanns don't eat grass much at all. Keeping them on turf isn't good anyway, as it easily gets cold and damp. Much of the ground in my outside enclosure is gravel laid over a weedblock fabric. Some of the ground is a light soil that I brought into the garden, and I had to remove much of my soil first and put in a thick layer of crushed stone, then lay light soil onto this. We need to avoid the cold and wet combination.

Lots of us in the UK do maintain our Hermanns outside during the 'warmer' months of the year, but I think we all have facilities like coldframes or greenhouses for them. Especially with the younger animals that can loose their heat very quickly. An easy and cheap way to let your tortoise have a bit of time in the outdoors is to get a rabbit cage and take this outside on a warm day.

Although it isn't easy to do it is very rewarding to get your Hermanns outside. I just love watching them behave naturally, seeking out a warm spot and looking for food.

There is a very wide range of food plants we can grow in our gardens in the UK that are suitable for Hermanns. A very short list of some that I find grow easily:
dandelion
bugle
cars ear
clover
bitter cress
large sedum
Lady's smock
Geraniums
plantain
campanulas
malvas
lamiums
violas / pansies
fox and cubs
vetches
sow thistle

(These are the common English names for these plants and might not be right for international members of the forum).

Jonathan
 
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