Outdoor Russian Enclosure Question

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jjsull33

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Hello, I am trying to make an outdoor enclosure for my 2 Russians so that they can spend the summer in a nice big outdoor area and I had a question.
I found a fencing roll that is 6ft tall and 8 ft long, if I were to cut it in 1/2 the long way so that I have 2 3ft x 8ft fences and then bury them in the ground 2ft so only 1ft is sticking out of the ground do you think this would be a good enough wall for 2 russians? Also how deep will they dig? should I put a piece of wood or something across the bottom so they can't dig out?

I am not quite sure on the size of the cage yet, I am still finding the places in my back yard that get the best sunlight.

And this is a link to the fencing I was talking about, It may not even be a real option but I want to make this enclosure as cheap as I can while maintaining a good quality.
http://www.homedepot.com/Lumber-Com...oreId=10051&superSkuId=202938943#.USKoNKU3sn0
 

ascott

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Russians are like the spiderman of the tortoise world...they can scale a fence several feet tall...so the trick is to cap the top of the fencing...either by letting it curve back over towards the enclosure or attach something that makes a ledge around the entire top perimeter---I don't think that they can get completely vertical and upside down (like a fly on a ceiling...lol)...

Also, they can dig down a foot or more...now this does not mean that this is what they will do, but they certainly can...
 

Team Gomberg

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The walls on my outdoor Russian enclosure are 12 inch high. Then there is a 4 inch lip along the top. As long has you also use a lip, that height is fine.


I've read a tip that you can line the perimeter of the enclosure (on the Russians side of the fence) with pavers or pathway stones to prevent them digging under the fence. Haven't tried it personally but i plan to.
 

MikeCow1

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Is this like chain link fencing? IMO, with Russians if they can see through a fence they'll spend most of their time trying to get out. Better off with solid fencing. And, like has been said, they are excellent climbers
 

jjsull33

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MikeCow1 said:
Is this like chain link fencing? IMO, with Russians if they can see through a fence they'll spend most of their time trying to get out. Better off with solid fencing. And, like has been said, they are excellent climbers

It is not chain link, it is more bamboo rods strapped together tightly, so you can see between it but no more than a few millimeters between each rod.
 

lynnedit

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I would be concerned that the underground portion would deteriorate buried in soil? And Heather is right, you do want to cap the edge to prevent them shimmying out (yes, they are amazing), not sure how you would do it with that.

There are a couple of ways to prevent them from digging out.
The pavers (8"x16") in a row along the inside edge have worked well for me (Yvonne's idea).
One another side I pounded rebar down 12", every 4". That was tedious.
Others dig a trench and bury garden fencing and back fill with gravel to hold it in place, then cover with soil and build the enclosure on top of it.
Or, you build a 'raised bed, ~2 feet high. Put plastic garden fencing on the bottom and back fill with soil up 12" or so.

Generally if you go down about 12" with a barrier, that should be OK. Then 12-18" above ground with edging, and a cap or add a lid.
 

jjsull33

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lynnedit said:
I would be concerned that the underground portion would deteriorate buried in soil? And Heather is right, you do want to cap the edge to prevent them shimmying out (yes, they are amazing), not sure how you would do it with that.

There are a couple of ways to prevent them from digging out.
The pavers (8"x16") in a row along the inside edge have worked well for me (Yvonne's idea).
One another side I pounded rebar down 12", every 4". That was tedious.
Others dig a trench and bury garden fencing and back fill with gravel to hold it in place, then cover with soil and build the enclosure on top of it.
Or, you build a 'raised bed, ~2 feet high. Put plastic garden fencing on the bottom and back fill with soil up 12" or so.

Generally if you go down about 12" with a barrier, that should be OK. Then 12-18" above ground with edging, and a cap or add a lid.

Is there a specific size mesh I should look for when getting the plastic garden fencing? I like the idea of a raised bed so I will most likely do that.

When choosing a place to put the enclosure will it be ok if it only gets direct sunlight for 1/2 the day? my backyard gets sun from dawn until around noon-1pm then the house itself is in the way. During the summer months, June, July and August the temps outside will be fine but I am not sure about the sunlight, will that be enough?
 

lynnedit

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jjsull33

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Also, where is a good place to get soil for the cage. If I am making it as large as I can I will need 150 cubic feet or more of soil to fill it up correctly, where would be a cheap place to get it? or specific brands I should be looking at, I know it needs to be organic and not have any of the moisture beads or things like that in it.
 

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You can buy regular TOP SOIL from Home Depot/ Lowe's/ Walmart etc. I think the 2cu ft bag is about $2 when you get the "no name brand".

OR

In my area, Craigslist always has ads advertising "free dirt". Usually from people digging out for swimming pools or re landscaping. You can ask if the dirt had fertlizers/ pesticides used on it. Many people may be against this option and its risks but it is an option for a lot of dirt, for free.


jjsull33 said:
Is Douglas Fir Lumber ok to use? or will it rot/mold?

It's a good idea to treat whatever wood you choose to use. I have plywood and 2x4's for my Russian pen. I painted it with Exterior paint specifically for painting wood that will be exposed to the elements. As long as you seal, paint or treat the wood properly it should last a while without molding or rotting.

*I live in So Cal with a different climate than you. You will need to find the correct way to treat wood for your climate. Maybe with the cold and snow it'll be more specific than it is for me... ???
 

Turtulas-Len

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Here is a pic of a 6ftx12ft enclosure I built using vinyl siding for my first russian, the pieces on the bottom are soffet material which have a bunch of little holes in it so if you cover it with dirt, plant roots can grow through the holes.The top cap is aluminum flashing. After it was completed it worked out real nice,and the elements wont deteriorate it.Hope this helps you with ideas on the one you build.
 

jjsull33

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Thanks for all the ideas and answers, however now it looks more like I will be getting some kiddie pools for them. One of my room mates pointed out that since we rent the property it probably isn't the best idea to spend a ton of money on wood and time building a structure that I can't take with me next time we end up moving. So for now I will get them some Kiddie pools and plant in there instead of building one. The pool I was looking at is 8ft diameter and 18inches deep, If i put in 8 inches of soil with a few small holes cut around the side for draining would this be enough for a single full grown russian? Also does anyone have any suggestions on how to secure the top so neighborhood cats cannot get in?
 

lynnedit

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That will work fine. The important thing is to get your tortoise outside when you can.
I have seen examples where the person made a frame (six sided? eight sided?) with mesh on it.
Another person got two kiddie pools; cut the bottom out of one, flipped it over on top of the other and zip tied 1" mesh to it. chicken wire or the plastic fencing would work; you want the holes big enough to let the sun in.
you can also scout Craigslist for wire remnants people are selling.
 

junebugsmom

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You might consider some poultry netting you can get at home depot for the top. Russians are escape artists (I've had to hunt mine down and reinforce her pen several times) and you want to be sure predators can't get in.
 
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