Single Tortoise Night Box

Snubeazy

New Member
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Riverside
1. Get a regular Inkbird. Set it, check it once in a while, and let it do its work. 80 in spring and fall when we have warm days, 86 in winter, 70 when we have those 100+ days all summer long, or let him burrow in summer and just unplug the box.

2. Clear vinyl freezer door flaps. 8 inches wide. Over lap them about an inch. Hang them about 1/8 - 1/4 inch off the floor.

3. I show how to bring the cord in, with drip loops and all, in the first post of this thread. Make a channel to fit the cord, put the weather stripping over the cord, and the weight of the lid will hold it down. You can double up the weather stripping over this area for added security. You don't need a second cord. One cord will do it all. You can't use a CHE over larger tortoises. It will burn their carapace. If the temp in the box is warm enough, the heater won't come on. If the temp is too cool, the neater needs to come on. Weather outside is irrelevant. Keep the box warm for the tortoise, and he'll use it as needed.

4. All radiant oil heaters come with a built-in thermostat, but they don't hold a steady temp. You'll get temp swings of 15-20 degrees all night. Try it without the tortoise in there. Use the Inkbird type of thermostat to control it. You can run more than one thermostat in series for extra insurance in case one sticks on. What I do is set my Inkbird type thermostat with the built-in one turned all the way up. Once temps stabilize over a couple of days, I go in and turn the built-in thermostat down until it clicks off, and then turn it back up a little bit past where it turns back on, and then mark that spot on the dial and heater with a sharpie. If my Inkbird type malfunctions, the built in will eventually cut the heater off long before reaching lethal levels. Redundant safety.

Yes. Leave the heater to do its job 24/7. Only shut it off in summer if the tortoise is using a burrow at night instead of its box. The door flaps hold heat in just fine.

5. Dirt consumption? No. No they don't. None of my sulcatas, or any other species, eat dirt. Some tortoises will sometimes eat rocks or pebbles if they are fed the wrong foods, like grocery store produce with no amendments. MinerAll can help reduce this, but better to correct the diet too. KK is a terrible place to get tortoise advice. He means well, but has little idea about what he's doing. He learned from the same wrong sources that everyone else learns from.

1) The thermostat I use currently works fine as a regular thermostat and I've used those temp guidelines since installing (thanks)...I was commenting on the secondary app feature of being able to control it when away from home. I'm not able to utilize that side of my thermostat with my current wi-fi/router setup......

4) I previously shared my doubts about being able to setup a thermostat + heater system since it seemed complicated to me at first and you let me know that it's pretty straight forward once you have the devices in front of you; I guess I sorta blindly followed your guide on setting up my thermostat/radiator heater system without fully understanding the components and their features/functions. I have a simple heater with an on/off switch & a numberless dial. These questions and concerns didn't come up until some time after using the system. The dial IS the built in thermostat that you explain... GOTCHA. Sharpie it is.

Do you latch lock your torts in from time to time?

5) I don't mean directly or intentionally ingesting dirt, I meant from regular feeding activities where the occasional weed or grass gets uprooted or grazing after a heavy rain fall where mud splats and drys on grass blades...placing cut-up foods on a hard floor or a weathered plastic tray. So, you don't really worry about supplementations regarding this? If not KK, can you steer me towards a proper YT channel?

6) I'm sure you encounter times where you have to brush dirt back to be able to fully close the draw bridge door. Have you come up with a way to prevent your torts from being able to kick dirt into the doorway?

7) I installed the freezer flaps and tubs! After installing the flaps, do you need to regularly adjust them? I noticed that the weight of the flaps doesn't always have them fly back into position and get caught up on the highest point of the draw bridge door.

--

Feel free to air me out if needed. I should have already taken care of some of these issues. Running it the way I was, did make me very vigilant on temps and his status when at home or getting confirmation from those at home when away (low temp alarm on thermostat as backup).
 

Snubeazy

New Member
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Riverside
For the 2.4Ghz Inkbird Wifi devices to work properly, they seem to need to be on a dedicated 2.4Ghz wireless network. I run two SSIDs, one for my standard network (which includes 2.4ghz and 5ghz devices) and one for 2.4Ghz devices only. The inkbird devices are connected to the 2.4Ghz only SSID.

Your ISP's hardware may not allow you to configure it that way though.
I will have to refer back to your comment and google some of these terms to get more familiar with the lingo to be able to address this. Thanks for sharing! That feature seemed so useful during the little amount of time I did get to use it.

Does manually unplugging your thermostat disconnect you from the app until you plug back in?... Do you have to manually sync up again to be able to control temps when away from home? Can you reconnect when away from home?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
64,087
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Do you latch lock your torts in from time to time?
Yes. Every night. I let them out every day, and lock them in their boxes every night. I have a female star laying right now, and I'll go check on her in an hour or so to see if she's done. If she is, I'll put her in the heated box and latch the door shut.

5) I don't mean directly or intentionally ingesting dirt, I meant from regular feeding activities where the occasional weed or grass gets uprooted or grazing after a heavy rain fall where mud splats and drys on grass blades...placing cut-up foods on a hard floor or a weathered plastic tray. So, you don't really worry about supplementations regarding this? If not KK, can you steer me towards a proper YT channel?
Ahh I see what you mean. A little incidental dirt ingestion won't hurt anything. Its unavoidable.

Unfortunately, there is no YT info for tortoises that I have ever found that is good. I've tried and tried. All of it is the same old wrong info. I have not found one exception. Wrong substrate, wrong housing, wrong soak routine, wrong lighting, etc...

6) I'm sure you encounter times where you have to brush dirt back to be able to fully close the draw bridge door. Have you come up with a way to prevent your torts from being able to kick dirt into the doorway?
Its a constant problem. I keep a little dishwashing brush over every door to brush the substrate and dirt out of the way. I mount 2x2s in some of the doorways to keep the substrate contained, but they still drag it around.

7) I installed the freezer flaps and tubs! After installing the flaps, do you need to regularly adjust them? I noticed that the weight of the flaps doesn't always have them fly back into position and get caught up on the highest point of the draw bridge door.
I mount mine so there is about 1/4 inch of clearance between the flaps and the bottom of the box. I mount mine inside the box, so they don't come into contact with the door.

I don't know what "air me out" means, but if you mean for me to berate you or insult you, that isn't going to happen. These are great questions, and you are doing fine work there. Its clear that you understand what is being said, and you are working to fine tune your enclosure and technique and make things even better for your tortoise. That is all I could ever ask for, and all I ever want from anyone.
 

vladimir

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 18, 2017
Messages
1,498
Location (City and/or State)
Pennsylvania
I will have to refer back to your comment and google some of these terms to get more familiar with the lingo to be able to address this. Thanks for sharing! That feature seemed so useful during the little amount of time I did get to use it.

Does manually unplugging your thermostat disconnect you from the app until you plug back in?... Do you have to manually sync up again to be able to control temps when away from home? Can you reconnect when away from home?

Let me know if you have more questions about configuring these for 2.4Ghz wireless networks :)

If the thermostat is unplugged, the app won't be able to connect until it is plugged in again and online. I can control it at home or away from home. If the power or internet goes out at the house, it will be unavailable remotely until power and internet is restored. At that point it will come back online and remember the settings and everything.

I mounted the door in Vlad's outside box with the hinges at the top. I use a chain to keep it open during the day. This way no dirt or debris get into the hinges while he goes in and out.
 

Wpagey

Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2021
Messages
75
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
The thin dirt layer on the floor of our 12 year old sulcata’s nightbox often gets quite wet and hard to sweep up. I’m thinking to use kitty litter on the trouble spots. Good or bad idea?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
64,087
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
The thin dirt layer on the floor of our 12 year old sulcata’s nightbox often gets quite wet and hard to sweep up. I’m thinking to use kitty litter on the trouble spots. Good or bad idea?
Very bad idea. It can cause impaction and your tortoise will likely try to eat it.

Get a flat head shovel for cleaning. Makes it super easy. Scrapes up old dried poo, wet poo, and pee soaked mud in just a few scoops, and then put in some fresh dirt with the same shovel. Takes less than a minute to do the whole box.
 

Debbie e

New Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2018
Messages
3
Location (City and/or State)
Rimrock arizona
I like my larger tortoises to live outside full time. My climate permits this year round with a little help. For people who live where it snows all winter, this type of box is still good for warmer weather, getting them out earlier in Spring, and keeping them out a bit later into fall. You'll need something else for the dead of winter. Or you can move South! :)

The top of this box is half a sheet of plywood, insulated and sealed, so 4x4 feet. The inside of the box ends up being around 40x40 inches when its all done. I use an 18x28 inch Kane heat mat on the floor, and a 21" radiant heat panel on the top. Both are controlled by the same thermostat: https://www.lllreptile.com/products/13883-zilla-1000-watt-temperature-controller
I lower the RHP so that it is within 6-8 inches of the tortoises carapace that lives in the box. I like to screw a plastic shoe box to the back of the box to contain all the extra wires and thermostat. Weather strip seals the top where the hinged lid meets it, and I use plastic freezer stripping across the door to hold in heat when the door is open. The door drops down like a drawbridge and makes a ramp fro the tortoise to get in and out easier. I latch the door shut every night and open the door every morning.

In summer our daytime highs are usually right around 100, with night time lows around 65. I unplug the boxes during this time and temps stay between 70 and 90 in them. In Fall, we have warm sunny days usually into December, so I set the thermostat to 80. As soon as the weather turns cold in winter, I bump the thermostat up to 86, so they always have an area to get warmer in on a cold rainy day here. Spring time brings back warmer sunny days, so I lower the box temp back down to 80. This routine works great for any tropical species like Stars, radiata, sulcatas and leopards.

Here is the box during construction. I frame the plywood walls with 2x4s and use 1.5" rigid foam as insulation. Then I seal it with silicone caulking and cover the walls with plywood inside.
View attachment 291639

Here is all the electrical stuff going into it:
View attachment 291640

View attachment 291641

Here I want to show the weather stripping in place, and the drip loop. The drip loop is simply draping the cord down a bit so that when it rains, the water drips down the cord to the ground instead of following the cord downhill right into the box.
View attachment 291642

Ready to keep a tortoise warm and safe at night:
View attachment 291643

This is a great way to house a large leopard or sulcata in a relatively warm climate. We get cold winter nights in the 20s and this box, built and heated this way, keeps them in the 80s. Because my climate is so dry, I usually add a 5 gallon bucket or some tubs of water to generate some ambient humidity inside the box. People in the South East US wouldn't need to do this.

Questions and conversation are welcome! :)

For larger tortoises, multiple tortoises, and a different heating strategy, see this thread:
Thank you Tom for your awesome reply and step by step info on enclosure. I live in southern northern AZ. I guess high desert lol. Appreciate your time and no artificial top soil here!!
 

AbeTheRussianTort

New Member
Joined
May 3, 2023
Messages
22
Location (City and/or State)
Los Angeles
I like my larger tortoises to live outside full time. My climate permits this year round with a little help. For people who live where it snows all winter, this type of box is still good for warmer weather, getting them out earlier in Spring, and keeping them out a bit later into fall. You'll need something else for the dead of winter. Or you can move South! :)

The top of this box is half a sheet of plywood, insulated and sealed, so 4x4 feet. The inside of the box ends up being around 40x40 inches when its all done. I use an 18x28 inch Kane heat mat on the floor, and a 21" radiant heat panel on the top. Both are controlled by the same thermostat: https://www.lllreptile.com/products/13883-zilla-1000-watt-temperature-controller
I lower the RHP so that it is within 6-8 inches of the tortoises carapace that lives in the box. I like to screw a plastic shoe box to the back of the box to contain all the extra wires and thermostat. Weather strip seals the top where the hinged lid meets it, and I use plastic freezer stripping across the door to hold in heat when the door is open. The door drops down like a drawbridge and makes a ramp fro the tortoise to get in and out easier. I latch the door shut every night and open the door every morning.

In summer our daytime highs are usually right around 100, with night time lows around 65. I unplug the boxes during this time and temps stay between 70 and 90 in them. In Fall, we have warm sunny days usually into December, so I set the thermostat to 80. As soon as the weather turns cold in winter, I bump the thermostat up to 86, so they always have an area to get warmer in on a cold rainy day here. Spring time brings back warmer sunny days, so I lower the box temp back down to 80. This routine works great for any tropical species like Stars, radiata, sulcatas and leopards.

Here is the box during construction. I frame the plywood walls with 2x4s and use 1.5" rigid foam as insulation. Then I seal it with silicone caulking and cover the walls with plywood inside.
View attachment 291639

Here is all the electrical stuff going into it:
View attachment 291640

View attachment 291641

Here I want to show the weather stripping in place, and the drip loop. The drip loop is simply draping the cord down a bit so that when it rains, the water drips down the cord to the ground instead of following the cord downhill right into the box.
View attachment 291642

Ready to keep a tortoise warm and safe at night:
View attachment 291643

This is a great way to house a large leopard or sulcata in a relatively warm climate. We get cold winter nights in the 20s and this box, built and heated this way, keeps them in the 80s. Because my climate is so dry, I usually add a 5 gallon bucket or some tubs of water to generate some ambient humidity inside the box. People in the South East US wouldn't need to do this.

Questions and conversation are welcome! :)

For larger tortoises, multiple tortoises, and a different heating strategy, see this thread:
[/QUOTE
I like my larger tortoises to live outside full time. My climate permits this year round with a little help. For people who live where it snows all winter, this type of box is still good for warmer weather, getting them out earlier in Spring, and keeping them out a bit later into fall. You'll need something else for the dead of winter. Or you can move South! :)

The top of this box is half a sheet of plywood, insulated and sealed, so 4x4 feet. The inside of the box ends up being around 40x40 inches when its all done. I use an 18x28 inch Kane heat mat on the floor, and a 21" radiant heat panel on the top. Both are controlled by the same thermostat: https://www.lllreptile.com/products/13883-zilla-1000-watt-temperature-controller
I lower the RHP so that it is within 6-8 inches of the tortoises carapace that lives in the box. I like to screw a plastic shoe box to the back of the box to contain all the extra wires and thermostat. Weather strip seals the top where the hinged lid meets it, and I use plastic freezer stripping across the door to hold in heat when the door is open. The door drops down like a drawbridge and makes a ramp fro the tortoise to get in and out easier. I latch the door shut every night and open the door every morning.

In summer our daytime highs are usually right around 100, with night time lows around 65. I unplug the boxes during this time and temps stay between 70 and 90 in them. In Fall, we have warm sunny days usually into December, so I set the thermostat to 80. As soon as the weather turns cold in winter, I bump the thermostat up to 86, so they always have an area to get warmer in on a cold rainy day here. Spring time brings back warmer sunny days, so I lower the box temp back down to 80. This routine works great for any tropical species like Stars, radiata, sulcatas and leopards.

Here is the box during construction. I frame the plywood walls with 2x4s and use 1.5" rigid foam as insulation. Then I seal it with silicone caulking and cover the walls with plywood inside.
View attachment 291639

Here is all the electrical stuff going into it:
View attachment 291640

View attachment 291641

Here I want to show the weather stripping in place, and the drip loop. The drip loop is simply draping the cord down a bit so that when it rains, the water drips down the cord to the ground instead of following the cord downhill right into the box.
View attachment 291642

Ready to keep a tortoise warm and safe at night:
View attachment 291643

This is a great way to house a large leopard or sulcata in a relatively warm climate. We get cold winter nights in the 20s and this box, built and heated this way, keeps them in the 80s. Because my climate is so dry, I usually add a 5 gallon bucket or some tubs of water to generate some ambient humidity inside the box. People in the South East US wouldn't need to do this.

Questions and conversation are welcome! :)

For larger tortoises, multiple tortoises, and a different heating strategy, see this thread:


Thank you so very much! This is super clear. I’ll get to work this weekend.
My plan is to connect this “bedroom” to the existing run, because the enclosure is super secure with lock. And I built my own duck and chicken coops, with sliding door I can pull from the outside of the coop. I can also make the sliding door also for this tortoise bedroom.

What is the wattage of the bulb?

Thank you!
 

Radnoisseur

Member
Joined
May 20, 2023
Messages
73
Location (City and/or State)
SoCal
Out of curiosity, it is inevitable that tortoises will defecate and urinate in their outdoor heated house; however, have anyone experienced less with certain "substrates"?

Which one is easier to clean essentially?

Bare wood
Bare cement
Dirt
Cedar
Orchid Bark
Etc?
 

vladimir

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 18, 2017
Messages
1,498
Location (City and/or State)
Pennsylvania
Coco coir absorbs moisture and clumps up as it dries, so it makes it easier to remove the mess. If it's really bad you can throw more coco coir over the area and let it soak up before cleaning
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
64,087
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Coco coir absorbs moisture and clumps up as it dries, so it makes it easier to remove the mess. If it's really bad you can throw more coco coir over the area and let it soak up before cleaning
Coco coir is too dry and dusty for use in an outdoor heated night box. I've tried.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
64,087
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Out of curiosity, it is inevitable that tortoises will defecate and urinate in their outdoor heated house; however, have anyone experienced less with certain "substrates"?

Which one is easier to clean essentially?

Bare wood
Bare cement
Dirt
Cedar
Orchid Bark
Etc?
Bare wood - Will absorb the waste and rot too soon. Not easy to clean.
Bare cement - Tortoises should never be on cement. Its too abrasive and will wear through their pads.
Dirt - This works best and is easiest to clean up and replace. A regular flat head shovel scrapes it out easily and fresh dirt can be dropped in its place.
Cedar - Cedar is toxic to tortoises and other animals. Never use cedar.
Orchid Bark - This can work, but it needs to be kept damp all the time or it will be too dusty, just like the coco coir. This dampness means you would have to waterproof the inside of the box with something like Pond Shield, which I have done several times.
Etc? - Etc? Answers will vary depending on what you are asking about.
 

AbeTheRussianTort

New Member
Joined
May 3, 2023
Messages
22
Location (City and/or State)
Los Angeles
Hi Tom, what about composted shredded tree mulch? In the summer, we had our trees trimmed. The tree cutting company shredded the cuttings into very nice fine mulch that has composted very very well. I use it for my duck bedding, chicken bedding, garden bedding, and honestly also for Abe’s little garden in the outdoor enclosure.

100% organic, nothing added. I waited 4 months until the shreds composted perfectly (fresh mulch has beneficial fungi in a few days after shredding, and must “cook” for 2-3 months before being used for animal bedding, but this is a good fungi for compost, now they are gone).
The smell is so fresh, nice, and earthy.
I still have a lot! And I plan on “cooking” new batch too for my coops.

Is this mulch okay?
 

Radnoisseur

Member
Joined
May 20, 2023
Messages
73
Location (City and/or State)
SoCal
Bare wood - Will absorb the waste and rot too soon. Not easy to clean.
Bare cement - Tortoises should never be on cement. Its too abrasive and will wear through their pads.
Dirt - This works best and is easiest to clean up and replace. A regular flat head shovel scrapes it out easily and fresh dirt can be dropped in its place.
Cedar - Cedar is toxic to tortoises and other animals. Never use cedar.
Orchid Bark - This can work, but it needs to be kept damp all the time or it will be too dusty, just like the coco coir. This dampness means you would have to waterproof the inside of the box with something like Pond Shield, which I have done several times.
Etc? - Etc? Answers will vary depending on what you are asking about.

I totally ment Cyprus Mulch. Of course not Cedar, a known fact that Cedar and Torts don't mix ;)
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
64,087
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I totally ment Cyprus Mulch. Of course not Cedar, a known fact that Cedar and Torts don't mix ;)
Copy that. I don't know how well known that fact is. I worked in pet store for 8 years when I was a younger man and many people did not know this.

Cypress mulch has the same answer as orchid bark in this case.
 

JokingYeti

New Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2023
Messages
22
Location (City and/or State)
Phoenix, Arizona
Bare wood - Will absorb the waste and rot too soon. Not easy to clean.
Bare cement - Tortoises should never be on cement. Its too abrasive and will wear through their pads.
Dirt - This works best and is easiest to clean up and replace. A regular flat head shovel scrapes it out easily and fresh dirt can be dropped in its place.
Cedar - Cedar is toxic to tortoises and other animals. Never use cedar.
Orchid Bark - This can work, but it needs to be kept damp all the time or it will be too dusty, just like the coco coir. This dampness means you would have to waterproof the inside of the box with something like Pond Shield, which I have done several times.
Etc? - Etc? Answers will vary depending on what you are asking about.
Hey Tom, I am about to start building my sulcata night box and have a question on the dirt. I am in the phoenix area where our dirt is very dusty clay. Can this still be used? If not, is there a soil i can buy at a hardware store that will work?

Additionally, I am planning on using your 4x4 single night box plans, but with an oil heater and kane mat. Is there a strong reason I should be using a RHP instead of the oil heater?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
64,087
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Hey Tom, I am about to start building my sulcata night box and have a question on the dirt. I am in the phoenix area where our dirt is very dusty clay. Can this still be used? If not, is there a soil i can buy at a hardware store that will work?

Additionally, I am planning on using your 4x4 single night box plans, but with an oil heater and kane mat. Is there a strong reason I should be using a RHP instead of the oil heater?
Your dirt should be fine.

Mini oil heaters work. Its a bit overkill for a 4x4, but the thermostat will keep it in check.
 
Top