Sulcata doesn't want anything to do with his house

Dok_M

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I recently built my 2 year old sulcata a night box. Heavy duty built like a house but insulated with R-30 insulation all the way around. I put a kane heat mat and an oil filled heater in there. It's perfect temperature wise stays 85 all the time even when it is 100 out. The problem is he won't go in or out of it on his own. I always have to put him up. Before I got around to putting the slit rubber for the door he would come out in the morning on his own. But now he won't. The roof is pretty heavy and my wife can't lift it on her own. I leave for work at 4am and it is generally too cold for him at that time so he has to wait until I get home around 2pm. We have tried coaxing him out with his favorite treats to no avail. Any advice on how to make him more comfortable with the house?
 

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Dok_M

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There are some threads about training a tortoise, search training sulcata to go into night box, on this forum. I've only had ours since an adult and he has always just done it. Is your split plastic in the door clear?

Also, search for gas struts here then install so your wife can lift it more easily :)
I have black rubber not the clear. Didn't think it would be much different but a good idea. I'll look into some gas struts. The lid is probably 100lbs. I'll look into the training for sure.
 

Markw84

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Nice job on the night house. I really like it!

We can't see what you are using for the door. Is it clear? That will make a huge difference. I use freezer door curtain that is a very thick yet pliable clear plastic curtain that comes in 12" wide strips. I cut that into 4" strips and overlap 2-3 layers to make the doorway curtain.

In getting a tortoise used to going in and out, I also find it is helpful if the tortoise can see under the curtain a bit. That will cause him to push his way under. once used to that, it is not necessary as they know to push through that type barrier.
 

Dok_M

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I was using thick black rubber. I felt like it would give better temperature barrier but it also seems like it has become a tortoise barrier as well. I removed it yesterday. Thanks I'm pretty proud of the house. 16325862206311453589317715292367.jpg
 

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Markw84

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Tom

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I recently built my 2 year old sulcata a night box. Heavy duty built like a house but insulated with R-30 insulation all the way around. I put a kane heat mat and an oil filled heater in there. It's perfect temperature wise stays 85 all the time even when it is 100 out. The problem is he won't go in or out of it on his own. I always have to put him up. Before I got around to putting the slit rubber for the door he would come out in the morning on his own. But now he won't. The roof is pretty heavy and my wife can't lift it on her own. I leave for work at 4am and it is generally too cold for him at that time so he has to wait until I get home around 2pm. We have tried coaxing him out with his favorite treats to no avail. Any advice on how to make him more comfortable with the house?
I use 8" strips of clear vinyl freezer door flaps. I over lap them about one inch. For a tortoise that is new to the concept, I will hold one or two flaps up and out of the way with a clamp of some sort. This allows them to learn the pattern of where to go. Then, when the flaps are down, they just push their way through the "barrier" that is in their well beaten path.

Most torts take at least a week or two to figure out going back to their box on their own. I've had stubborn ones take two months. Just put him in it every evening and open the door every morning. It will make life easier, when its possible, if you put the box where the tortoise already goes at night. When that doesn't work, I'll make a little round pen with blocks or a puppy pen around the door of the box and put the tortoise in there at the time they normally retire for the evening. Then there is no where else to go but in the box. They can't get to their favorite spot, so they will usually seek whatever shelter they can find. It would be good to have the flaps removed, or lifted out of the way at this time. Something else that helps is to put the tortoise on the ramp at night, but about half way in. Let him walk the rest of the way on his own. Each night, start him just a little further back. Eventually he will learn the routine and begin walking in on his own.
 
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tortlvr

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I was using thick black rubber. I felt like it would give better temperature barrier but it also seems like it has become a tortoise barrier as well. I removed it yesterday. Thanks I'm pretty proud of the house. View attachment 333521
Try reducing the interior footprint. It may make him feel more secure as in a burrow. I haven't had this issue so good luck. The house looks amazing. Well done.
 

Jenna524

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Our Sulcata took about two months before he would go in and out of the box on his own. We would just take him to his box every night, and he’d walk out on his own in the morning (I think the clear plastic was important for him to exit on his own). Now he will spend his whole day at the far reaches away from his house, and by evening he makes his way back and puts himself to bed in his house. He never goes inside during the day, but finds other hides around the yard. Inevitably he goes “home” every night. I’m guessing he’ll visit his house more when it gets colder during the day.
 

lovee50

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This might be a stupid question but will you be adding substrate to the floor? I don’t think the bare floor is inviting to a sulcata, but I am no expert?Ours likes to dig around in the substrate. Nice box by the way!
 

Dok_M

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This might be a stupid question but will you be adding substrate to the floor? I don’t think the bare floor is inviting to a sulcata, but I am no expert?Ours likes to dig around in the substrate. Nice box by the way!
From what I understand substrate is a big no no with the kane mat. When he is in there he goes straight for the kane mat. I guess I have room for some but would worry constantly about a fire hazard.
 

lovee50

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From what I understand substrate is a big no no with the kane mat. When he is in there he goes straight for the kane mat. I guess I have room for some but would worry constantly about a fire hazard.
I’ll let the experts weigh in about that as I don’t use a kane mat but I thought I read they don’t get hot enough to cause a fire? Our tortoise walked into her enclosure within 5 minutes of us putting it there, mostly because she’s very curious about anything new!
 

Tom

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From what I understand substrate is a big no no with the kane mat. When he is in there he goes straight for the kane mat. I guess I have room for some but would worry constantly about a fire hazard.
You are correct. No substrate on any heat mat.

I've done boxes with no substrate, with hay substrate, with dirt substrate, with a dirt bottom, and with orchid bark. No tort of any species size or age has seemed to care one way or the other. The sulcatas did attempt to dig to China on the dirt floors and I had to go back and retro fit wooden bottoms on those.
 

lovee50

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You are correct. No substrate on any heat mat.

I've done boxes with no substrate, with hay substrate, with dirt substrate, with a dirt bottom, and with orchid bark. No tort of any species size or age has seemed to care one way or the other. The sulcatas did attempt to dig to China on the dirt floors and I had to go back and retro fit wooden bottoms on th
 

Nash

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My sulcata got down right angry when I introduced him to his new 4X4 insulated Tom's night box. He went on a destroying spree. He was 5 years old. I guess he was spoiled. We had built him an insulated shed that I could stand up in and realized it really wasn't economically good. We had a high electric bill but I kept on. The shed was really warm and humid. I checked it all the time with my expensive heat and humidity gun, had thermostats, alarms, you name it. I had it. I was constantly using 2 different humidifiers, always running, which later on Tom told me that it wasn't such a good idea. We had the kane mat AND the vinyl reptile overhead heater unit AND the oil heater all on timers. This shed was insulated to the hilt with shower curtains around the outside metal to keep in the humidity. We then covered the shower curtain with siding panels. The inside was 2" foam board covered by 2" plywood - top, sides AND floor with 2" plywood on the ground, 2" foam board between that and then another piece of 2" plywood. It was a 5'X6' metal shed, well supposed to be. I continued to soak him at 5 years old. (Made him a sauna bath in the winter. Kept him from breathing in cold air after those sauna baths!) By the time we finished the shed, it was a great place to hang out in the winter with my tort. 2 years I paid terrible electric bills, so we decided on Tom's night box for the next winter. We spent the money and built a nice one that summer. I thought he'd think it was the most fantastic place and a great home. Boy was I wrong! My tort destroyed everything in my yard, EVERYTHING. My yard was a tortoise paradise. All the great weeds, flowers and veggies he could have. He ended up getting caught behind my patio swing, upside down, and about hurt himself really really bad. He was only about 40lbs. My husband and I were really nervous. If a 40lber could do this, what happens when he is 200lbs. I try to warn folks, please please please do yourselves a favor, read and study all you can on this forum. They know their stuff. I don't have him anymore. We had ripped down the shed - (his shed) to give him a real nice Tom house. So there was nothing else to do for him. I didn't have a yard left. Unfortunately guys, I had to get rid of my Nash. I stay on this forum because I love listening to all the great advice. If I can pipe in somehow I try. This is one of those times. I love listening to the success stories. It makes me literally cry to hear the sad ones. I just wished for everyone's sake and the tortoises sake that folks would really consider that cute little tortoise that can fit in the palm of your hand is gonna grow up to be 200, 250lbs. They are literally bulldozers!

I commend you! If you have the space, time, diligence and patience to keep on trying, God bless you. I miss mine so much! I might someday look at another type of tortoise, one not so big but much like the sulcatas. They are really something.
 

Sue Ann

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You need clear vinyl strips. Also do you have a ramp for him to climb into the house? I did not see it in the photos. I put a few shingles on the ramp to help my boy enter.
 

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