Tortoise outdoor hide question

Xyelem

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Hi y’all, I’m in the process of building my Russian tortoise an outdoor enclosure and I went with this as one of my hides (the other is a large terracotta pot we’re going to partially bury). My question is: do I need to insulate the inside of this? I live is the USA in zone 5b, if that helps at all. Plus, my tortoise will come inside this year when it gets too chilly out, so she won’t really be outside when it’s cold at all. If it does need to be insulated, what do you recommend?
 

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Alex and the Redfoot

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Hello!
It depends on purpose:
1. If its a "night box", when nights are cold but days are warm and full of sun - then you need an insulation AND some heating source to maintain comfort temperature.
2. If it's to escape the summer heat - then you need some shade over it (like a tree, bush or shade sail) and insulation is not needed.
 
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Xyelem

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Joined
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Omaha, NE
Hello!
It depends on purpose:
1. If its a "night box", when nights are cold but days are warm and full of sun - then you need an insulation AND some heating source to maintain comfort temperature.
2. If it's to escape the summer heat - then you need some shade over it (like a tree, bush or shade sail) and insulation is not needed.
Awesome, thank you! It’s to escape the summer heat. It can get up to like 110 here pretty easily in the summer. I already have like a tarp thing to shade the area. Do I need to put like hay or anything in her box? I see people do that and am kind of unclear on if it’s just for comfort or if it’s also for insulation.
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Awesome, thank you! It’s to escape the summer heat. It can get up to like 110 here pretty easily in the summer. I already have like a tarp thing to shade the area. Do I need to put like hay or anything in her box? I see people do that and am kind of unclear on if it’s just for comfort or if it’s also for insulation.
Hay doesn't help to avoid heat. And it molds when wet. But many tortoises like to hide in hay or straw. Something like a yard dirt or coco coir is probably better - some opportunity to burrow in damp substrate to cool down and rehydrate. And it's easier to spot clean. It's not necessary, though.

To provide a heat shelter, I think something going deep in the ground will work better. When ambient (not under the direct sun) temperatures are 90-95F - the whole house will be that hot, but ground temperatures are usually lower.
 

SinLA

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If its just to provide a place for shade then no need to add anything. You might want to look at a thread on here about "deep shade". I have my dog house also covered with a reflective shade to keep it as cool as possible
 

Xyelem

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Omaha, NE
Hay doesn't help to avoid heat. And it molds when wet. But many tortoises like to hide in hay or straw. Something like a yard dirt or coco coir is probably better - some opportunity to burrow in damp substrate to cool down and rehydrate. And it's easier to spot clean. It's not necessary, though.

To provide a heat shelter, I think something going deep in the ground will work better. When ambient (not under the direct sun) temperatures are 90-95F - the whole house will be that hot, but ground temperatures are usually lower.
How deep are we talking here? I’m getting a 17” terracotta pot and was planning on partially burying it, but I can try and dig deeper or do something a little differently if I need to.
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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How deep are we talking here? I’m getting a 17” terracotta pot and was planning on partially burying it, but I can try and dig deeper or do something a little differently if I need to.
I would use a half-pot so tortoise can dig deeper if it wants to. You may burrow it and make a small hill. The trouble with burrows is that they get flooded. If you already have a cat house - check how it works, maybe there is no need to overengineer anything.

That's an example of "burrow style" hide with dimensions and temperatures:

If you don't mind some technical details you can check this post as well:
 

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