Sunday, December 16, 2012

Boo's new tort enclosure

I am so excited to show you all our Greek tortoise Boo's new enclosure! I built this from my own design - and I had fun painting it. I had to use my neighbor's tools, and he took over a little lot more of the work than I would have chosen... however, truth be told, the end result is probably much more sturdy than it would have been if I had built it completely by myself. Boo's new tort fort is both functional, and attractive.

As you may have already read, I rescued Boo from a family who kept him in a tiny 20-gallon aquarium in the winter, and in the Summer kept him in the garden, tethered by a ring drilled into his shell.

This is what Boo used to live in:
20 gallon aquarium

...and this is what Boo lives in now:
48"L x 18"W x 15"H wood and glass enclosure
In the grand scheme of tortoise tables, even this new one is actually not very large. In a few years I am going to build Boo a much larger enclosure, and this tort fort will turn into the Russian tortoise nursery... (you know, when Timmy lays some eggs? *wishful thinking*)

The challenge, when building a tortoise table, is that tortoises are happier when they have solid walls around them. They can't grasp the concept of glass, and continually attempt to walk through it. However, the large dresser that I wanted to set the enclosure on was high enough up that nobody would have been able to see in if all four walls were made of wood. I created a simple design that allowed for three solid wood walls, and glass in the front for easier viewing. (I got the 1/4" thick tempered glass on Craigslist for $3!)

...done painting and staining, still need the glass front and the vinyl flooring
I built this tortoise enclosure out of stain grade wooden boards treated with several coats of 'mission oak'-tinted polyurethane, with vinyl flooring, caulked cracks, and a glass front that I decoupaged and painted a sight barrier on the bottom 4.5 inches. I painted a little mural on the back that matches the design of our curtains. The hide box doubles as a plant stand (and the flower pot helps prevent Boo from climbing up and out - he's half monkey!)

...the glass is installed, and the UV light is in place.
 For substrate I used a mix of moistened coconut coir and sand. The coco coir is 4 inches deep, except in the hide box, where it is closer to 6.5 inches. Boo will be able to burrow to his heart's content.

Live spider plant, and some bird seed, barley, and kale planted in some organic soil
 I planted some seeds in a plastic container of organic soil. They have sprouted in the meantime, and Boo enjoys nibbling on the sprouts, as well as digging in the soil. The spider plant has taken somewhat of a beating, too, since Boo keeps trying to climb it.

All moved in! 
 Once I was content with the set-up, I moved the basking lamps over from the little aquarium, and moved Boo in. The flat basking rock is nice and big, and helps hold the basking temperature at a steady 95-100 degrees F. The UVB light is installed in a way that Boo will benefit from as he moves around his tort fort.

This plant got replaced with a pumpkin in the meantime, until I find a good climbing rock.
The jade plant didn't survive Boo's climbing for long.
 Have I mentioned that Boo is half monkey? Tortoises seem to find the most complicated route to get from a) to b) and then they make it more interesting by doing acrobatics along the way. They are especially happy if in the process they can drag as much substrate and food into their water dish as possible.

All tuckered out from exploring and climbing!
At the end of the day, Boo luxuriously dug into his 6+ inches of substrate in his hide house and went to sleep!

I hope that some day Boo will learn to trust me enough to eat out of my hand. He is a VERY picky eater, and he still pulls into his shell any time someone reaches into the tort table (I don't blame him, after being disrespected by his old owners). He does seem so much more happy in his new enclosure, though. He is very active, explores, basks, climbs, digs... he is able to look out through the glass if he climbs to a high point, and he definitely watches the kids as they play.

Boo is still very shy...
...but with much patience...
...he is getting used to me!

1 comment:

  1. Awwwe, boo is so cute and that tort fort is pure genius and art. I can't believe his old owners. Shame on them. We'll wish boo a happy 100 years ;)


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