Sunday, December 2, 2012

Our new Tort table for our Russian tortoises, Timmy and Roz

We recently commissioned our friend to build us a sturdy and attractive red oak and oak ply tortoise table for Timmy and Roz. We figured that our torts would live with us for the rest of our lives, so their enclosure might as well not be an eye sore!

Yesterday I moved the torts in - our friend still has to build us a  stand that will go under the tort table, but I was eager to get Timmy and Roz settled into their new digs.

This is what the tort table looked like when we brought it home from our friend
I wanted the tort table to match our other furniture, which is 100+ year old oak. Our friend did a fantastic job imitating the style (and spent lots of time making beautiful trim!), and then I treated it with 1 coat of "Mission Oak"-tinted polyurethane, and 4 coats of "Warm Pecan"-tinted polyurethane. The tort table now looks as if it was made of the same oak as our antiques.

This is what it looked like when I was done treating the wood, and installing the glass:
As you can see, I already put in the substrate, basking rock, water, plants etc
The tort table is 6ft x a little less than 3ft. The walls are 22 inches high, so in time I can build a little second level over part of it. The whole area behind the left-hand panel is a nice roomy hide box.

Timmy and Roz having dinner - I put them in before planting the plants
I was so eager to put Timmy and Roz into their new enclosure that I moved them before I had time to put the plants in. They walked around, ate dinner, then dug themselves into the 5 inches of coco coir under their favorite flower pot hide.

Once the kids and the torts were in bed, I spent several hours finishing everything, planting some tort-safe plants, and adding more substrate. For substrate I used 4-5 inches of moist coconut coir mixed 1:1 by dry weight with play sand. The hide box has 7-8 inches of it. This was a total of 7 bricks of coir... thank goodness I had a 'buy-one-get-one-free' coupon!

View from the basking spot window
Here is a tour of the table:
1.) spider plant
2.) plastic box with organic soil and seeds (will sprout)
3.) water dish, re-purposed from a giant pie pan
4.) Christmas cactus
5.) flagstone basking spot - I scored it at the quarry (UVB tube light + basking lamp + ceramic heat lamp)
6.) entrance to the hide box - it's floor space is almost 3 square feet inside!
7.) prayer plant
8.) rocks around the water dish, to anchor it
9.) flat stone to feed the torts on (far enough away from the lights that leaves don't just dry out right away!)
10.) jade plant
These are the plants I planted - they are all safe for torts to eat, just in case they take a few chomps:
Spider plant (with some little succulents from my garden)
Also, organic soil with a variety of bird-seed and other seeds to sprout
Prayer Plant
Christmas cactus
Jade plant and a few other little succulents from the garden
The torts seem to really love their new enclosure. They were out basking under their lights when I got up this morning, and they spent all morning trashing exploring their new little landscape. The hay got tracked all over, and of course there is substrate in the water dish... *sigh*
Roz is half monkey
I am not entirely sure that the live plants will survive for very long... I will tolerate some level of destruction, and then may decide to rescue move the plants elsewhere.

I moved Boo into his new tort table, too, yesterday! He will get his own post.


  1. Did any of the plants survive?

  2. Haha, @Carl... well, the Christmas cactus is still alive and well (it is high up enough that the tortoises can only reach a few of the leaves). The prayer plant is still alive, but only because I removed it from the tort fort. The jade plant got eaten up, as did the spider plant. ;)


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