Saturday, May 4, 2013

Working hard, building the new outdoor enclosure

In past Summers, the Russian tortoises have spent a lot of time outside in the sun, either roaming (under supervision) the lawn, or in large rubbermaid bins, the kid pool (without water) etc. - this year I decided it was time to put a more permanent outdoor enclosure in place. The west-facing flowerbeds seemed to be a good option, so I am working on converting them.

The wooden structure is about 1/2 done. It will be 5ft x 30ft.
I got some 4-ft sections of pressure treated lumber from one of our neighbors. They aren't the ideal size to work with, but it is hard to argue with 'free' and so I am making it work.
You may notice that I have irises growing in the area where the tortoises will be. Those will all be dug up before any tortoises are allowed in there... I'm just waiting for them to finish blooming. I want to transplant the 'fancy' irises, and will give away the 'normal' ones.
I have already planted or transplanted many tortoise safe plants into this area, and I also seeded it with the Tortoise Lady's seed mix (thank you, Lynne!). I'll still have to supplement with tortoise food I collect, but I am sure the tortoises will have fun chomping down on the good edible greens!

I dug a 'no-escape' trench, and filled it with river rock.
 Russian tortoises are incredible diggers, so when building an outdoor enclosure, it is important to make sure the tortoises will not escape. On the end (not shown here) I dug a deep trench and placed the pavers in there vertically. This took me nearly 6 hours for a 5-ft section... the soil was pure clay below the flower bed soil, with lots of rocks. I decided on a different solution in the front, 30-ft section: I dug the trench down to where the really rocky clay soil begins, about 6-8 inches, and then filled the trench with river rock. I anchored the cedar support posts in the rock, and placed cement pavers over top the trench. The pavers sit below the wood, so if the tortoises try to dig at the wooden edge, they will get nowhere.

The Russian tortoises got to play inside the makeshift pens while I worked
Not wanting to waste a perfectly good sunny day, I used some of the lumber to build some make-shift pens for the Russian tortoises. The one in the back was for Lady, who is still in quarantine. The one in the front has the other Russian tortoises in it. The plastic pans that I usually use for soaking provided good shade and shelter.

Mila, enjoying the sunshine. 
I took close-ups of all the tortoises, but only Mila's picture really turned out today. Do you see where the dark pigmentation is starting to grow into the bright yellow new growth? Yay for UVB!

1 comment:

  1. This is so awesome! We are building an enclosure for our Russian Tortoise as a summer project! Do you have any pictures of your finished product?


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