Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our Russian tortoises' outdoor enclosure

Our outdoor tortoise enclosure is finished! I like to call it our tortoise garden - since it is built in the spot that used to have flower beds. I still have to hang the fish netting to protect the 5 Russian tortoises from crows and hawks, but otherwise it is fully usable. I have made the frame for a nice little cold frame, but still need to install the polycarbonate sheets. I'll post pictures of that when it's done.

The railing and hardware cloth are installed
I built a railing out of cedar, and installed hardware cloth for additional safety (to keep the tortoises in, and to keep kids out). The tortoise garden has 2 points of entry, where the railing is lower.

Timmy, one of the 5 tortoises who roams here
The tortoises really seem to love roaming about, digging in, and exploring. I have learned each of their favorite spots, so I know where to search to find them in the evening! Roz is the master digger: he makes burrows 2 ft deep that I have to pull him out of!

The view from the ground
I am still working on making some nice dry hiding spots for the tortoises. Until those are done, I've put a board in there (propped up by some rocks), as well as some flower pots.

The view of the length of the tortoise garden
The little seedlings from the tortoise seed mix are starting to come up - the tortoise garden will be filled with plants pretty soon where right now there is mostly dirt.

Plenty of room to roam!
My kids like to help me me bring the tortoises outside into their garden in the morning, and back inside in the evening. I try to involve them in the care, and my oldest son, who is 7, can already identify some of the plants that are edible for tortoises.

Driftwood hide
My friend gave me this nice piece of driftwood (in the picture above). The salt in the wood has helped preserve the wood, and the tortoises have dug out a nice little burrow under it. I have noticed that some aggressive spiders have started making funnel webs under there, so I need to set up some spider traps out of reach of the tortoises. I don't mind garden spiders, but it seems like this kind might bite the tortoises.

Lady enjoying the rocky basking area -
It's shaded for part of the afternoon, but the rocks are warm
I have tried to construct the terrain of the tortoise garden such that it has hills and different environments for the tortoises: dry shade, moist earth, sunny dirt, sunny rocks, different shrubs and plants and weeds. Each of the tortoises seems to have their favorite spots.

Little Jill, enjoying some sunshine
The tortoises got soaked before going outside this time, so their shells are pretty clean in these pics. I have to admit that I think grubby, dusty tortoises are the cutest of all... so next time I will post pictures of nice dirty tortoises instead of clean shiny ones!


  1. This is AMAZING! I just found your blog, and it is just great! Can't wait to see more. I just recently bought a Russian Tortoise I have named Orwell, and am currently keeping him indoors. This is because I am currently renting a room in a friends house, but the girlfriend and I are planning on getting our own place where we can keep Orwell outside during the summer.

    Your outdoor tortise enclosure is beautiful! and is giving us so many ideas! Thank you!

  2. I love this! you did an amazing job and your toties look like they are in eden.


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