Pickle's Upcycled Idyll

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Nikki
Posts: 2
Joined: 27 Jun 2020, 22:27

Pickle's Upcycled Idyll

Post by Nikki » 27 Jun 2020, 23:42

Have you ever noticed just how therapeutic it is to sit and watch a tortoise going about his daily life? In recent days, I’ve found myself curled up beside our newest addition simply basking in the calm yet focused manner in which he navigates his way from heat to food to water to play, and back again. His self-sufficiency and unquestioning self-awareness, not to mention his absolute cuteness, are something to behold, and a gentle lesson for us all. There are, however, many words to describe our journey from being a busy family of six to contented tortoise keepers, and calm is unlikely to be one of them.

We did a lot of soul searching before deciding to commit, and the learning curve was steep as we’d never looked after a tortoise before, but wanted to be sure we had a good idea of what we’d be in for. Decision made, and homework done, we had a frustrating search for our new shelled buddy, so I set to work designing a tortoise table. Then, out of the blue appeared a creep (who knew?!) of Hermann hatchlings, and, before I knew it, Ickle Pickle was chosen and named. Our tortoise table plans went out the window, however, when a comprehensive package was offered to best meet the needs of our newest family member. The set-up included a vivarium and pellet substrate, and, as my concerns were all addressed in a seemingly logical manner, we scrapped the table idea.

Original set-up, before conversion to his healthier lifestyle: [attachment=0]Original set-up.jpg[/attachment]

Once home and set up, I made a quick checklist of the plants, flowers, and weeds in the garden (other than dandelions, which are in abundance), in the hope of listing the ones that were edible. A quick search online brought me to The Tortoise Table, with its phenomenal resources. Food research aside (and diet amended accordingly), it wasn’t long before I discovered the error of my ways, however, and the tortoise table was suddenly back in play. I weighed up my options, and concluded that merging the new vivarium with my original table design would minimise any further costs, and provide Pickle with a more natural and healthy environment in a short space of time.

From that moment, it was all hands to the pump, or tortoise house in this case, and after a quick recce in the shed, we found what we needed – an old coffee table that was exactly the right length to allow the vivarium to be integrated snugly. A long day of children wielding saws to remove the legs, and my husband and I trying to figure out how to remove one side, including runners and struts, without dismantling the whole lot (which may actually have been quicker, in retrospect), then followed. When the moment of truth came, however, the vivarium and table slipped together without any fuss, and stage one was complete. I mistakenly thought that that was the hard bit done, and the rest would be plain sailing, but then I had to line it.

Waterproof linings are fairly flexible, so I thought it would simply be a case of cutting it to size and fixing it in place. Sadly, not. Buoyed by my fantasies of being done in short order, the kids looked after Pickle while I removed the glass doors and the substrate, and set to work creating his new home. Lining the upside-down coffee table was straightforward, and even going up and over the bottom lip went quite smoothly. The problem came when I tried to accommodate the two sides that the glass doors used to slide in to. Folding, tucking, twisting, muttering, bending, trimming…I tried it all, until it eventually sat reasonably flat whilst covering all of the surfaces adequately. Now I had to do the other side, and Pickle was getting restless, so we put some soil/sand mix in the open end of his new home and let him explore. It definitely seemed like a good idea until I realised that I would be at full stretch to reach the back wall to attach the lining as I could no longer climb in…more muttering ensued. After what seemed an eternity, and back and shoulder muscles that were questioning the wisdom of my ways, the liner was in. In our excitement, however, we put in the rest of the soil/sand mix before I remembered the second floor needed to go in.

We discovered early on that Pickle fancies himself as a bit of a sky-diving daredevil, but without a parachute we weren’t taking any chances. We’d spent hours making sidings out of spoons, raiding the train set for track and trees, and even decorating it with wooden buttons, all simply to keep him from taking the quickest way down. The raised area (or viewing gallery) with ramps looked well, and we were hopeful that Pickle would enjoy it too, but, ideally, it should have been in place before the 4 inches of substrate…doh! That only left one realistic option – carefully dig a hole for it (watch you don’t bury Pickle!), and hope for the best. Thankfully, it went in with only minimal jiggery-pokery (and some more muttering), and, with the structural work complete, the kids set about landscaping. Finally, Pickle’s Idyll was ready.

2nd floor adaptation for our sky diving daredevil: [attachment=1]Viewing gallery.jpg[/attachment]
Pickle's new, upcycled idyll: [attachment=2]Pickle's Idyll.jpg[/attachment]

So, does Pickle appreciate the change? Well, I’m no tortoise whisperer (not yet, at least), but I’m pretty certain that, when he thinks no-one is listening, you can hear little squeals of excitement as he runs/slides down the ramp, clambers over rocks, and paddles in his water. He hasn’t stopped exploring, but then why would he? Each day is a new adventure, after all.
Attachments
Original set-up.jpg
Viewing gallery.jpg
Pickle's Idyll.jpg
Last edited by Nikki on 28 Jun 2020, 12:26, edited 2 times in total.

Nikki
Posts: 2
Joined: 27 Jun 2020, 22:27

Re: Pickle's Upcycled Idyll

Post by Nikki » 28 Jun 2020, 11:59

Raw ingredients...

One vivarium [attachment=2]Vivarium.jpg[/attachment]
One disused coffee table... [attachment=1]One disused coffee table....jpg[/attachment]
...on its back [attachment=0]...on its back.jpg[/attachment]
Attachments
...on its back.jpg
One disused coffee table....jpg
Vivarium.jpg

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Nina
Posts: 1270
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Pickle's Upcycled Idyll

Post by Nina » 28 Jun 2020, 13:25

What a brilliant transformation! It just goes to show what can be done with a bit of creativity and four enthusuastic children! And the result is one happy tortoise, who will almost certainly have a happier and much longer life in his new improved home.

Thanks for posting tihs, Nikki, and I hope that it will be an inspiration to others who unwittingly bought highly recommneded vivs from a pet shop.

Nina

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Helen
Posts: 20
Joined: 14 Mar 2017, 13:30

Re: Pickle's Upcycled Idyll

Post by Helen » 28 Jun 2020, 14:27

How lovely. What a great transformation Nikki. I did something similar for an adult tortoise I rehomed many years ago. She came compete with her home, a 3' vivarium with glass fronts. That had been her home from hatchling to young adulthood. Her viv redesigned by me, was quite basic and not as elaborate as the one that you have so painstakingly made, did the trick for many months and she now lives happily with others in an insulated shed with access to greenhouse and garden. Your story written with so much detail and love I'm sure will be an inspiration for others. Well done and thank you for sharing it with us Nikki.
Helen

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