Night box design.

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MiriPiri
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Joined: 05 Feb 2022, 10:23

Night box design.

Post by MiriPiri » 10 Apr 2022, 16:16

Hi,
I’ve recently moved to Scotland with Herbella my Hermann. Whilst she was hibernating I put up a potting shed and outdoor enclosure. Inside the potting shed she has a Basking lamp for daytime and a hatch to go outside. Also inside is a wooden night box with a tubular heater, on a thermostat, as her bedroom. However, the tubular heater isn’t keeping the temperature high enough. The thermostat is set at 15c, but the temp has dropped lower than that. Herbella is now awake and doing ok and getting to know her new surroundings. I’m in the process of insulating the whole shed, but could really do with some ideas on improving her bedroom.

At the moment I’m using a fan heater to heat the whole shed over night, but it’s costing quite a lot to run and I could really do with some design ideas please as I get really bogged down reading through Google. I thought of getting a ceramic bulb which would mean getting rid of the wooden box, but what should I replace it with? One option is the chimney pot she has outside. I thought I could bring it in and semi-sink it into the topsoil and put the ceramic heater at one end. Would that work? Is it safe if the chimney pot warms up?

Any design ideas would be great please and sorry if this has been asked 100’s of times already.

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lin
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Re: Night box design.

Post by lin » 10 Apr 2022, 21:10

Hi MiriPiri, thanks for contacting us.

For me to advise it would be so much easier if you send in a few photos of the layout of the areas that you are talking about.
Insulating the shed would make a big difference but I’m wondering if the windows would be allowing the cold through (seeing how it goes perhaps a cheap secondary glazing might work, made with a cling film type of stuff and thin lathes to hold it in place.
What you are doing seems to be a great start so I will wait for your photos rather than fill your head with mights and maybe’s.

Lin

MiriPiri
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Re: Night box design.

Post by MiriPiri » 11 Apr 2022, 20:52

Hi, I’ll try and upload a photo in the next few days. There’s 4 windows and I’ve covered them in reflective bubble wrap, but lift the wrap on 2 windows during the day for some natural light.

Herbella used to have an L shaped house with one section (sitting room) having a glass roof and basking light and the other section (bedroom) having a tubular heater and felt roof. When I moved to Scotland the removals people forgot to pack the bedroom roof so I’ve found a piece of wood that fits well enough but not perfect. Once I got the potting shed up I butchered her old house and put the bedroom in the potting shed and got rid of the sitting room. I’d like Herbella to have a better night box and am happy to ditch the bedroom for something better. It needs to be something relatively cost effective as I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money on her. It must be love 🐢💕

MiriPiri
Posts: 33
Joined: 05 Feb 2022, 10:23

Re: Night box design.

Post by MiriPiri » 11 Apr 2022, 20:52

Hi, I’ll try and upload a photo in the next few days. There’s 4 windows and I’ve covered them in reflective bubble wrap, but lift the wrap on 2 windows during the day for some natural light.

Herbella used to have an L shaped house with one section (sitting room) having a glass roof and basking light and the other section (bedroom) having a tubular heater and felt roof. When I moved to Scotland the removals people forgot to pack the bedroom roof so I’ve found a piece of wood that fits well enough but not perfect. Once I got the potting shed up I butchered her old house and put the bedroom in the potting shed and got rid of the sitting room. I’d like Herbella to have a better night box and am happy to ditch the bedroom for something better. It needs to be something relatively cost effective as I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money on her. It must be love 🐢💕

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Nina
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Re: Night box design.

Post by Nina » 12 Apr 2022, 14:07

Hi MiriPiri,

Yes, it's definitely love, and it sounds like Herbella has a wonderful life with you, and I hope she's grateful for that! :D

Looking forward to seeing your photos, but the chimney pot sounds workable. Would she be able to touch the ceramic heater that you would put at one end? You wouldn't want her to be able to touch it, as she could get burned, but I don't think that it would matter if the chimney pot itself warmed up a bit. Presumably the ceramic heater will be on a thermostat, set to come on if the temperature drops below about 14C or 15C, and it will turn off once the temperature gets above that, so there's no chance of the chimney pot warming up too much. Also, of course, being ceramic, the chimney pot will retain any heat in it for a while, so it might mean that your thermostat doesn't have to come on again too quickly after it turns off.

I think that in the winter, or other cold times, the potting shed (which I assume is made from wood), won't be very effective at keeping the cold out (brick or breezeblock structures are better for that), but as Lin said, some insulation should make a big difference, and of course when warmer weather comes there won't be any problems at all.

Nina

MiriPiri
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Re: Night box design.

Post by MiriPiri » 16 Apr 2022, 08:28

Just tried to pos a photo but it says the files too large. I’ll try again later.
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MiriPiri
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Re: Night box design.

Post by MiriPiri » 16 Apr 2022, 08:36

Hopefully this will work.
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MiriPiri
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Re: Night box design.

Post by MiriPiri » 16 Apr 2022, 08:39

This is very much a work in progress inside and out. I need loads more plants and hiding spots outside, but it gives you a general idea.

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Nina
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Re: Night box design.

Post by Nina » 22 Apr 2022, 09:17

So sorry to be late in responding to your post! For some reason I didn't get a notification of your posting and have only just now found it.

That is a super set-up and space you have made for Herbella, and what a lucky tortoise she is to have found a home with you! You've done a great job, and I'm not sure I can think of any improvements. I'll let Lin know that you've posted the photos, and I'm sure she will have some ideas.

Hopefully, now that we've had some warmer weather, you're not finding it as difficult to keep it warm enough in the shed, but we will need to think of something before the winter is upon us again. I know there is a type of insulation that is recommended (can't remember the name now, but Lin will know what it is) that I think is easy to install, although I don't know if it's expensive or not.

Thanks so much for the photos -- I wish the enclosure for my tortoises was as big as yours!

Nina

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lin
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Re: Night box design.

Post by lin » 22 Apr 2022, 13:18

Oh wow. That looks brilliant and the space outside is amazing. Well done.
I think the insulation Nina is thinking of is Kingspan, but I used to use loft insulation held in place by ply wood or hardboard and paint that white for brightness. It was a lot cheaper.
Lin

MiriPiri
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Re: Night box design.

Post by MiriPiri » 23 Apr 2022, 10:43

Hi, thank you for your encouraging words. TBH it’s cost me a ridiculous amount of money. I moved to Scotland with no furniture, appliances etc, but with a tight budget to get what I need. I’ve bought essentials - beds, sofa, fridge etc and have then spent a fortune on Herbella and now have no budget for curtains etc 😂

I’m using Kingspan foam insulation panels with reflective bubble wrap on top and then I’ll run ply around the bottom so Herbella doesn’t trash it. I’ve now put in her chimney pot and am installing a ceramic bulb today. I also have some fab plants that someone sent me that I need to get planted.

I’ve thrown so much time and money into it, but poor Herbella isn’t her usual self. She normally comes out of hibernation fine, but this time she’s just not thriving like she normally does. She’s been to the loo fine and had lots of baths, is moving about fine, but is only nibbling at her food. Anyway, she’s booked into the vets on Tuesday. I think moving to Scotland and me not getting fully on top of temperature control when I’ve first moved up has taken it’s toll. It must also be stressful waking up in a completely different environment even if it is better than her previous home. I do feel suitably guilty that I didn’t get on top of things. I was just juggling too much.

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Nina
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Re: Night box design.

Post by Nina » 23 Apr 2022, 11:26

Gosh, you've really had a lot on your plate! You're definitely doing Herbella proud, but you should now turn your attention to yourself and get comfortable and settled in your new home.

Regarding appetite -- temperature can have a big effect on that. What is the temperature directly below her heat lamp and at the height of her shell? You ideally want it to be 30C under the lamp and then 20C in cooler areas (and it can go below that at the far end of her shed, as long as she has a 30C area to bask in. On the other hand, if temperatures, etc. are OK, then you are probably right and she is just settling in.

Is the vet you're going to see an exotics vet? It's really important with vets that they be trained to treat 'exotics' (birds, fish, reptiles), etc. as ordinary vets don't have much training in this area and they have been known to make mistakes or prescribe the wrong medicine (I can give examples). We do have a list of vets on our website, organised by county/or area here:
https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tor ... mPTTdPMIqQ I can see that we have five listed in Scotland, but if none of them are near to you, and your vet doesn't have 'exotics' qualifications, let me know and I'll see if I can find one for you.

I think you deserve a little treat. Would you like a complimentary copy of our Tortoise Observation Records Booklet? It's just a little booklet where you can keep all of Herbella's records in one place (growth, changes of equipment, vet details, hibernation records, etc.). If you send your name and address to me at nina@thetortoisetable.org.uk (and maybe copy it to nina_curtis@hotmail.com because we have been having trouble with our email server today), I'll pop one in the post to you.

Nina

MiriPiri
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Re: Night box design.

Post by MiriPiri » 23 Apr 2022, 11:53

Hi

The appointment is with the vet that specialises in exotics, but whether he is qualified in exotics I don’t honestly know. I can’t put Herbella through the stress of a 2hr drive to get to a specialist though and then 2hrs back again. Hopefully he knows his stuff. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’ll check the UV bulbs temp now. I have it on 7am to 12pm and 3pm to 7pm although it’s a bit of a waste as she stays out most of the time.

Thank you for the offer of the book. I’ll email you.

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Nina
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Re: Night box design.

Post by Nina » 23 Apr 2022, 12:26

If he specialises in exotics then he is probably fine -- and I hope your appointment goes well. You might find that if the temperature is a little on the cool side, and you can lower your lamp a bit to get the temperature up, then she might have more of an appetite.

Good luck!

Nina

MiriPiri
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Joined: 05 Feb 2022, 10:23

Re: Night box design.

Post by MiriPiri » 23 Apr 2022, 13:30

Hi

The UV lamp is at 33.1c. Should I raise it?

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Nina
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Re: Night box design.

Post by Nina » 23 Apr 2022, 15:05

Are you measuring it directly under the lamp and at the height of her shell? If so then it's fine, as she has a large area in that shed and she will be able to walk away from the lamp when she wants to cool down. You'll find that if the general temperature in the shed is warmer (on sunny days) then you will have to raise the lamp to keep it getting too hot, and in the same way that you will have to lower it to make it warmer when it's cold in the shed. I see you've got it hanging from a chain,which is great as that makes it easy to raise and lower as you need it.

Nina

MiriPiri
Posts: 33
Joined: 05 Feb 2022, 10:23

Re: Night box design.

Post by MiriPiri » 23 Apr 2022, 16:52

Hi, I did it at shell height. She often lies to the edge of the heat if it’s too much for her. I’d rather too hot then too cold, but had never thought of adjusting it as necessary.

MiriPiri
Posts: 33
Joined: 05 Feb 2022, 10:23

Re: Night box design.

Post by MiriPiri » 26 Apr 2022, 17:27

Here’s an update photo of Herbella’s house. I just have 4 bits of insulation to do and then run some boarding around the bottom so she doesn’t trash the insulation. She has a UV bulb on a timer and a ceramic bulb on a dimmer thermostat with the probe just below soil level under the bulb. There’s also a thermometer probe so I can keep an eye on max/min temp.

Herbella saw the vet today and she was given a laxative and pain killer in case she has an impaction. If she loses more than 100g he wants to see her again. He said to keep doing what I’m doing i.e. feeding, baths, bringing her in if she’s got too cold outside. He’s not a qualified reptile vet, but has an interest in them and one of the nurses has a tortoise. Herbella is bright enough, but just not her normal self. She has eaten better today so maybe I’m worrying too much. I’d be grateful for your advice too please.
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MiriPiri
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Re: Night box design.

Post by MiriPiri » 04 May 2022, 20:40

The day after seeing the vet Herbella perked up and is now back to her normal self. Phew!

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Nina
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Re: Night box design.

Post by Nina » 04 May 2022, 22:41

Oh my goodness -- I somehow missed your post of 23 April -- I never got a notification of it -- so really sorry!

I am so glad that Herbella has perked up (whew)! And I think your tweaks to the set-up look absolutely brilliant -- it really is a lovely space for her.

Is there a reason why the probe for the dimmer is buried just below the surface of the soil, rather than hanging in the air, at the height of her shell? If it is easier and more practical to do that then I think it's OK, but the soil can heat up and retain some heat but the air temperature where she is standing might be cooler than that (although as you have a thermometer anyway, you will always know what the air temperature is, so that's fine and if it is working for you then I wouldn't change it).

You must be so relieved that she has finally perked up, and long may that continue!

Nina

MiriPiri
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Joined: 05 Feb 2022, 10:23

Re: Night box design.

Post by MiriPiri » 08 May 2022, 20:05

Hi, there’s absolutely no reason why I put the probes at soil level and I can’t even explain my reasoning 😂 It was possibly worrying about her getting tangled in the wire and I just thought they needed to be at soil level. Having them suspended and hanging at shell height is so much safer and more sensible. I’ll tweak it in the next few weeks.

Here’s a photo of her surveying her kingdom. She sits there for about 15mins every morning before finally stomping out to do a boundary check.
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Nina
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Re: Night box design.

Post by Nina » 08 May 2022, 20:56

What a wonderful photo -- she certainly is queen of all she surveys (and long may she reign)!

Nina
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