Outdoor enclosure

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Tarajane77
Posts: 42
Joined: 26 Jun 2020, 20:26

Outdoor enclosure

Post by Tarajane77 » 22 Mar 2021, 21:36

Hey lovely people,

I spoke to Nina recently about how i am having a outdoor enclosure built for the summer. It's for my beloved Horsfield Jemima, and my builder is constructing it by digging wood panels deep into the ground and using a wood frame for a lid.

I just need a little reassurance AGAIN about my intended enclosure base. When i was vetting the area i noticed there was some dreaded ragwort in the area in which i intend to build. There is no other option position wise so here is my proposition;

I'm going to dig down at the least 3x my tortoises height on her tippy toes and place wire at the very bottom. Then I've bought a sack of aggregate for drainage what's going directly on top of the wire. Then I'm packing the soil back on top, then weed membrane, then heavy duty pond liner which will fold up onto the enclosures sides. ( when i say "i" for all this labour i really mean the builder🤣).


So any feedback is greatly appreciated and any air of doubt please shout up.....my tortoise is EVERYTHING to me.
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Thankyou Jody from Wirksworth[attachment=0]20210322_212902.jpg[/attachment]
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Jody K

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Nina
Posts: 1519
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Outdoor enclosure

Post by Nina » 22 Mar 2021, 22:28

Hi Jody,

Super to hear from you, and I'm so glad that you are building the gorgeous Jemima an outdoor enclosure.

Oh dear, Ragwort is something to be worried about. Weeds are very clever organisms, and will surprise you with how tenacious they can be, but your plans certainly seem designed to stop it reappearing. The wire at the bottom of the enclosure will also prevent Jemima from digging down too deep and disappearing too.

The only thing I'm concerned about is the pond liner. I might have misunderstood your plans, but won't that stop water from draining down and out when it rains? And you can't tell me that it is always sunny in Derbyshire, because I've been in Wirksworth in the rain. :D

I once built a tortoise enclosure on top of a patio that was made out of concrete slabs. It was a rented accommodation and I couldn't remove the slabs so I built a wall of bricks around it and dumped about 8" of topsoil on it. A made a nice little hill in the middle for Doris to climb on and survey her kingdom. One day we had a torrential rain storm. I forgot that Doris was still outside until about 10 minutes after it had been raining, and I rushed outside to find the whole enclosure about 6" deep in water, with poor little Doris on the 2 or 3 square inches on top of her hill, just managing to stay above the rising waters. I had forgot that there was no way for that water to drain out, and i'm wondering if your pond liner could have the same effect.

The other thing to remember with the enclosure is how well tortoises can climb. If you are having wood walls then nail a little 1 x 2 or something on the top, to form a little lip that projects inwards and inch or so. That way if she finds something to climb up (and walls at right angles are always a useful way for them to make the great escape), she will come against that protruding lip and won't be able to go any further. I recently posted these photos on another thread, but thought i might post them here as well, because it's always amazing to see how well they climb. If you are having a wooden lid on it, then there's no need for a lip, but do make the lid on hinges so that it can be easy for you to get in and out. And make sure too that whatever you are using for the lid covering still lets in lots of natural sunlight so she gets lots of UVB.

Untreated wood in the ground will probably rot in three or four years, but you can replace it or treat it with something to preserve it. I'm lazy and use tall log roll, and that certainly does rot after a few years, but it's so cheap and easy to replace that I don't bother doing it better. Your enclosure will be much posher than mine!

The only other thing I can think of is to make the enclosure as big as your space will allow, as tortoises do like lots of room and things to keep them interested, and knowing you, I'm sure it will be a great enclosure!

Nina
[attachment=1]Tortoise climbing fence.jpg[/attachment][attachment=0]Tortoise climbing wall.jpg[/attachment]
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Tarajane77
Posts: 42
Joined: 26 Jun 2020, 20:26

Re: Outdoor enclosure

Post by Tarajane77 » 23 Mar 2021, 10:01

Hey Nina,

YES, pond liner will counteract all my drainage plans....how silly of me!!

I will mention the tall log roll to my builder......BUT would some type of metal sheeting work instead or would it conduct heat too much??

Also is there anything else now the pond liners a NO-GO, aside the weed membrane to prevent any ragwort appearing?? You know i fret over my shelled princess!!

Thankyou for your time and all your other suggestions, I've taken them on board.

Jody from Wirksworth
Jody K

Tarajane77
Posts: 42
Joined: 26 Jun 2020, 20:26

Re: Outdoor enclosure

Post by Tarajane77 » 23 Mar 2021, 10:08

Thankyou Nina,

how daft of me, of course the pond liner will contradict my drainage plans!!

All your suggestions are taken on board and are gratefully received.

2 questions though,

1. Could metal sheeting replace the wood or could this conduct too much heat??

2. Now the pond liner isn't needed, is there any other steps you'd recommend to ward off the dreaded Ragwort??

Many thanks
Jody from Wirksworth
Jody K

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Nina
Posts: 1519
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Outdoor enclosure

Post by Nina » 23 Mar 2021, 13:24

Hi Jody,

I think that metal sheeting should work fine, and it would be much more difficult to climb too. It will of course get warm in the sun, but I doubt if that is going to cause much of a problem. Will part of the enclosure be in the shade for part of the day?

If you did use log roll, I've discovered that it is better to put the nice side of it facing inwards. I had the nice side facing outwards for a while and then Dolly discovered how to use the two wires that run horizontally along the inside of the log roll (that old it together) as a little ladder to escape. I think they make it in 18" heights, which allows you to bury a good bit into the ground, but it does rot after three or four years.

I'm not sure what else you can use as a barrier for the Ragwort, and if you think about it, the Ragwort is just as likely to appear from seeds that are blown in by the wind from a neighbour's garden or the countryside nearby as it is from seeds already under the surface of the soil. Ragwort produces huge numbers of seeds and wind is the main form of distribution.

Here's a little fact that not many people know :) Oxford Ragwort (Senecio squalidus) is common all over the UK now, but it originated in Oxford, where it was brought as a specimen to the Oxford Botanic Gardens in the 18th century from the slopes of Mount Etna. It escaped from the Gardens and seeded itself around Oxford, but it wasn't until the 19th century that it spread around the country, aided by all of the new railway lines. Seeds were carried on people's shoes, and blew into train carriages through the windows and were then carried up the line until another station where they were carried out on people's clothes. It's a very persistent little plant.

So the moral of that story is that the best action to take is probably to scan the enclosure most days and if you see little Ragwort plants starting, just pull them out -- I'm not sure what else can be done.

Nina

Tarajane77
Posts: 42
Joined: 26 Jun 2020, 20:26

Re: Outdoor enclosure

Post by Tarajane77 » 23 Mar 2021, 16:58

Thankyou Nina,

It's going to be south facing, i believe this is advised?

Oh bless Dolly, how clever...but naughty!!

All your input is jotted down and i will make sure to check the enclosure for ragwort!

I love the ragwort facts, always enjoy stories relating to plants.

Thankyou
Jody K

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