Urgent need of advice please for outside enclosure

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Posts: 4
Joined: 30 Mar 2021, 08:15

Urgent need of advice please for outside enclosure

Post by Quasi » 30 Mar 2021, 09:22

Hello, I am hoping someone would be able to give me some advice about an outside tortoise enclosure I plan to build for my adult Mediterranean Spur thighed.His previous enclosure needed an upgrade so I'm planning the following:
It will have 3 wooden sides with the wall of our house forming the 4th side. Having dug out the soil, we plan to use wooden scaffold boards, decking or sleepers for the sidewalls. I plan to dig concrete gravel boards into the earth (perhaps 6-8") and place the scaffold boards etc on top of the gravel boards. My intention is that this may help prevent the wood rotting and to stop predators getting into the enclosure. I plan to place plastic chicken wire or similar across the bottom of the enclosure and up the sides to prevent anything getting in and the tortoise escaping. I will then lay a layer of gravel over the wire to help with drainage, then replace the soil etc.
The sides will be approx a foot tall (tortoise is 5 inches long) with an overhang and I will have a hinged mesh lid. The tortoise is small and I worry about security. We live in a rural area with foxes and neighbours have chickens - hence the lid and chicken wire.
Does this set up seem ok? Do I treat the wood and if so what with? Also I'm not sure how deep the sides need to be below ground level.
The more I read, the more confused and stressed I get and I think I am making it much more complicated than it needs to be!!
I would very much appreciate your advice and comments.

Thank you very much.

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Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: Urgent need of advice please for outside enclosure

Post by lin » 30 Mar 2021, 12:19

From what I can see this looks like a well thought through outdoor enclosure, and being in a rural area you are right to fear the predators with rats being the number one concern.
Can I just clarify a few things first.

The side against the house. There is not going to be earth touching the house wall, is there? This would cause damp inside the walls of the house.
The plastic chicken wire. How big will the holes be. To keep rats and foxes out this wire needs to be a small half inch x half inch (or smaller) steel wire that is rat proof, on the base of the enclosure. This needs to extend beyond the gravel boards so if anything were to dig under could not gain entrance into the enclosure from underneath. The shingle for drainage can go under or on tip of the wire and that would depend on how far the tortoise would dig down.
To protect any wood that is directly in contact with soil and to use preservatives. The water-based ones are safe and the sleepers will last much longer than scaffold boards and we have never know a tortoise to show any interest in the wooden surrounds anyway.

This really does sound like a great project in the making and if you can - think big, it will save you adding at a later date.

Would love to see photos of in progress work if you have time.


Posts: 4
Joined: 30 Mar 2021, 08:15

Re: Urgent need of advice please for outside enclosure

Post by Quasi » 30 Mar 2021, 18:52

Hello Lin,
Thank you so much for your very quick reply and your very helpful comments which I found reassuring as I was worried I might be heading down the wrong route entirely.
Concerning location - we have had a rethink and will now site the enclosure away from the house so will revert back to having a standard 4 wooden sides construction.
Wire mesh - thanks for your comments particularly about the size. I had read about plastic coated / pvc coated wire mesh and thought this might be ok and this was what I was referring to. However, is galvanised or stainless steel better or does it not matter? I suppose it's the size of the mesh that's the most important.
To clarify - when you say the mesh should go beyond the gravel boards, do you mean below the gravel boards? I am also planning to run the mesh up the wooden sides for a couple of inches or so.
Do you have any advice as to how deep we should dig down for the bottom of the enclosure and gravel boards?

Many thanks once again.

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