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Creating the Ideal Outdoor Tortoise Enclosure: A Guide for Tortoise Keepers


As tortoise keepers, our goal is to replicate the wild environment as closely as possible while enhancing the less-than-ideal seasons and safeguarding our shelled friends from predators. To achieve this, innovative methods have been developed, ranging from brick-built raised beds with a wire mess as a cover for protection, to garden runs with greenhouse access. The design and location of your tortoise haven will depend on your garden's layout and aspects - a sunny and secure spot is paramount.

If you have a completely secure garden and I do mean tortoise-proof. No gaps, loose wood or walls that can be climbed. This may be the most ideal solution for your tortoise so long as you do not have a dog. Your dog may be a gentle loveable pet but a tortoise shell is like a bone for a dog. It only takes your beloved dog to get a toothache and it will naturally want to chew, I'll say no more.

In the wild, tortoises can wander for miles, your tortoise needs plenty of space to lead a happy healthy life!


When constructing the side of any Tortoise enclosure, remember that tortoises see transparent sides as an invitation to escape, there is no boundary line for a tortoise, so opt for materials they cannot see through. A vivarium should never be used to house a tortoise. (These are for turtles) And steer clear of mesh for the wall of an enclosure or table, tortoises use this as an invitation to climb out.


Access to the great outdoors is non-negotiable for every tortoise. There is no such thing as an indoor tortoise. Baby tortoises should bask outside whenever the weather permits, even on overcast days, as they require UV light to metabolise their food properly—UV rays don't penetrate glass or plastic. They’re quite resilient and can handle rainy days, provided they have a warm, covered area to retreat to, though they truly thrive on sunny days.


Minimising stress is crucial for their well-being. A well-prepared, secure outdoor area with plenty of sunshine, complete with rocks, gravel, and soil, and planted with edible plants and sheltering shrubs, will keep them content. A cosy house and a shallow water plate for full-body wading are a must.


To protect your tortoises from curious predators like dogs, cats, foxes, or large birds, cover their habitat with a light mesh that minimises shadow—They must have a shaded area for their comfort.


A raised habitat ensures more security, ease of maintenance, and better sun exposure.


During summer nights, your tortoises can safely stay outside in a wooden house but ensure they are always protected from the rain and nocturnal predators.


In summary - Tortoise Hotel Recommendations:


Pick a part of the garden which has the sun from early morning to late into the day.


Solid sides: Minimum 15 inches high

Overall Size: Minimum 9Ft x 4ft, larger the better

Cover: A dry shelter for when it rains and a hide, house, scrape for them to stay warm and dry. Cover with a mesh lid to keep predators like foxes and birds out. Rats could potentially pose a problem, but rats can fit through a hole the size of a 2pence piece and mice can fit through the size of a pencil top, our advice would be to not leave food in the enclosure overnight.

Tortoises can stay out overnight when temperatures are over 15 degrees.


By considering these points and tailoring your tortoise's environment to their natural needs, you'll create a sanctuary that allows them to live as they would in the wild—happy, healthy, and secure.


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