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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-24-2007, 05:33 PM Thread Starter
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i have heard different things about housing tortoises. I have heard from many different sources that aquariums are no good. But also aquariums can be pricey. i was wandering if there are any other alternative plans that might be cheaper and a little more fun for a new home for your tortoise. specifically the russian tortoise.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-01-2007, 08:59 AM
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If indoor housing is your only option, you must decide how big the enclosure will be. The size will be determined mainly by the length of your tortoise. Measure your tortoise across the plastron and multiply his length by a factor of ten. This will equal the suggested appropriate length of an enclosure for a tortoise of his size. For the width of the enclosure, multiply your tortoise’s length by five. For the height of the enclosure, multiply his length by three. This will give you a rough idea of the appropriate size of an enclosure for your tortoise.

Your tortoise’s cage can be made out of glass or plastic. A glass enclosure can be harmful to some tortoises, as they may keep attempting to walk through the glass wall. If this is the case, try running a dark border around the bottom 4 of 5 inches of the enclosure, using colored tape or paint. Glass cages will also retain heat, so temperature must be closely monitored at all times. Plastic cages can be made out of plastic boxes (sweater boxes, shoe boxes, storage boxes). These enclosures tend to be the most popular because they are inexpensive and readily available. Both glass and plastic cages are waterproof, which will make them fairly easy to clean.

The bottom of every cage should include a substrate, which can be made out of newspaper, sand, soil, gravel, pine bark mulch, aspen bedding, or a variety of other things. A Russian tortoise’s habitat should also include rocks, logs, and tunnels for him to climb on, under, or in. Every cage should also contain a water bowl. Change your tortoise’s water often, as it will dirty quickly.

Two additional factors need to be considered when creating an indoor habitat for your Russian tortoise: heating and lighting. Tortoises use the range of temperatures in their habitat to maintain their bodily functions and metabolism, which is why a temperature gradient is required for all tortoises kept in captivity. Heating can be provided through an overhead heat source or an underneath heat source. Either way, place the heat source at one end of the enclosure to ensure a heat gradient throughout the rest of the cage.

Lighting not only provides a means of observing your pet in action, but it also provides cues for his behavior. Some bulbs can also provide ultraviolet light, which is essential for the metabolism of calcium. The lighting in your Russian tortoise’s tank should be on a 12-hour cycle to provide as natural a habitat as possible. It can be mounted over the enclosure using either wooden studs or PVC tubing.

If you decide to house your Russian tortoise outdoors, you will have the basic components of an indoor enclosure, with the added consideration of plants. First of all, you must decide what size your enclosure will be. It should neither be too small nor too big, as if an enclosure is too big, it will be difficult to keep track of your tortoise. An area that is 6 feet by 10 feet is a good size for housing one to six Russian tortoises. Then, decide where to put the enclosure. Choose an area that receives plenty of sunlight, is generally dry, and has good drainage.

To begin constructing the enclosure, you will need to build the barriers. These can be made of a variety of materials, including wood, brick, or chain-link fencing. Whatever material you choose, keep in mind that it must be weather resistant and not hazardous to your pet. The idea is to create a wall that your tortoise will be unable to climb over or to dig under. Russian tortoises are escape artists and their climbing and digging abilities are not to be underestimated. When building the barriers, dig them several inches into the ground and make sure they extend at least 16 inches above ground level.

Outdoor enclosures must include a shelter that will allow your tortoise to hide from the elements when necessary. It should be dry and well drained, as tortoises cannot tolerate cool and damp conditions. The shelter can be just a wooden or plastic box, or something that looks like a small house. In regions where temperatures drop below 50°F, supplemental heating will be necessary in the shelter. You should also line the inside of the shelter with a soft substrate, such as hay.

Whether your tortoise is housed inside or outside, it is important to clean his enclosure on a regular basis. If you are using newspaper as a substrate, you should change the paper every day or so. If you are using a more natural substrate, you can spot-clean every day and do a more thorough cleaning when necessary. In particular, your Russian tortoise’s water supply should be changed as often as possible.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-01-2007, 09:40 PM
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How big is your tortoise?

If he is a hatchling, his enclosure should be relatively small to begin with, and grow as he grows.

Are you more concerned with the animal's comfort than looks? How much space do you have to give he little guy? At one time, I had half a room set up for two Russians to inhabit during the winter. They need a good deal of space as they get older. I'd never use an aquarium just because of the cost compared to the size of enclosure you get for the money.


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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-26-2007, 10:50 AM
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I have 2 horsfields which are about 18 months so still small, i built them a tortoise table, put a thick layer of repti-turf in the bottom, a tile under their light, a huge water dish and a log hide. They have a heat mat at night. I also use a thermostat to dim the light if the enclosure gets too warm, the black wire in the pic is the thermomiter that reads the temp of the substrate and dims the light if needed.
They have a normal 100 watt heat lamp and a UVB strip light that is attached to one of the short sides of the table.
I wouldnt recomend keeping tortoises in a glass enclosure, tank or viv as the humidity can cause health problems. Tortoises are used to been kept in a dry and warm climate. Building a tortoise table from wood means that they dont walk into the sides, they dont have problems with humidity and they have plenty of air flow.

Heres where i got the instructions to make mine - Carlisle Tortoises
You can alter it to make it bigger if you like. All in all for one the same as that link it cost me $36 just to make the enclosure. The other stuff like lights, bowls etc were extra cost.

and heres a picture of the finished product

Its also an idea to make a outdoor enclosure for the warmer summer months their is no better light than the sun. Just make sure that if you do make an outdoor enclosure that you dig it into the ground so they dont dig under and escape and make it high enough so they cant climb over, it also needs to be covered from predators.

Last edited by Claireo; 06-26-2007 at 10:56 AM.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-26-2007, 12:33 PM
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Thanks for the link! I'm getting tortoises in the fall,so I now know how to build an enclosure
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-26-2007, 12:34 PM
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The Russian Tortoise is a good site also.

There is a forum on there too, if you have specific tortoise/turtle questions.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-26-2007, 12:39 PM
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Thanks Amber
That is another great site =]
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-15-2008, 04:34 PM
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these guys look wonderful I just checked out the link that posted up here and I love that these guys look like they can be kept pretty easily in large rubermaid that was really exactly what I was looking for in a type of tortoise to get but I am wondering are these guys legal in the united states or if not is there any other turtles around this size that are. I would love to eventually get into keep one or two of these guys....but I want to do as much research as need be before hand. So any help would be great thanks.
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