Hi :D, My names Colleen and I have a almost 5 year old Russian Tortoise. I recently got a new dog and he’s a little crazy so I cant let my tortoise out to run around the floor. He needs a bigger home and me and my mom have been looking around for one lately. We live in NJ so it’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer so we cant really have a house outside. What can I do? Thanks, Colleen :D

(found this pic online. not mine)

So you have a few options as far as enclosures go. if you have the ability, there are a few pretty decent enclosures out there that you can buy ready made. 

The Repti Palace, new on the market, is one that has a pretty great set up for russians and similar sized breeds. I will say, however, its incredibly expensive and not as big as it should be for longterm housing with no outdoor time. 

Check it out here: http://www.amazon.com/Tortoise-Palace-Black-Frame-Terrarium/dp/B0070RYV42

I’d say if you’re at all comfortable with an electric screw driver and some wood, or any interest in DIY/ furniture hacking, you can create a much better enclosure for your tort (for much less money! )

One of the best ideas I’ve seen is turning a bookcase into a tortoise table. 

A bookcase hack (a brief explanation) 

Get yourself a bookcase, new or even try craigslist and goodwill. Remove the center shelves (or don’t install them either way). You can either use bathtub calking to seal it before lining it with a tarp, or even better try lining the whole thing with vinyl flooring. Linoleum style roll of flouring can be cheap, found in scraps, and its a secure way of sealing the whole thing.

From there you can get creative. You can use one of the shelves to create a hide at one end. Cut a hole in the shelf wide enough for your tort to crawl in and then use one of the extra shelves with hinges as the top of the hide. that way you can clean out the hide easily.

The big issue with this (and a lot of the inexpensive DIY ideas I’ve tried) is that they generally sit directly on the floor. In order to put them up higher you’ll have to make sure the bottom is extra secure.  That means target bookshelf won’t work since the back (what will be the bottom) is pretty much a big piece of cardboard. You can either replace that with some wood you find at a hardware store and then set the whole thing on a “stand” (try some end tables at matching heights). 

You’ll want to have a top for your enclosure (since you’re making sure the pup doesn’t get in there and your little shell friend doesn’t get out). Screens are pretty easy to get ahold of at the hardware store. Depending on the size you might even find an old screen door frame can be used as a top thats easy to open. 

Heres a pretty good how to guide for bookshelf hacks: http://red-footed-tortoise.com/red-footed-tortoise-tortoise-table.html This is for a red footed tortoise not a russian so don’t go by the care guidelines, just a good schematic for building the enclosure. 

Lighting stands can be easily made out of PVC pipes or even some plywood nailed together. 

Wire cube hack enclosure:

like this:http://www.walmart.com/ip/Whitmor-White-Wire-Storage-Cubes-Four-Cubes-Interlocked/5005200

Im on a strict budget and am in a very oddly shaped studio apartment so I couldn’t figure out a way to get a bookshelf to work. I used those wire cube units you can buy pretty much anywhere. the kind that snap together at the ends with the circles? 

This worked better for me because I was having the enclosure on the floor, wanted her to have as much space as possible, but couldn’t fit a singular bookshelf in the right place. These shelves allowed me to make an enclosure that spanned two walls and could be wider or thinner in spots they needed to be. 

I’ll tell you its a big pain in the ass to clean. I lined the whole thing with two shower curtain liners and then used linoleum tiles along the sides. Its not mobile in any way, since the substrate weighs down through the wire shelves. Add enough substrate, however, and some vertical hides and it does the job nicely. If I ever have the chance, however, I’ll definitely be building her a more secure, mobile enclosure (mobile in that I can clean it and take it apart and rebuild it easily). 

Elevated Hides add Space too! 

Whatever idea you decide to go with, don’t forget you can add up as well as out. Build a box out of some wood, find a box at Michael’s that fits the corner, create a nice ramp, and your tort will happily climb up and in once they decide to do some exploring. 

I had a few pieces of wood and some picture frames that were more wood than hole. I nailed them into a box, found some table legs at home depot, attached them to a drainage run off you can find in the garden section, and bam. Up stairs castle for zoya. It adds space and character to any enclosure. I even gave her a castle top and a Z to mark it as hers. The outside is painted but not the inside as I don’t want her to come in contact with the paint, scratch it off, bite it, or whatever and accidentally ingest it. She’s a big fan of it, though sometimes she just likes to climb it, look around at the world, climb back down and start over. 

I would check out this link for inspiration if you’re thinking of constructing/ creating your own. 

Take some time to look at these pics. There are some fantastic ideas here:

A collection of DIY enclosures by other russian tortoise owners:


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