A border height of 40 centimeters (15.7 inches) is good. They can be very talented escape artists so good materials are concrete block, wood, tennis court fencing or brick.
Bricks and block such as cinder block, cement block, concrete and red brick work great. Place them several inches below the surface. Make sure the blocks do not fall down by connecting them with cement. You can also fill cinder blocks or any other type that has a gap in between with dirt.
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Wood is one of the easiest ways because you can place it a few inches deep, hold it up with stakes and you’re done. The drawback is that it can rot and is more upkeep. It can also soak up and hold water, which produces humidity and is not good for their respiratory systems. That is why you must seal and finish the wood so it does not take in water and rot.
Tennis court fencing is another excellent option. It will last the life of your tortoise and has small openings so baby tortoises will not fit through. The only drawback is that the border is see-though so you can buy plastic strips that are made specifically for these fences.
Horsefields are known to wedge themselves between two corners and flip over the other side and dig below the border. Make sure there is a solid foundation along the boarder and impossible for them to dig under completely like a tunnel or dig just enough to prop the border up. A solid color that they cannot see out of helps them from walking along the perimeters and trying to go through. It is good to prevent any possible escape below the dirt. Options:
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- Make the boarder too heavy for them to wedge their shell between like concrete block or brick. Light wood sometimes allows their escape and can rot/weaken.
- Barry boarder several inches below surface.
- Lay a metal wiring 7.5 cm (3 inches) below the surface throughout the entire pen and fasten securely to the border.
With indoor housing you have a few different options than with outdoor yet the same principles apply. We want to have non-see through walls. There are several options that work great.
- Large plastic containers– in stores you can find large sweater boxes and under-the-bed containers that work well. This is quick and easy but the walls can be clear so you can use tape or paint the outside. Look for solid color containers. Also, make sure the border height is at least 40 centimeters (15.7 inches) for adults because these containers can be short sometimes.
- Ready made kits– these are a great fast solution to housing. One popular type is called a tortoise table. They don’t give the biggest space but if your living situation is on the smaller side then these will work well. Some have partly clear walls. Watch your tortoise and after the initial settling of his new home, if he continues to constantly try to walk through the glass section then use tape or paint on the outside. You can come up with your own solutions as well if these two options for covering up the glass do not suit you. This behavior depends on each individual pet, as they all have their different personalities and many will not have a problem with the glass. But you do not want your tortoise to endlessly try to go through the clear wall and in that case you must make the wall non-visible.
Wood– the third option is to use wood for your housing. Plastic, glass and wood are all great options for indoor housing. Wood housing has worked great for many owners out there. One negative with wood is that it is possible for it to rot due to the chance of it holding moisture. Most of this concern is with outdoor housing since it is exposed more to the elements. You are pretty safe using wood indoors if you stay within these guidelines. It is important to treat the wood to repel water and keep it as waterproof as possible. This Mediterranean tortoise requires a lower level of humidity than its friends, the tropical tortoises. Over time
water can seep into the wood. This causes the wood to hold more moisture and raises the humidity level and also rots the wood. This also means the housing requires more maintenance! If you go this route use 19 mm (¾ inch) hardwood such as oak, plywood, veneer or pine. Stay away from any softer wood like particle-board. If the wood has not been treated you will need to add a protective layer to it in order to lock out moisture. The best way to go about this is to use a veneer, laminate, or liquid coating like paint or plastic. It is a lot of fun to be involved with making the house if you have the skills to build it yourself. If not, there are plenty of ready build “tortoise tables” available in the marketplace.