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Secure Night Enclosure

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predator proof nigh cage for tortoises, Lucky Dog Animal House

Night time protection cage for a small group of Golden Greek tortoises.

Predator protection for nights

I have purchased modular, welded steel panels with 1" x 1" openings in the past, but that company has closed its doors. I have been searching for other low height kennel panels to build my predator protection cages for nights. These modular Animal House panels fit my purpose well.

The Lucky Dog "Animal House" series is a modular caging system by Jewett-Cameron that can be used to build expandable outdoor cages for tortoises. These welded steel panels are modular and can be attached together in endless ways to create strong, protective pens or pen covers in all shapes and sizes, from small to large and low to tall.

Animal House wall panels and gate doors are available in 60" x 30" and 30" x 30" sizes. The standard heavy duty panels have 2" x 2" wire openings and the ultra heavy duty panels have 3" x 3/4" openings.

These panels are new to the 2015-16 market. As of this writing in March 2016, Amazon has over a dozen different Animal House kits for sale with free shipping. For example, the standard heavy duty 120" x 60" x 30" kit (model AH 51204) or the ultra heavy duty 120" x 60" x 30" kit (model AH 71404) would make a great night security cage for smaller tortoises. Both are 120" x 60" in size and 30" in height.

predator proof outdoor night cage for small tortoises, Lucky Dog Animal House

I leave the tortoise house door open at night to allow the Greeks to enter and exit the house freely and move within the caged area. Some like to spend the night in the house while others prefer to dig into the soil. During the day, the cage gate is always open so that tortoises can use the full outdoor enclosure area.

predator proof night protection cage for tortoises, Lucky Dog Animal House

For this small night cage, I used 2 large gate panels (60" x 30") on top for full access and 1 small gate panel (30" x 30") in the front. Each gate panel has 2 latches, one at each end.

For size reference, one Greek tortoise is sunning himself on the concrete blocks behind the front cage door.

Animal House heavy duty panels

I used the ultra heavy duty panels instead of the standard strength panels because the mesh openings are smaller. These panels are super strong against any bigger predators like large dogs.

When these panels are attached, there's a small gap (pic below) between the panel frames to accommodate the connecting clamps. Tiny animals, like baby mice or thin snakes, could possible creep though the openings. For best security, you can cover the panels and panel edge openings with 1/4" or 1/2" wire mesh to prevent any tiny rodents passing through.

edge blocks

To secure the cage sides I use either thick retaining wall blocks (right) or thinner patio blocks (left). You can increase security by burying a couple of layers of blocks into the soil or placing two rows of blocks side by side. You could also attach wire panels or hardware cloth to the floor.

Greek tortoises are diggers, but mine haven't tried to tunnel under these blocks, so they are mostly to keep predators out. I check the block perimeter every day for any possible breaches while attending to my tortoises.

Lucky Dog Animal House night protectioncage

During the winter, I cover the whole cage with a tarp or a large piece of plastic. This keeps the cage area dry during rains. The small, insulated night house is heated with a reptile radiant heat panel controlled by a thermostat.

Our winters are mild with little rain, so this setup works well for me. If you live in a colder climate with below freezing temperatures, you'll need better insulation.

 

Related pages:outdoor pens, outdoor houses

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