Star Tortoise Garden @ StarTortoises.net
Star Tortoise Garden @ StarTortoises.net

Tortoise Houses p.2

More easy houses

I am not a DIY person or a builder, so I am always looking for easy-to-modify products to use with my tortoises. Here are two more examples of easy tortoise houses.

Insulated wood house

I use this wooden, medium-size dog house for some of my adult Burmese star tortoises as a heated outdoor night box during the spring, summer, and fall. During heavy rains, I place a tarp or a strong piece of plastic over the house for extra water protection.

As of this writing, these ready-made insulated (yeah !!!) dog houses are sold by several sellers under different brand names including Aivituvin, Gutinneen, and Medehoo. I bought my house from Amazon under the brand name Aivituvin. It was shipped flat packed and arrived in perfect condition. Assembly was easy.

The house roof opens for easy access and the door has plastic flaps. Best of all, the house is already insulated! All panels and roof are triple layer construction. Outer and inner walls are made of wood with styrofoam insulation boards in the middle.

I attached an 80W reptile radiant heat panel to the ceiling. It keeps this insulated house warm and toasty when the door is closed at night.

For colder months you may want to add a second, or even third, insulation layer to the house. For example, attach some reflective bubble insulation all over the inside with aluminum foil tape or secure staples. Additionally, you can place foam boards under the bubble layer for triple insulation.

I utilize same style, but smaller smaller, flat roof dog houses for some of my Greek tortoises. They have been in use for many years and are holding up well. See tortoise houses p.1.

Update 2023: The new CozyCube dog house by Aussie Dog kennels / Farm & Yard is another ready-made, insulated dog house. It's made with UV resistant, commercial grade 2" thick insulated coldroom panels and is available in two sizes. Ships flat packed.

insulated and heated tortoise house

Insulated and heated tortoise house that I use for some of my Burmese stars. This was the first wooden dog house of this style (flat roof that opens) I found for sale with built-in insulation. Plastic door flaps and roof support hinges were included. It was shipped flat and was very easy to assemble.

Placeholder Picture

To waterproof the interior (think tortoise pee and poop), I placed a jumbo sized 50 gallon Sterilite storage tote inside the house and cut a hole for the door. Sterilite plastic boxes are made of FDA approved polypropylene and are PVC-free, latex-free, BPA-free, and phthalate-free.

I can easily add foam insulation boards or bubble insulation between the tub and the house for extra warmth if needed. Adding 2-3 layers of insulation boards on the floor under the plastic tote would be especially helpful during colder months.

insulated and heated tortoise night house / box

The floor area is 38x21 inches. The Sterilite box is a little bit smaller than the house, so I lost few inches of the floor space, but the house is still quite roomy. Here's a fully grown female Burmese star tortoise inside the box for size reference.

insulated and heated tortoise house

For heat, I attached an 80W reptile radiant heat panel to one side of the ceiling. The door end of the house is unheated to create a slightly cooler area. At first, I attached the heat panel with the screws that came with it, but because the roof has an inner foam insulation layer, those screws didn't hold the panel up well. I ended up using bolts, nuts, and washers for extra secure attachment. Now I don't have to worry about the heater falling on my tortoises.

A wire basket on metal hooks holds the thermostat for the heater and keeps it away from the tortoises and safe from the weather. You can also use a hound heater (dog house heater) like the 300W Akoma heater. Kane heat mats (for piglets) and/or reptile radiant heat panels can also be added to the walls if more heat is needed. I do not use any kind of heat mats on the floor.

insulated and heated tortoise house

I created a simple door for the house by ziptying two metal wire panels together and then covering them with bubble insulation. I place the door panel between the tub and the house wall where it stays snugly in place. This was supposed to be a temporary solution, but the door works so well that I may just leave it as it is.

Jumbo plastic house

Lifetime dog houses are a new product for 2022. They are large and sturdy heavy-duty plastic houses. Lifetime house is made of non-toxic HDPE. Being plastic it is waterproof and easy to clean. The house also looks good and the gray color blends in well in my tortoise garden.

They are shipped flat in a large box and assembled by the user. Assembly takes some time, but is not difficult. I bought my Lifetime Deluxe Dog House from Amazon with free shipping.

This hefty, waterproof dog house makes an excellent framework to create a heated tortoise night box inside it. The Lifetime house is fairly tall (32-34 inches) so you will be heating a lot of air above the tortoises as is. To remedy this, you can create a removable, false ceiling to lower the height or build an insulated box inside it.

The house is not insulated, but the double walls are very sturdy. The kit includes a metal heater mount bracket to easily and safely install a hound heater. I am currently using the 300W Akoma hound heater with a built-in thermostat and a fan to circulate air inside the dog house. In the near future, I will probably switch to using several reptile radiant heat panels on the walls instead. 

The house is really roomy. The floor area is 43x32 inches. I am using it as the night box for some of my adult male Burmese star tortoises. During warmer months, the hound heater keeps this house warm and cozy at night. For colder months, you have to add insulation and plug all the small air holes between the plastic panels.

plastic night box for tortoises

Lifetime dog house made of heavy-duty, double-walled plastic panels. I am using it as a heated night box for some of my Burmese star tortoises during the spring, summer, and fall.

The front door has a 5" step that you can saw off to level the door opening with the floor. I did that with the inside divider wall step (scroll down for pic). Or you can simply use a door ramp.

heated night house for Burmese star tortoises

Lifetime dog house is very roomy. The black triangle is a corner piece (end cap) for a 6" high curb ramp. My tortoises use it as a ramp over the 5 inch high doorway. Because it's made of rubber (think fumes), I remove it from the house whenever the door is closed and there is no ventilation. A group of my adult male Burmese star tortoises use it as their night box during the warmer months.

heated nighthouse for tortoises

I've used two different ramps on the inside of the Lifetime dog house. To make the green ramp (right) I ziptied small wire panels together and then covered them with reptile mats for traction. Unfortunately, this panel ramp didn't work too well because it's very light weight and the tortoises kept on pushing themselves under it making the ramp unusable. However, these small animal wire panels are useful for tons of other stuff, for example, as protection cages for plants in tortoise pens or as baby tortoise outdoor pens for short outings. See an example of the latter on the angulate hatchlings page.

Then I switched to the rubber ramp (left). It is an end cap piece of a 6" curb ramp. It is very heavy, sturdy, and stays in place. This ramp works really well, but because new rubber items always have a strong odor, I remove it from the house when I close the door at night.

akoma hound heater in an outdoor tortoise house

Lifetime dog house kit includes a metal wall plate for the heater (not included). I am using the 300W Akoma hound heater with a built-in fan. The original installation holes for the heater plate are placed quite high. For tortoise use, you can drill new holes on the wall and install the heater lower.

heated tortoise house

The removable inside wall panel also has a 5-inch step. I couldn't get the metal fastener off the metal edging, so I simply cut the whole bottom step off. This small, budget friendly 12" Craftsman hacksaw made it quick and easy. It cut through the thick metal and plastic effortlessly.

I don't use the wall divider during summer, but I place it back in during the cooler months. This helps keep the heated side of the house warmer.

heated tortoise house

Easy step ramp for the door made with flat concrete blocks. The coco mat on top helps with traction. It also forces tortoises to wipe their feet on the way in. :0)

 

Related page: Outdoor tortoise houses p.1

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