Monday, March 20, 2017

Setting Up A Tortoise Tank For Cheap!!!

If you've read [practically] any of my posts last week, you'd know that we purchased ourselves a family tortoise named YodaHe's a red footed shell of fun who's living arrangement was temporarily causing construction mayhem in our living room, due to the fact that I just HAD to DIY it

Between trying to build the actual tank and setting up the inside to specific specifications, I darn near went bonkers trying to fully complete the freaking thing last week. 

Well I'm happy to say that everything has FINALLY been completed (as I mentioned on Friday's post). The furnishings have been placed, the substrate has been laid, and Yoda has finally gotten the chance to test out the "living quarters" over the weekend, with me monitoring his movements to better comprehend whether or not he actually likes the "tank".

Let me start out by saying something very important before any tortoise lover attacks me, this "tank" is not something for a long term or permanent enclosure. It's not nearly big enough nor does it meet the minimum requirement for a long term living situation. While I don't necessarily think it's a tiny little enclosure that he's "squashed" in, Yoda gets ample exercise (and UV/Sun exposure for those concerned about the "absent" light) all during the day to keep him a happy healthy tortoise. 

Once everything was built and "waterproofed" inside, I was able to finally create an oasis for our newest family friend. 

I started off by laying down an "Eco Carpet", which helps to keep the substrate moisten AND further protect the wood (even though it's been treated). This was a simple product (ours was made for a 50 gallon tank, but they have smaller ones) that I found at the local pet store. 

Once it was spread across the tank's floor I began to create the substrate flooring for the perfect balance of comfy and humid by using two separate substrate materials for separate areas of the tank. This is to create an extra humid and cool hiding spot during hot days and a multipurpose "everyday" area for walking around and lounging in the sun. The two substrates are by "Zoo Med" (found on Amazon for way cheaper than in stores). One is Eco Earth which is a coconut husk material (the "everyday" roaming area) and the other is Forest Floor which is more of a "wood" mix (for the extra humid and cool area). 

Speaking of the shaded area, we used our hiding log - given to us for free by the pet shop - in the resting area (where it's most humid and shaded) and then put a special background (found in clearance section at pet store) behind it, to give a little extra glory to Yoda's "bedroom". This is also the area we put our thermometer and humidifier as it's the most used area in the tank, since the tank is essentially his bedroom, bathroom, and eating area. 

As for decoration, the back of the tank is half plexiglass (the bottom half) and half chicken wire (the top half), so that Yoda is protected but given a little extra air flow. 

I found some cheap fish tank fake plants (reptile plants are WAY more expensive) that were all bundled up on one "vine". It was meant to be a floating type plant stuck in one area, but I decided to alter it by cutting each vine section separate from the rest. This gave me a total of 5 pieces. 

I then used extra thick thread (weave thread you can find at the hair salon or Amazon) to tie them to the very top of the chicken wire, directly underneath the wooden frame. I thought this would give a little bit of a prettier look and some plant decor for Yoda to admire. I simply threaded the string through the chicken wire holes and manipulated the plants to stick up how I wanted them to show. 

Yes I'm aware he's an animal and probably doesn't care about my decorating skills, but it's the thought that counts. Besides, it's pretty and I like it. 

The last few steps were just minor details in a bigger picture. 

My padawan chose a very unique - and pretty darn cool if I do say so myself - skull (normally for a fish tank) and I bought a cuttlebone stick for him to chew on (called Turtle Bone and found at pet stores). The only other separate detail is the rocks around his eating area, which were all found (and cleaned) by walking through the neighborhood.

No we didn't steal them, they were extras from some home project and were just going to be thrown away, so we made use of them.

All in all we spent about $30 by buying clearance, purchasing items not initially intended for tortoises (but safe) and ordering from Amazon (yay Prime). 

Side note: a really unique feature of our tank is that the front is actually a pull out front, making cleaning, setting up, and maintaining the tank extremely easy. This was an essential piece of in designing our homemade tank. 


Now that I've watched Yoda interact with everything over the weekend, I can conclude that he's simply content with sleeping, going to the bathroom, and eating. Which is exactly what it was designed for.

During the day Yoda strolls through our [tortoise proof] house and basks in the sun that beams through our [open] windows for hours on end. Trust me, he's a spoiled and very loved tortoise. He's also the perfect addition to our little family and I'm really proud with how well our entire creation turned out! What do you guys think?

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