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How to Set Up an Outdoor Turtle Enclosure

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 1

For those who are familiar with the YouTube sensations "Auto-tune the News", you will know that, beyond the evident political implications of the topic, "turtle fences" were effectively all the rage in their tenth video installment. With over 2,300,000+ total views, not surprisingly, this quartet of internet personalities failed to mention anything about how to actually set up a turtle fence. More appropriately known as a "turtle enclosure", a turtle fence is set up by a turtle raiser in order to maintain control of their turtles while, at the same time, allowing them the freedom to roam in the wild where they are happiest and healthiest.

Because of the clear inability of turtles, by nature, to exercise with the speed and dynacism of other animals, a turtle enclosure doesn't necessarily have to be tall so much as it has to be impenetrable. Follow the steps in this Info Barrel article in order to ensure that your turtle enclosure will provide the best place possible for your turtles to be raised.

Things You Will Need

  • Wood, Plastic, or Mesh
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • a Power Drill
  • Screws
  • a Shovel
  • Plants
  • Dead Organic Matter
  • Rocks
  • Logs

Step 1

It is important to realize that the size of your turtle enclosure should be directly proportional to the amount of turtles that you hope to house. Had you only one turtle that you hope to raise, you would need less area than, say, if you had 10 or 15 turtles. Similar to our human desire to have our own space, so also will your turtles be at their most content when they know they have their own space. Generally speaking, each turtle should have at least 5 square feet of space to call their own. If you have 10 turtles, then you should realistically plan to make your turtle fence enclosure at least 50 square feet in area.

Bear in mind, these measurements are a minimal consideration and can be expanded upon dependent upon how many turtles you are raising and how much space you actually have. Just like fish in an aquarium enjoy having habitat enriching additions that complement the scene, so also will your turtles enjoy having rocks available for them to nestle up to and hide behind. Such additions can also give your turtles a sense of security with regards to feeling like they are truly in their own natural habitat.

Step 2

When you build your turtle fence enclosure, you should do so with the intent to bury and secure the sides of your enclosure. With your shovel, you can make an outline by digging all around the estimated perimeter. This is where your wooden, mesh, or strong plastic siding will go. Because turtles can be master escape artists themselves, two items of consideration when building your turtle enclosure should be:
  • Your turtles' ability to see through. If your turtles can see through your turtle fence they will attempt to escape. For this reason, material that has solid, non-transparent features should be used in order to keep your turtles from seeing outside of their turtle fence enclosure.
  • The spacing between the mesh you use. If you must use mesh, not only should it be strong, but the holes in it should be as small as possible. This will help to ensure that your turtles do not attempt to escape like MacGuyver. If given the opportunity, you could go to bed one night, and wake up to all your turtles missing. This has happened before and you should do everything within your power to make sure that this doesn't happen.

Step 3

Once your turtle enclosure is assembled and installed, you will want to make sure that it is actually "enclosed" by putting a board over top of it. Not only do you want to keep your turtles from escaping unexpectedly during the night (or day), but you also want to take the necessary steps to ensure that they don't fall victim to unwelcome predators that may try to sneak in. Turtles aren't exactly a lion or whale on the food chain, and therefore, have predators such as possums and raccoons that may try to enter and feast on the turtles. Security of your turtle enclosure is of utmost importance, and, for that reason, you can use items like a screen top in order to make sure these predators don't come in.

Step 4

In order to best accommodate a turtles need for internal regulation from heat or inclement weather, your turtle enclosure should have a roof that allows for varying degrees of sunlight. Just like humans can only take so much sun before retreating to the nearest shade provider, like an umbrella or roof, so also will your turtles not want to be in the blistering sun all day long. In fact, too much sun bombarding them throughout the day can actually have lethal effects as they take a toll on your turtles' fragile body.

With areas of your turtle enclosure designated to allow these degrees of sunlight, you can rest assured that your turtles will retreat to which ever area best suits them at any time of the day. A roof can also help to shield your turtles from inclement weather that could also inflict brutal damage and wear and tear to them over time. You will have to think of your own weather and climate, wherever you may live, and take these elements into consideration for your turtles.

Step 5

Because of their natural propensity to drown, if you do include a pool for your turtles to swim in, you should ensure that the water level is not very high. In fact, akin to humans emerging from a deep pool, the water level of your turtles' pool should be no higher than the level to which they are able to stick their neck out. Much like your roof consideration for your turtle enclosure, a pool will also help regulate a turtles sensitive body temperature. It doesn't necessarily matter where you put the pool, however, your turtles may find it to be more enjoyable if the pool is in the sun, and they can then escape to the shade if they begin to feel themselves overheat. A viable alternative may also be to place a portion of the pool under shade and another portion under sun.

If created properly, a turtle enclosure can be a wonderful place for the turtles you are raising to roam around in the wild they are accustomed to. While this habitat will be man-made or artificial, there are elements of nature, like rocks and logs, that you can add in order to make your turtle enclosure as natural as possible. Your turtles will appreciate these thoughtful considerations and the end result will be a happier and healthier turtle.

Tips & Warnings

Different species of turtles can vary in their particular needs as far as sunlight, shade, and shelter. For this reason, it is important that you do the proper research on your turtle species before you begin your turtle fence enclosure project. They may also have certain temperature regulating preferences that should certainly be considered.

Certain materials that you may think you can use should actually be avoided because of their inherent toxicity to turtles. Regardless of the species, many turtles could actually die if they ingest shavings or chips from cedar, fir, or pine trees.



Sep 27, 2010 8:27pm
We used to have a pet turtle and kept her in an outdoor pen, except when the weather was bad. It worked out great, but after a few years she quietly made her escape! Guess we should have checked our fence more often!
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