An outdoor housing offers tortoises exposure to natural, unfiltered sunlight, as well as fresh air and the opportunity to graze on organic plants and weeds.
Even in the most temperate areas, a protected and heated shelter should be made available to any tortoise housed outdoors. These can be a modified dog house, or something as simple as an appropriately sized plywood box.
These shelters should be gently heated to maintain a regular temperature of around 80 degrees via ceramic heat emitters or heavy-duty pig blankets. Additionally, the shelter can be stuffed with a fluffy layer of hay as insulation, but be certain that no fire hazards are posed by the hay and any exposed heating elements.
Keep in mind that the presence of a heated shelter does not guarantee that your animals will use it. You will have to watch them closely to make sure they make it into the shelter each night. Some keepers manually place their animals into said shelters on a nightly basis. Others actually forgo a shelter altogether and just take their animals into a garage or similarly warmed area each evening.
Tortoises are among the most intelligent and responsive reptile pets that one can own. Their personable demeanor and simple dietary requirements further add to their appeal.
However, in addition to the aforementioned positive attributes, there are certain aspects of chelonian care that may prove troublesome for all but the most prepared of keepers.
A tortoise sitting on a cold floor in a warm room can still become chilled, which may lead to respiratory, digestive and other problems. The large surface of the pads provides floor heat over a considerable area.
Heat pads were originally produced and sold to the agriculture industry to provide a warm resting area for small farm animals, mainly piglets. Nowadays the list of applications has grown to include tortoises, boid snakes, iguanas and monitors, and ostriches etc.
These heat pads consist of rigid fiberglass material incorporating a heating element. Their heavy construction, flat profile and reliability make them an astute addition to the exotic tortoise quarters. The installation, use, and maintenance of the pads are not, however, without serious consideration.