Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Flash Harry`s Adventure Playground

Flash Harry is the latest addition to our "zoo."
He is forty years old. That is quite incredible.
He is very popular with campers.
Sometimes he is hiding in his little house and people are disappointed not to see him.
But at other times he is trundling round his compound.

At the weekend I noticed that there was a kind of path flattened around
 the perimeter of the cage and that led me to wonder if he was bored.
How does a tortoise show boredom?
Since doing some research on the internet, I have found that it is quite usual for a tortoise to pace his enclosure. However I also found out that long grass is not so good as it can cause disease and sometimes long pieces of grass can get stuck in the throat and cause choking.
It is also quite wearing for a tortoise to walk on long grass continually.

Today my first job was to cut the grass with shears. Flash Harry was out and about and I gave him a 
strawberry which he really enjoyed. Here he is with juice dribbling down his chin.

When I started to cut the grass, I think the noise, vibrations or movement caused him to go indoors.
And I didn`t see him again this afternoon.

My first idea was to create two covered areas, well away from the wire fence.
(I think Flash Harry is quite adventurous)
One is a cool area with open sides. I used eight bricks with a paving slab on top.
I cut away the turf as I`d read that they like to scrabble around in the soil. I had to make sure he could get in and out easily.

The next was a warm area. Tortoises are cold-blooded, so when he wants to warm up he can go under his open-sided greenhouse.
I scooped out the turf and left soil underneath, then I used bricks and rested a piece of plastic roofing, with some extra greenhouse shading on the undersides.

Now he has a choice....
a little house for complete privacy
a greenhouse to warm himself up
a cool area to chill out

Next I decided to make the perimeter path more interesting with different surfaces.
At home we had a ridged tile which we bought years ago to allow frogs to get in and out of our pond.
(It had steep sides.) I sank it into the soil after removing the turf.

I washed pebbles to remove sand ( not good for tortoise)

I found old broken tiles in the farm yard, still covered in moss.

I also found some off-cuts of decking.

Now, as Flash Harry scouts his perimeter, he will encounter different surfaces which I hope will make life more interesting. I look forward to seeing which one he will enjoy the most.

Oh and as you can see, he has a little paddling pool. It is a plant saucer, sunk into the ground, shallow enough for him to get in and out easily and held down by four metal tent pegs.


  1. Looks like he has a much more interesting enclosure now. I look forward to some photos of him exploring the different options available to him.

    1. And I`m hoping he really likes some of them. It would be a bit embarassing if he kept on what`s left of the grass. Ha ha.

  2. This looks amazing Jen, I bet he loves it x x x

    1. He likes the walkway but so far have not seen him in the cool or warm areas. I might check the height. Perhaps he`s frightened that he`ll get stuck.