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Turtles/Redfoot housing


My husband and I need to build our tortoise, Miss Bixby, a new enclosure.  She's 3 and 1/2 yrs old and is outgrowing her current habitat.  When we looked at the pet store for a box they had one made of cedar but it was way to small for her.  So we decided to build our own. We went and got about $200.00 in cedar planks. While looking for information on what was non-toxic to seal it with, we came across a lot of negative info on cedar although it was mostly about bedding.  The cedar we have is western kiln-dried.  Can we use it for Bix's new box?  Can it be sealed with polyurethane or something similar that is non toxic? Can it be lined with a laminate of some sort? Or did we just make an expensive planter?

Hi Kelly,

Cedar isn't ideal, but if you seal it well, it will be fine to use.  You can use a water-based polyurathane--you'll need to do a few coats, so make sure it dries well between coats.  Because redfoots have a high moisture requirement, I would also consider lining the enclosure with something like vinyl flooring.  You can get smaller sizes of vinyl flooring at places like Lowe's or Home Depot fairly inexpensively, and then trim at the corners so it fits the enclosure in one piece.  The corners can be sealed with a food-grade silicone, or aquarium silicone.  This will make it both very durable, and completely safe for her.  Hope this helped--if you have more questions, please post back.


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Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.


I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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