Drawing of an enclosoure for land tortoises with swimming pool - Blitzen

How to build a land turtle enclosure in 5 steps


Premise on the land turtle enclosure for land turtles

Do not be fooled by their clumsy appearance: like Arsène Lupin, land turtles are masters of escape. Extremely curious, they can dig, climb and get out the fence. Outside their enclosure, however, they can face very serious dangers.

Some premises:

  • High quality inside the enclosure. Building a perfect fence is useless if inside the space is not well done. In fact, inside the enclosure, you must recreate, in small, the ideal habitat of your land turtles, imitating what they would find in nature. There must always be a shelter, soft terrain, water, light and shade. You may also be interested to read this post: “The best land turtle’s habitat in 7 steps”.
  • The space inside the enclosure. The greater the space you dedicate to your turtle, the better her quality of life will be. Expert breeders and researchers recommend a width of 5 to 10 square meters for each land turtle. In any case, the CITES guidelines suggest never going below 2 square meters per specimen.
  • Safety inside and outside the enclosure. It is very important to make a good fence for your land turtles, because a promiscuous space can be very dangerous: cars and lawnmowers can cause fatal damage to your turtle. The enclosure must also keep predators away: dogs, birds of prey and rodents.

1 – An impassable enclosure

Although they are not the most agile animals in the wild, land turtles are able to climb over obstacles that far exceed their height. For this reason the fence must be at least 40 centimeters high and must not have steps that can help land turtles escape.

The common green nets for gardens can be dangerous, because they allow climbing easily and often cause painful damage to the legs. The best materials are wood, brick and stone.

If you choose to use wood, you can put vertical panels close together, obtaining a smooth surface on the inside of the enclosure; the horizontal fixing, with the joists, must be facing outwards, so as not to provide any adhesion. If you choose to use bricks or stone blocks, you can also use holes to plant shrubs or flowers.

Do you have a dog? Well, dogs can mortally attack land turtles even after years of peaceful cohabitation. If you have a dog, increase the height of the land turtle enclosure to make it totally inaccessible.

2 – A fence under the ground

Land turtles are able to dig deep holes and in some cases they can make tunnels under your fence. The Testudo Horsfieldii, for example, also called Russian turtle, can dig tunnels even a couple of meters long.

Therefore, in order to avoid escapes – Count of Montecristo’s style- it is important to bury the fence along the entire perimeter, for at least 40 centimeters of depth. If you can not extend the planks of wood or brick under the ground, you can attach a net to the main fence, on the outside, and let it down into the ground.

How can you do that? Just dig a trench along the perimeter of your land turtle enclosure. At this point you can fix vertical posts, in wood or metal, so that you can hook the net. Once this is done, you can cover the trench with some terrain.

3 – Many curves and few corners

The free forms, without corners, are the most recommended for the land turtles enclosures: it is nice and make very difficult to escape. The reason? The corners allow the land turtles to prop up and cling to the edges of the enclosure. Well, rectangular perimeters are much more practical, indeed. But if you can, the curves are definitely a plus for your land tortoise enclosure.


4 – A net above your enclosure against birds of prey

Disegno Blitzen raffigurante una recinzione per tartarughe di terra protetta con una rete sopra

The danger can come from the sky: owls and crows can hurt and kill your land tortoises. A net is mandatory to protect baby turtles: small and soft-shelled, they are a delicious morsel for birds of prey. If land turtles are adult, however, the net is optional but  is definitely a good choice. The beak and the claws of certain common birds, in fact, can kill even large turtles.

5 – A visual barrier

Disegno raffigurante un recinto per Tartarughe di terra con una tartaruga che guarda verso l'alto

Fences are often built with wide-mesh nets to allow land tortoises to contemplate the landscape. Experienced researchers, on the other hand, advise doing the opposite by making a visual barrier. Land turtles, in fact, are not interested in the landscape, but their instinct leads them to explore: if they see that on the other side there are interesting colors and good things to eat, they will have the unstoppable impulse to reach them and try to get out of the enclosure.If they do not see beyond the barrier, your land turtles will be quiet and happy, dominating their horizon in full. The visual stimuli of unexplored places, on the contrary, can generate stress and make them escape.

BONUS – Put some aromatic plants

Your enclosure can be beautiful and functional, with the addition of plants and shrubs. The best choice? The most common aromatic plants: sage, thyme, rosemary and lavender. They are not very attractive for the Testudo to eat: so, they can grow and generate shade and cooler areas. What is more, they are not bad to eat.

Also, you can put some roses: extremely decorative for you, exquisitely good for your tortoises.



alberto blitzen

I am an architect and I study the habitat of many animals. I used to live among the woods of France, the sands of the Middle East, the canals of Venice and the lights of Paris, before returning to the fold.

The fold is on the beautiful hills of Lake Garda, surrounded by castles, fairy tales and cypresses. From here I tell stories and make drawings on cats, dogs, mysteries, legends, hedgehogs and bats.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *