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Cosy Tortoises

Innovative Tortoise Housing and Ideal Set-Up and Care Information

Tortoise Houses Information

For prices please go to the Housing Information page to access the separate tortoise housing pages (All-Season HousesOutdoor Runs, Indoor Tortoise Tables, Natural Ground Houses and Giant All-Season Houses) by either clicking on the link or use the menu above.

The picture above shows a Medium All-Season House with a Sunroom.  The boxes inside contain electrical items that were requested as optional extras. See the Housing Accessories page for our Heat and Light Pack, Electrical Installation, Colour Upgrade details and other ironmongery for the Outdoor Runs.

This page will tell you everything you need to know about our Houses for tortoises. Describing each feature of the houses in detail to help inform our customers about their intended purpose and functions.

Site Preparation

To prepare your garden for your tortoise house we recommend the following;

Position your house in the sunniest part of your garden

Make sure you can safely supply the site with an electric supply - you may need to consult a qualified electrician for advice

Ensure the ground stays as dry as possible under the wood house by choosing an area that drains well and ideally is in an elevated position in case of flooding. 

Lay a concrete block or use paving slabs to provide a strong, level and dry base to support the house and prevent the runners sinking into the ground (just like you would for a garden shed).

House set-up details

This description is based on our Standard All-Season Houses but the usage details can be used for all of our houses, because they all have hide and sunroom areas.  The houses comprise a heated hide (when using a heat lamp) on the left-hand side and sunroom on the right(when viewed from the front).

In principal, All-Season Houses are designed to house tortoises all year round outside. Their main functions are to provide shelter, heat and UV provision as well as a good temperature gradient and space for a water bowl if necessary. The thermal gradient is a description of the space required to ensure tortoises can move away from a heat source and ideally can be about ten degrees cooler than basking temperature. For most reptiles ten degrees celsius is regarded as an adequate thermal gradient. The cool end temperature ideally should be tailored to species, typically down to about 10-15 degrees for Mediterranean Tortoises. Typically cool-end temperatures should be higher than 20 degrees for both Tropical and African tortoises, although desert species can be much more cold-tolerant, but all tortoises should be protected from temperatures below 10 degrees celsius.

There are two full height doors on the front that give complete access to both sides of the house. The roof is not removable.

Heated hide

All-Season Houses are designed to be tall enough to house a heatlamp in one end and long enough to provide a good thermal gradient whilst keeping the tortoises warm despite being outside. The heatlamp should be hung from the ceiling via the metal loop placed (supplied and fitted) in the hide side of the house to create a large heated hide.

The heated hide provides ideal heating facilities for keeping your tortoises outdoors all year round and particularly when the temperature is below 15 degrees C. This is usually true for around 8-12 months of the year in the UK and hence a heatlamp is essential for keeping tortoises outdoors.

The All-Season houses are large enough to provide a good thermal gradient. This is especially important in the cooler months when you would ideally close your tortoises in overnight whenever the temperature falls below 15 degrees C outside. This is acheived by removing the ramp (that slots on) and replacing the tortoise door secured with turn buttons (supplied and fitted) inside the house to ensure good security. A drip Mould is fitted above the Tortoise Door to prevent rainwater running down the front of the house into the door opening.

On cooler days we have observed that tortoises will sit under the heatlamp to bask (get thoroughly warmed up), venture outside and return again to bask several times a day. Tortoises are generally happy to continue to go back into the house regardless of outside temperature, unless it is particularly cold (below ten degrees) when you may choose to keep them in the house by leaving the door closed. They seem to be very good at remembering where their heatlamp is after only a few days in their new house.


An outdoor UV lighting unit can be placed in Sunroom, so you can provide a good source of UVB light in daylight hours in the right hand side of the house. Due to the low UV levels in the UK compared to most natural habitats of tortoises we recommend that you provide artificial UVB light by fitting an Outdoor UV unit as supplied in our Heat and Light Packs. Our Electrical installation provides two sockets with a standard house heating controller so that the UV light can be timed to come on and off to replicate daylight.

The sunroom is fitted with special polycarbonate windows. This allows natural UVB light from the sun to filter through. The polycarbonate windows allow maximum exposure to natural UVB light and are much more thermally insulating than glass too. The polycarbonate we use in all of our windows is specially sourced without any coating that cuts out the UV light. Polycarbonate is one of the few plastics that allows UV light through due to its chemical properties at a molecular level. Glass filters out 90% plus UVB light which is essential for calcium uptake by tortoises.


Premium insulation is provided by an air cavity and high quality Airtec double-layered foil with thick bubble-wrap within it. Outer walls are finished in Tongue and Groove cladding. The Airtec foil insulation is secured inside the cavity before the cladding layer is added as shown in the top right of the second picture.

The houses are fully insulated to protect against the cold, the wind, wet weather and over-heating in the sun. The walls, floor and roof are double-walled with insulation in the cavity as standard. The main reason for insulating the houses is to help keep the heat in the house so the thermostat will keep the heatlamp on as little as possible. This saves energy and prevents the heat spot directly below the heatlamp from getting too hot for your tortoises, just to keep the rest of the house warm enough. Thermostats with good insulation make our houses very energy efficient all-year round.

Quality Manufacture

The roof is fitted with high quality felt and the outside is painted with high quality weather-proof stain. Water-resistant good quality WBP Plywood is used throughout the double-skinned roof.

There are drip-moulds fitted above the tortoise and main access doors on the sunroom side to prevent water running into the door cavities.

The weatherproof wood stain should be supplemented with a final coat after transportation and at least yearly after that to ensure your house lasts as long as possible (unless the woodstain manufacturers suggest a longer time in their guidelines). We use only low-VOCs (Volatile Organic Carbon) which means low-solvent products that are water-based and safe for use with animals when dry. Please ensure the All-Season house is solvent free when housing your tortoise. The golden rule is that if you can smell the woodstain, they are breathing it in too. Colour upgrade options are available for these houses on the Housing Accessories page.

These houses are hand made using the best quality material available. The wood Cosy Tortoises uses are of very high quality, smooth finished and purchased untreated to prevent chemicals leaking from the wood into the ground. These houses were designed by experienced tortoise keepers.


Doors can be locked with padlocks and the windows are made of polycarbonate security glazing that has high impact resistance. The ventilation windows have mesh secured inside them to prevent access through them help ensure the safety of your tortoises overnight when you may need the air vents open in warm weather. Hasp and Staples are supplied and fitted on both front access doors.

Optional Extras

Add-on Outdoor Runs that are specially adapted to fit onto the front of the All-Season Houses are available on the Housing Accessories page. There are also Hasp And Staples (for Outdoor Runs), Weatherproof Padlocks, Heat and Light Packs, Electrical Installation packs and colour upgrades available for these houses on the Housing Accessories page too.

IMPORTANT SAFETY ADVICE: These houses are very heavy. These houses should not be lifted by one person to prevent personal injury. When lifting these houses use good lifting technique to protect your back and we would recommend steel-toe capped shoes.

These houses are hand made using the best quality material available. The wood Cosy Tortoises uses are of very high quality, purchased untreated and smooth finished. These houses were designed by experienced tortoise keepers, if you are interested in our story please see the About us page.

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