Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

7 DIY Tortoise Enclosure Ideas You Can Easily Make (With Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

red-footed tortoise in the enclosure

Tortoises don’t jump and can’t really climb, which means that their enclosures need to offer horizontal space so that they can wander around. There needs to be enough space to offer a basking spot, a feeding area, and plenty of room to relax. The layout of the enclosures means that they are usually referred to as tortoise tables, and you can offer an indoor or outdoor table.

Rather than paying for a commercially available enclosure, which can cost hundreds of dollars, it is possible to make your own. The design is relatively simple, after all, and making your own tortie table not only means that you can save some money compared to buying one, but it means you can fashion the table to perfectly fit the space you have available and you can create your own internal design.

Below, we have included details of seven tortoise enclosure plans that you can take inspiration from.

The 7 DIY Tortoise Enclosure Ideas

1. Amazing Tortoise Table by projectPet

Materials: Plywood, Varnish, Sealant, Wheels, Wire Mesh, Hinges, Vinyl
Tools: Saw, Drill, Caulk Gun

This tortoise table is portable thanks to the addition of wheels to the base of the plywood table. It also has side walls that slide in and out, making it easier to access the inside of the table, and there’s a decent amount of space in the enclosure so that you can add any décor and other items you want.

2. Habitat for a Hermann’s Tortoise by wikiHow

diy habitat for hermann’s tortoises
Image Credit: wikiHow
Materials: Plastic Container, Lino, Sand, Soil
Tools: None

An indoor tortoise enclosure is really easy to make. It doesn’t need any weatherproofing, which means you can make it from an open plastic tub. Make sure the tub is big enough that your tortoise has plenty of space to go about its day. Add liner to the bottom to make cleaning easier and add a tub for water.

3. Make Your Own Tortoise Table by The Tortoise Table

diy tortoise table
Image Credit: The Tortoise Table
Materials: Plywood, Liner
Tools: Saw

Generally, you should avoid using any clear material when making a tortoise table. Tortoises can’t tell that clear surfaces are solid, and they will just continue to walk into the walls as they attempt to roam further. Wood is a good option, and if the tortoise table is being used inside, it doesn’t require too much in the way of treatment and protection. This guide gives very basic instructions on how to make a tortoise table, including instructions on hanging the lamps and providing a dark, secluded area where your tortoise can get some sleep.

4. Open-Topped Tortoise Enclosure by Tortoise Trust

diy open-topped tortoise enclosure
Image Credit: Tortoise Trust
Materials: Laminate Flooring, Polycarbonate Glazing, MDF, Timber Batten, Seed Trays, Duct Tape
Tools: Saw

This open-topped tortoise enclosure essentially uses seed trays to make compartmented sections within the open-topped enclosure. Different sections can be used for different purposes. This also means that you can have extra seed trays filled with cobbles or other items and you can swap them in when you take the old seed trays out for cleaning. It’s a simple design but it’s strong, sturdy, and well-ventilated.

5. Tortoise Table by Pet Tortoise

diy tortoise table
Image Credit: Pet Tortoise
Materials: Wood, Screws, Lamp, UV Tube, Rocks, Logs
Tools: Saw, Screwdriver

This tortoise table is an indoor table that uses wood for the main construction and also teaches you how to fit a lamp and UV tube. It also uses rocks and logs within the enclosure, mimicking the terrain that a turtle would live in. These act as obstacles and provide your tortoise with greater physical exercise and mental stimulation.

6. Easy to Make Tortoise Enclosure by Paul Cuffaro

Materials: Log Hut, Plant Pot, Plant, Plastic Tub, Water Dish, Mulch
Tools: None

Using just a handful of inexpensive items like ceramic pots and log hides, along with some mulch and a plastic tray, you can make a really simple and inexpensive tortoise. This easy-to-make enclosure also has a plant inside to provide shade and your tortoise can enjoy eating the leaves and plants, so make sure you choose a tortoise-safe plant and that you wash it down thoroughly before putting it in the enclosure. This gets rid of any chemicals that might otherwise harm your tortoise.

7. DIY Tortoise Table by Tortoise General

Materials: 2 x 6 Wood, Plywood, Screws, Silicon, Vinyl, Substrate, Decorations
Tools: Claw Hammer, Saw, Measure, Drill, Sander

DIY tortoise tables really are quite simple pieces. They do need walls, but the walls don’t have to be tall, and you can put dividers in to better partition the area and provide different areas for your tortie. As the plan suggests, make sure you don’t use arsenic-treated wood because this is toxic to tortoises.

How Big Should a Tortoise Enclosure Be?

The size of the enclosure depends on the species and size of the tortoise that will be kept inside. You can have a smaller enclosure for a young tortoise, but you will need to move it to something larger as it matures and grows. Generally, an enclosure needs to be 8 x 4 feet and the side walls should be a foot higher than the tortoise is tall to prevent it from being able to easily escape. If you have the floor space, you can absolutely make the enclosure bigger than this so your tortie has more room to roam.

Can You Keep a Tortoise Outside?

Tortoises can live outdoors so as long as you live in an area where the conditions are suitable for tortoises. Make sure they have a shaded area, however, as well as somewhere to go and hide if the weather gets really bad. At the very least, you should be able to let your tortoise live outside for some of the year.

Should I Let My Tortoise Roam the House?

Tortoises, like most reptiles, can carry salmonella. This can be transferred to items that the tortoise touches and then onto your hands before coming into contact with your face and your mouth. You could end up with salmonella poisoning, and this is especially a risk if you let your tortie roam the house. As such, it is best not to let a tortoise roam.


Tortoises are incredible animals. They can live hundreds of years in the wild, and most pet tortoises will live at least 60 to 80 years, so you should be prepared for a long life of tortie ownership. During this time, you are likely to go through several tortoise enclosures, and rather than having to keep paying to buy new ones, you can make your own.

Above, we have included links to plans for seven homemade tortoise enclosures including those that are designed for indoor and outdoor use, and you can modify the plans to meet your space requirements and the requirements of your tortoises.

You Might Also Be Interested In:

Featured Image Credit: fullframes, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database