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LARGE Enclosure for BURROWERS

Enclosure, cage, nest box, building and enrichment ideas for any species.

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Ash
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LARGE Enclosure for BURROWERS

Postby Ash » Mon Oct 24, 2016 4:40 am

So this coming year I am going to be constructing another heavy duty enclosure, but this time I will not underestimate an animal's ability to burrow. I will be building this enclosure to specifically allow and encourage the occupants to dig, large burrows. I will be starting it this winter in the garage if all goes well.

This "tutorial" is very similar to the one I posted of my fox enclosure, but it is different enough I thought it could have its own topic. Also, putting things onto "paper" (writing it out, rather) helps me smooth out my plans and arrange it better in my head. It helps to share with others too. Input, criticisms, and questions are welcome of course. :)

As I complete the steps I will post pictures to demonstrate certain parts that may be hard to visualize. So pictures will be added to this thread.

Pen size: 16x32x11'
The height (11') includes the burrowing space. 3 feet of the height will be available for burrowing.

There are TWO steps that can be taken separately in order to BEGIN building the enclosure. I will call them "Step 1" and "Step 2."

Step 1A:
First a giant 16x32' pit needs to be completely dug out that goes 3' deep. This will either be accomplished through grueling labor OR by hiring a tractor to come out and dig. I'm going to be going with the latter most likely. Around here it costs usually around $75/hour of work with a minimum of 4 hours required. In addition, the bottom needs to be fairly level (this is most important along the edges).

Materials/Hardware required:
Shovel & Pick
Tractor (if needed)
Level

Step 1B:
Lay down chain link to cover the entire pit. Secure the chain link together with galvanized wire to create one "solid" piece. Place a single layer of cinder blocks on TOP of the chain link along the circumference, ensuring that they are all level. Use concrete to secure cinder blocks stay in place. At this point you are essentially building a retaining wall.

Materials/hardware required:
Level
Rolls of 6' galvanized chain link gauge 11.5 (typical chain link); enough to cover the bottom of the enclosure
11.5 gauge wire, pliers, and wire-cutters
Cinder block
Cement
Wheel barrel
Trowel

Step 1C:
Begin to build the cinder block walls. These walls will be 3' high. When laying the cinder block, be sure to off-set the blocks. Off-setting the blocks ensures that the wall will be stronger. As you lay the cinder blocks, make sure that they are level. Fill some of the holes with cement and the others with fill-dirt or rocks. You do not need to fill every hole with cement--you can skip most of them. Leave the holes on the TOP layer empty for now.

Materials/hardware required:
Level
Cinder block
Cement
Rebar (for additional strength; optional)

Step 1D:
The last part of step 1 is to back fill the pit. Push all the dirt that had been dug out initially back into the pit and fill it all the way back up to the top. Now no one can see the hard work you just did.

Honestly, step 1 is the hardest step. Digging the pit, leveling it, and building the retaining wall are the most difficult, time-consuming part.

Outdoor work can only be accomplished during the daytime, and when weather permits. I am lucky to have a garage large enough to build in, so can be working on building the cage walls in the meantime.

Step 2A:
Build the panels of the enclosure. The frame will be constructed from treated lumber. Screw the frame together. I'm going to use 8' 2x4s. Each panel will be 8' tall x 16' long. 6 2x4s will be used for the frame itself, but you will attach two extra ones spaced at regular intervals in order to square and support the frame.

Materials required for ONE panel of the enclosure:
2x4x8' Pressure-treated lumber (quantity 8)
Screwdriver & screws

Step 2B:
Attach the horse panels to the frame. Since the horse panels only come 5' tall, two will have to be used in order to cover the 8' of height. One of the horse panels will have to be cut down to size (2' will be removed). Lay the horse panels on top and use a hammer to pound double-barbed nails into the wood. This takes a bit of work and time, but is easy.

Materials required for ONE panel of the enclosure:
5x16' Horse panels (quantity 2)
Double-barbed nails
Hammer (heavy duty)

Step 2C:
Repeat steps 2A and 2B until you have assembled the appropriate number of enclosure panels (5).

Step 2D:
The 6th and final enclosure panel will also contain the door. The only difference when constructing this panel is to add the door frame. The 2 horse panels will have to be cut so that they do not cover the door frame. Use an additional 2 2x4s for the jam and mull post.

Step 2E:
Now to build the door. To do this, you are basically just making a "custom," small enclosure panel. Measure the door frame (from the inside part of the wood) in order to determine the exact measurements for the door. The door should be around 3x8' tall (if you want it large like I do). Construct a frame from the lumber and cut the horse panel to size. Lay the horse panel on the frame and secure it with the barbed nails. Now that the door is done, set it aside for now.

Now it's time to bring Steps 1 and 2 together...

Step 3:
Now for assembly. First take out 2 enclosure panels to the cinder block "wall." Using clamps as well as extra hands, prop the two panels up. Be certain they are SQUARED and are sitting appropriately on top of the cinder blocks. Drill several holes through both of the 2x4s and put bolts through them. Fasten nuts tightly on the bolts, and voila, you have a free-standing corner (if the wind doesn't blow too hard). Remove the clamps.

Materials/hardware required:
Clamps
Drill
Nuts & Bolts (heavy duty)
Extra hands

Step 4:
Finish assembling all 6 of the enclosure panels via the same method detailed in Step 3.

Step 5:
With the enclosure assembled, you now need to secure it to the foundation. The foundation is the cinder block wall it is now resting on. Drill holes through the wooden base of the panel coinciding with the holes in the cinder block. Put a LONG bolt down each drilled hole, ensuring it also goes down the hole into the cinder block. Last, poor concrete down into the cinder block's hole, all the way up until it is flush with the top. This will make sure the enclosure is secured to the foundation.

Materials/hardware required:
Drill
Bolts (heavy duty)
Cement

Step 6:
Time for the ceiling of the enclosure. For this particular enclosure I am going to be using wooden lattice. (The top of the enclosure WILL change depending on what species you choose to keep. If a fox were to live in this enclosure, lattice would be far too flimsy and could be chewed through easily.) Place the lattice on top and secure it with screws or a staple gun depending on the width.

Materials/hardware required:
Lattice
Screws, Driver
Nail-gun & Nails

Step 7:
Attach the door and put on locks.

Materials/hardware required:
Hinges
Deadbolts
Screws, Driver

Step 8:
Decorate

Step 9:
Put the animal inside.
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, salamander, 3 tarantulas
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pat
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Re: LARGE Enclosure for BURROWERS

Postby pat » Mon Oct 31, 2016 7:06 am

wow Ash, you outdid yourself on these ideas :lol:

really great idea. lots of work and money there. but, will sure be worth it when finished.
just curious, why will you fill all or some of the cement blocks with cement?
it is a good idea though.

digging that size pen by hand will be a lot of work. if anyone you know can drive a tractor or small backhoe,
you can rent one. it might be or might not be cheaper than hiring someone :shrug:
if you have any tractor places near by, some rent out tractors and small backhoes.
if you rent it on a saturday, you should be able to pay a price for one day.
that is how it is here.

I think a full roof or partial roof is a good idea. just my opinion.

thank you for taking your time to post your great idea.
Pat (Sybil and Benny's Mom)

http://sybilsden.com Sybils Den
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Ash
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Re: LARGE Enclosure for BURROWERS

Postby Ash » Mon Oct 31, 2016 2:55 pm

Some of the blocks will need to have cement in them to actually hold the wall together. But the reason why I would leave a lot of the holes uncemented and just put rocks down them is because the wall doesn't need to be super strong. Filling each hole with cement completely is going to be a LOT of cement and money, and it's pointless to do because of the nature of this particular wall. It won't be a true retaining wall, and it will be underground. So the dirt on either side will be holding it together mostly.

Cement only needs to be poured down a few of the holes to keep it strong. If this were a tall wall above ground, it would be different.

Hope that explains it.

I do know people who own tractors and backhoes around me, so I'd probably be paying them to come out and do it. I think the time it would take for me to learn how to use it properly while renting it would be a waste of money. But thanks for the suggestions. :)

The roof for this one doesn't have to be as sturdy since the animals I'd be putting in it don't climb or chew. If someone wants to build an enclosure like this, the roof will be determined by what species will be housed in it. :)
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, salamander, 3 tarantulas
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Re: LARGE Enclosure for BURROWERS

Postby TamanduaGirl » Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:43 pm

This is great info. I know some have no idea where to star for making an enclosure. I sometimes send people to your other enclosure thread who are asking about how to make one.

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