If you love reptiles, you may have toyed with the idea of owning a pet tortoise. These are truly fascinating creatures, having lived alongside the dinosaurs. Over millions of years of evolution, tortoises have grown to require fairly specific needs. However, they can be loving and fairly low-maintenance pets if you approach tortoise care in the right way. Here are a few things to think about before getting your tortoise.
Choosing a breed
Tortoises are very diverse animals, and different breeds will work better for different lifestyles. Russian, Bell, and Forest Hingeback tortoises are fairly small, growing up to 8.5”. Red Foots are a mid-range breed, growing up to 14”, while African Spur Thighs are a notably large breed, with some adults weighing well over 150 pounds. While vivariums and similar enclosures are fine for young tortoises and particularly small breeds, most will require some outdoor space to keep them in.
As with any unusual pets, you need to ensure you have all the right supplies to keep your tortoise happy and healthy in its new home. When kept indoors, your tortoise will need a basking light to draw energy from, as well as a florescent UVB light to help it process vitamins and minerals healthily. To ensure the UVB rays are enough for your tortoise, set reminders to yourself to change them once every 6-8 months. A large water bowl is needed for drinking and soaking. Finally, your tortoise will need a heating pad. This will warm its belly, and help with its digestion.
Like many other animals, infant and adolescent tortoises will need extra nutritional care to help them grow healthily. To this end, make sure you’re keeping them on a balanced diet of crispy, easily-digestible food, like grasses and leafy green vegetables. It’s also a good idea to get them some calcium and vitamin supplements. As their jaws mature, you can move them onto more solid foods like fruits. Fully-grown tortoises will be able to manage darker leafy greens, along with a wider range of go-to reptile food, such as fruits, earthworms, and crickets. If you’re ever unsure of what you should be giving your tortoise based on their age and breed, consult your vet.
Find out more about caring for your pet tortoise…