Ah, the mighty shelled warriors. Tortoises might look laid back, but keeping one as a pet can bring a huge personality into your home. Here’s everything you need to know about keeping a tortoise as a pet.
Tortoises usually do best in tables as the glass of vivariums can stress them out. Most prefer to be kept on a soil and sand mixture that is at least a few inches deep. Yes, tortoises love to dig! Once they are larger, some benefit from housing outdoors, but you need to make sure that you provide a wire mesh, so they aren’t disturbed by other animals and that the sides are dug into the ground, so your tortoise doesn’t dig down and escape.
Your tortoise’s diet will all depend on the breed you get, but most have the same base diet. This often includes fresh weeds that can be collected from the yard, including dandelion and clover. Some also like fresh vegetables and leafy greens that can be bought from the store. However, other tortoises need fruit as part of their diet, and some even need a little meat on offer every now and then.
While they might look like moving rocks, all tortoises are different. In fact, some have huge personalities! Males are more prone to being a little pushy as they might ram others when they feel threatened or are trying to be dominant. To top it off, some love activities like bath time or getting out in the yard while some prefer a quiet life where they are left to their own devices.
Most tortoises start out around the size of the palm of our hand. However, they all grow to different sizes – some as small as dinner plates and other several feet in length. Horsefield and Hermann’s tortoises tend to be some of the smaller breeds. Aldabra tortoises are some of the largest and heaviest as they usually grow to four feet long, while sulcata tortoises typically reach three feet in length. It’s important to consider how large your tortoise will grow to ensure you have room for them.
Each tortoise also comes with other lists of needs to make sure they are healthy and happy. Most breeds require items such as calcium blocks or cuttlefish shells to get the calcium they need and keep their beaks trimmed. Plus, it’s important to make sure your tortoise’s nails never get too long. It’s best to check your local veterinary clinics to ensure you have a medical professional on hand in case something happens or for regular check-ups.
Keeping a tortoise as a pet might not be everyone’s first choice. However, these shelled friends typically have huge personalities and can be a great addition to the home. All it takes is a little research to make sure you’re welcoming the best breed for your lifestyle. Just remember: a tortoise really is for life!