Tortoises are part of the Chelonian species. The Greek word Chelona refers to Turtles and Tortoises whether their habitat is on land or in the ocean. Specifically for us here the term Tortoise refers to chelonians that live on the land as opposed to in the water. Although Tortoises do like to bathe and of course drink!
If you are just thinking about getting a Tortoise for a more unusual pet or already have one, here you will find information and help in caring for your tortoise. There are many factors to consider when choosing a Tortoise as they may at first glance appear to be almost ‘maintenance free’ but they do in fact need a lot of care and expenditure, at least at first to ensure they are healthy and long lived.
There are many sizes of Tortoise to choose from ranging from little tiny ones weighing less than a pound to 600lbs! Not all are suitable or legal to have as domestic pets so you must be aware of what type you are looking for and if it is possible or practical to have that particular one. If you are not sure what type of size of tortoise you want to buy or care for look simply go online help. When you are contemplating caring for a tortoise there are a number of factors to consider. Here you will find a lot of information useful to you in this decision but if you wish to know more in depth please join our 10-day free e-course or get the downloadable e-book.
Common to all tortoises is that they are herbivores (plant eaters). This too may seem to be an easy option if you are still in the deciding phase of wondering if you can care for tortoises full time. However, a tortoise’s diet is very important and knowing the correct food to give them is very important to their health. You will need to understand nutritional values of different foods available to you.
A tortoise’s hard shell helps protect them from predators but it must be noted that they are still vulnerable to predators picking through their shell. If you choose to house your tortoise outside this must be taken into consideration. Also, of course, your other pets such as cats and dogs will harm the tortoise if left unattended for long periods. If you want to know more about what sort of tortoise house to build, whether it be a wooden enclosure or a glass vivarium you will find this information and some ideas on the Habitat page as well as in the downloadable e-Book.
Understanding the tortoise as a species is also of course very important. Tortoises are ectothermic. That is they are reptiles and therefore cold-blooded. They must rely on external heat i.e. from the sun or for some artificial heat supply to warm themselves. It is important that you understand what each different species of chelonian requires before you decide on the specific one to choose for your lifestyle and budget. Again this information will be available to you on the Habitat page here or in the e-Book.
Of course, the tortoise’s uniqueness is what attracts many owners to deciding to choose a Tortoise for a pet. There is a danger of being drawn into buying many different types and species of tortoise once you have one! However, there are factors to consider if you are wanting to buy more than one tortoise. Tortoise does not like to live together, there is also the tortoise health to consider. If you mix and match there can be health implications. If you are thinking of buying more than one tortoise please again look at the Habitat and Health pages.
Long term care for your tortoise is important as life expectancy for a tortoise can exceed 75-100 years so this is a long term commitment! This is why it is important to understand the nutritional and environmental needs fully before deciding to buy a tortoise for a pet. There are species of tortoise that are endangered and it is necessary to ‘do your homework’ on who and where you decide to obtain or buy your tortoise from. The initial cost which could be anything from $50-$5000 is only the beginning! Although some tortoises do prefer to live outside (depending on the environment) they will need a secure and escape proof space with wooden or concrete walls. A traditional garden fence will not be durable and enough to ‘hold’ your tortoise. As a rule, a tortoise will need a minimum of 3 square yards of space for every 12 inches of length. Also, if you decide to house a tortoise you will need a heat source which is a specialized heat lamp obviously incurring a significant increase in your electricity bills!