While tortoises are cute exotic animals and can be a good addition to your family, there are some important things you need to know about them before purchasing one as a pet. Knowing the difference between a turtle and a tortoise is a good place to start. One difference being is that their legs are adapted to fit the environment each species prefers.
Tortoises have more of a rounded and domed-looking shell and prefer land, while turtles are more adapted to live in water. In addition, there are many different species of tortoises with different life needs, so choose one based on your lifestyle. Whichever choice you make it’s recommended that you find a veterinarian who has experience in caring for reptiles.
The Right Environment for Your Tortoise
If the state you live in is warm and has plenty of sunshine for the majority of the year, it’s okay for you to keep your tortoise outdoors. Before setting up an outdoor tortoise enclosure, you must make sure that it’s protected from predators such as cats, dogs, and foxes. The enclosure should be surrounded by a landscape of edible plants, and enough exposure will allow your tortoise to bask in the sun.
Although it’s not ideal, the right climate for your indoor tortoise enclosure must be kept at a temperature between 77-95° Fahrenheit during the day, and no lower than 63° Fahrenheit during the night. You’ll also need to provide a basking spot in the sun that reaches up to 122° Fahrenheit.
You must provide them with the right humidity and an opportunity to sunbathe via UVB and direct sunlight. Either way, the enclosure must be located in an area with soft soil since they like to dig caves and tunnels.
Do Tortoises Need A Companion?
Tortoises naturally tend to be loners, but it’s fine to keep two tortoises in one enclosure, provided you follow the gender rules and monitor them closely for the first few weeks.
For one tortoise, it will need space to wander and thrive in an enclosure with at least 3×5 feet for a smaller one. Just know that some species can grow to 150 pounds and 36 inches in diameter in 8-10 years. So, make sure the enclosure is at least 12 inches taller than the tortoise so it can’t climb out.
What Do Tortoises Eat?
They love dandelions, so planting this plant within its enclosure will help keep your tortoise happy all day. A fresh, daily selection of mustard and collard greens, kale, sweet potato, cauliflower, green or yellow bell pepper, and even squash is also acceptable to eat. Tortoise food and added calcium blocks, when necessary, should also be a part of its diet.
An Enduring Relationship
Owning a tortoise as a pet is a big commitment, but not only that, caring for one can be a rewarding experience. If this sounds like you, you can have a tortoise as a pet and a friend for 100 years!