A Little About Tortoises
Looking for that awesome reptile that has just as much personality as your dog? Look no further!! Tortoises are definitely what you are looking for and are by far our favorite reptile. Not only do they follow you around like puppy dogs and respond to you, but they will also cut your grass free of charge!! Tortoises are a great addition to the family and can be passed down for generations. Be prepared, these guys will out live you! Some species even get well over 100 pounds!! Selecting which type of Tortoise will fit your family best based on size, diet, and environmental needs is imperative to having the right pet for you and a happy, healthy tortoise. Because we deal in several species of tortoises and we are limited on space I will go over a few key details and there will be links for recommended care sheets to help you in your research and deciding which one is best for you.
Leopard Tortoises are another species native to Africa. These guys can live 70-100 years and reach 18+ inches. These guys are known for their leopard like pattern on the carapace. These guys are mainly grazers and love to graze on grasses, weeds, hay, flowers, Mazuri, and fresh greens. These guys prefer hotter temps so they are a great option for Southern And Western States. Since they stay a manageable size they can easily be brought in for the winter or stay outside if provided with a proper heated house. They are a pretty laid back tortoise and are not prone to dig unless laying eggs.
Red Footed Tortoise
Red Foots are a tropical tortoise from South America. These guys typically get up to 20 inches and can live 50-80 years. They love the humidity and rain here in the south especially Florida. Since these guys are tropical they must have a heated shelter or be brought in depending on your location. They must be brought inside in the northern states during cold weather. Red Foots mainly feed on fresh greens, veggies, fruits, Mazuri, flowers, and will occasionally graze on fresh grass. These guys are also very laid back and are not destructive or diggers. They love to have a soaking pond and enjoy afternoon soaks during high heat.
Russian And Hermann's Tortoises
Russian And Herman's Tortoises are some of the smaller species of tortoises commonly kept as pets. Due to their smaller size, they make a great choice for someone limited on space or without a large yard. They can also easily be kept inside in a tortoise table. Russians are from Central Asia And Hermann's can be found in Southern Europe. These guys can withstand a wide range in temperatures which makes them a great choice in any part of the USA. A lot of outdoor keepers let these guys hibernate in the colder months. These tortoises feed mainly on leafy greens and plants as well as flowers, weeds, and Mazuri. These guys can live 50+ years with males reaching 6-8 inches and females 12-14 inches. Russian And Hermann's are prone to burrow and are good at climbing so a secure area is a must.
Diet tends to be one of the most argued subjects when it comes to tortoises. When doing research you will see different opinions and lots of different info. Some people may say something is safe while others will fight that it isn't. Some say feed strictly veggies, and others say a pellet diet is fine. We recommend doing the proper research and making your best educated decision when it comes to these things because most of it comes down to peoples opinions. As far as to our opinion and what we recommend, we say when feeding your tortoises it is best to ensure they are receiving a wide variety of things in their diet. The more variety, the healthier and happier your tortoise will be. We like to feed lots of greens, grass, weeds, hay, Mazuri (Pelleted Diet), and fruits and proteins to our tropical species. Bellow is a break down of some of what we recommend each tortoise have.
Sulcata And Leopard Tortoises
Russian And Hermann's Tortoises
Other Important Diet And Health Tips
Below is a link for The Tortoise Table. It is a great tool to use when shopping for foods to feed or when checking for poisonous plants in your yard. Just type in the name and is will let you know whether it is safe or not to feed. When researching lists of safe foods to feed you will find conflicting answers. Do not stress to much about that. Just remember that as long as it is fed in moderation and as part of a varied diet they will do fine with it. Remember, variety is key to their health.
Without proper diet tortoises can develop Metabolic Bone Disease which can be fatal and also severe pyramiding and shell deformation which can hinder the tortoise's ability to get around. Besides feeding a good varied diet, tortoises must ingest a good amount of calcium. They must either have access to a cuddle bone to chew on or your must sprinkle a reptile calcium supplement on their food.
We recommend that you feed your tortoises on a piece of slate rock or tile. This helps them file their beak down while eating. A overgrown beak can cause you tortoise to be unable to eat properly.
Last but not least is watering your tortoise. I recommend with small hatchling tortoises that you soak them in shallow warm water every day for 10-15 minutes. As hatchlings they are usually to small to be able to get in and out of a water bowl so soaking daily is best. Once they exceed 4 inches you can reduce it to every other day and provide a shallow dish or tortoise specific water bowl. Larger tortoises can be soaked twice a week in the bathtub or if kept outside they can have access to a very shallow wading pond for soaking and drinking.
Safe Plant And Foods Database
Proper housing is imperative to having a healthy, happy tortoise. There are many options when it comes to enclosures.
We find that it is best to house hatchling sulcata, leopards, and red footed tortoises in aquariums to start out. Remember these guys grow relatively fast so get one with some size so the do not outgrow it as quick. Aquariums help hold in heat and humidity which benefit these tortoises growth. Humidity helps their shell grow at a even smooth rate and helps keep them from drying out in the heat. When using an aquarium be sure to put a border all the way around the bottom edge. If the babies can see out they tend to pace at the edge and try to escape which can be stressful for them.
For baby Russians and Hermann's we recommend a tortoise table like the bottom two pictures posted above. These tortoises are much more tolerant to a wide range of temperatures so tables are the perfect option for them.
Once your tortoise reaches proper size to be kept outdoors during suitable weather, we recommend enclosures like the top two pictures posted above and the two below. The smaller tortoises will still need some protection from predators so a mesh top is advised. Solid walled enclosures are best so the tortoises can not see out. If they can see out they will try to get out.
In the winter you will want to make sure that if your tortoise is going to stay outside it has a suitable heated shelter. If not then a larger tortoise table built to suit the size of your tortoise will work well for the winter indoors.
Bellow is a list of items you will need for housing your tortoise indoors and out.