How To Take Care Of A Tortoise

If you’re someone who loves reptiles, then you might find tortoises to be really interesting pets. Normally, tortoises spend most of their time on land, and in the wild, they tend to live in areas that are close to bodies of water. 

They are known for their longevity and can live for several decades, even up to a century or more. They are popular as pets but require a lot of care and attention to ensure their well-being.

In this blog post, we will discuss the care guide for a tortoise, the types of tortoises that people kept as pets, and their habitat setup.

To begin our exploration of pet tortoises, let’s take a closer look at the different types of tortoises people mostly keep as their pets.

small tortoise
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1. Types of tortoises people keep as a pet

If you are thinking about having a tortoise, it can be a rewarding experience, but choosing the right species is crucial for their well-being.

  1. The Russian tortoise is a small herbivorous tortoise known for its friendly personality and hardy nature.
  2. Hermann’s tortoises are slightly larger than Russian tortoises and have a gentle temperament, making them ideal for outdoor enclosures in warmer climates.
  3. The Greek tortoise is similar in size and dietary needs to Russian and Hermann’s tortoises but can be sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity.
  4. Sulcata tortoises are one of the largest tortoise species and require a large outdoor enclosure with plenty of space to move around and a specific diet of hay, grasses, and leafy vegetables. They are best suited for experienced keepers.
  5. The Leopard tortoise is a medium-sized tortoise that is active and curious and requires a large outdoor enclosure to explore.
  6. Red-footed tortoises are known for their colorful shells and friendly personalities and require a diet of both plant and animal matter.
  7. The African spurred tortoise is a hardy species that requires a large outdoor enclosure with plenty of space to move around, a specific diet of hay, grasses, and leafy vegetables, and can live for over 70 years.

Before deciding to keep a tortoise as a pet, it’s really important to do some research first. You need to find out which species of tortoise will be happiest and healthiest in the place where you live.

You also need to make sure that you can give your tortoise the right kind of food to eat and a good home to live in. Don’t bring a tortoise home until you’re sure you can take good care of it!

2. Habitat setup for your tortoise

Tortoises are cold-blooded reptiles that require a suitable habitat to regulate their body temperature, move around and hide.

So if you want to keep your tortoise healthy and happy, you’ll need to create the right home for them. Here are a few helpful tips:

2.1 Home

A young tortoise can do well in a smaller enclosure, but as they get bigger, it will need more space where it can walk, burrow, and bask in the sun.

The enclosure should be at least four times the size of your tortoise, and outdoor enclosures should be protected from predators and escape.

2.2 Bedding

Choose bedding that matches your tortoise’s natural habitat. For example, a mix of soil, sand, and coconut coir can work well for species from dry regions. Ensure the bedding is deep enough for burrowing and easy to clean.

2.3 Temperature

Tortoises need a warm basking spot of around 85-95°F (29-35°C) during the day and a cooler area of 70-80°F (21-27°C) at night. The temperature requirements can vary depending on the species, so it’s important to research your tortoise’s specific needs.

Regular monitoring of the temperature is essential to ensure your tortoise’s health and well-being.

2.4 Lighting

These reptile animal needs access to natural sunlight or UVB light to absorb calcium and stay healthy.

Provide a basking spot for your tortoise to soak up light and heat, and keep the temperature in the enclosure appropriate for your species.

2.5 Water

Your tortoises need access to clean water at all times. You can provide a shallow water dish for them to soak in, which will also help them stay hydrated.

Make sure to clean the water dish regularly to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria

2.6 Hiding spots

Tortoises will enjoy having a safe place to hide. Provide a few hiding spots, like overturned pots or rocks, for your tortoise to retreat to. Remember, creating the right home for your tortoise is essential to its well-being.

Do your research to understand your species’ needs and create a habitat that mirrors their natural environment as much as possible.

3. How To Take Care Of A Tortoise?

Keeping a tortoise as a pet can be very satisfying, but it needs a lot of work and careful attention. These interesting animals can live for many years if they are given the right care, so it’s important to learn as much as you can before getting one as a pet. 

Below, we will give you some tips on how to look after a tortoise so that it stays healthy and happy.

3.1 Diet

Tortoises are plant-eating animals, so they need a diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits. Some good options for their diet include leafy greens like kale, collard greens, mustard greens, and dandelion greens, as well as vegetables like squash and endive. Berries are also a good addition to their diet.

However, there are some foods that are harmful to tortoises and should be avoided. These include iceberg lettuce, spinach, and rhubarb, which can cause health problems for your tortoise. Besides the food they normally eat, it’s crucial to give your tortoise a calcium supplement

3.2 Health 

Just like any other pet, it’s important to keep an eye on your tortoise’s health and well-being. Regular health check-ups with a veterinarian who specializes in reptile care can help you catch any potential health issues early and prevent them from becoming more serious.

Some common signs that your tortoise may be sick include a lack of appetite, lethargy, runny nose or eyes, and abnormal behavior. For example, if your tortoise is usually active but suddenly becomes very still and doesn’t move much, this could be a sign that something is wrong.

If you notice any of these signs or any other unusual behavior in your tortoise, then take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

A reptile veterinarian can examine your tortoise and run any necessary tests to determine if there is an underlying health issue.

By catching and treating any health problems early, you can help ensure that your tortoise remains healthy and content for years to come.

3.3 Interaction

While tortoises may not be as interactive as some other pets, they can still enjoy spending time with their owners and can even form a bond with them. However, it’s important to handle them properly to avoid causing them stress or injury.

When interacting with your tortoise, handle them gently and do not to over-handle them. While some tortoises may enjoy being held, others may find it stressful or uncomfortable. If your tortoise seems agitated or upset, it’s best to put them back in its enclosure and give them some space.

It’s crucial to support its body properly and avoid picking them up by its legs or tail when handling them. This can cause them discomfort or even injury. Instead, support their shell and gently scoop them up from underneath.

Overall, interaction with your tortoise can be a great way to bond with your pet and provide them with some mental stimulation. Be respectful of your tortoise’s needs and preferences and handle them gently and with care.

Remember tortoises can exist for many years, so it’s very important to make a long-lasting commitment to their well being


In this article we have discussed the world of tortoise care, exploring different types of tortoises that people keep as pets, as well as their habitat setups.

We hope that these insights will be valuable to you in providing the best care for your tortoise. Thank you for taking the time to read and enrich your knowledge.


Can I keep multiple tortoises together?

In general, it’s not recommended to keep multiple tortoises together, as they can become aggressive toward each other and compete for resources. 

If you do keep multiple tortoises together, make sure to provide enough space and resources for each tortoise to have its own territory.

How to take care of baby tortoises?

You should keep them in a smaller enclosure with a basking area, a hiding area, and a water dish. Provide a temperature gradient with a basking area between 90-95°F and a cooler area between 75-85°F. 

Use UVB lighting to help them absorb calcium and other nutrients. Feed them fresh fruits and vegetables, including dark leafy greens, and offer a calcium supplement. Ensure they have access to clean, fresh water and handle them gently and only when necessary. 

Take them to a vet for regular check-ups and fecal exams to catch any health issues early.

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