For a long time, tortoises have been popular pets. A pet tortoise seems like the ideal lazy mans pet, a pet without too much hassle. The problem is, this is not true. Despite appearances tortoises are very fragile. It is extremely easy to go wrong looking after a tortoise. Tortoises need a lot of attention, research and preparation. You have to know what food, habitat, equipment, etc to provide. Preparing to hibernate your tortoise requires weeks of planning. You will find owning a tortoise to be very rewarding, but before you go out and buy a tortoise, you must do your research.

What to Expect

  • Tortoises are a long-term commitment. Tortoises which are well cared for can be expected to live for 50 years (some species can live to be 100!). So make sure you are prepared to have a pet for a long, long time.

  • All tortoises should have exposure to ultraviolet light, either through the use of UVA/UVB producing bulbs (i.e. those designed for reptile keeping) or through natural exposure to sunlight (consider housing your tortoise outside, many tortoise keepers use outdoor pens, if they live in an appropriate climate).

  • Some tortoises can grow fairly large and need correspondingly large tanks or enclosures. Make sure you do the appropriate research on the species of tortoise you want and plan ahead. As tortoises live so long it is necessary to plan years in advance in some case.

  • Box tortoises do best if they can be in outdoor pens for at least part of the year.

  • Most tortoises need a variety of foods including fresh vegetables. Even for species were formulated food is available, this should only make up a portion of the diet. One important myth about feeding tortoises is fruit, most species of tortoises can not handle eating too much fruit.

  • Large tortoises can produce a lot of waste, and can be pretty messy.

  • Most tortoises need to hibernate, which is sometimes quite stressful for the tortoise and again, is an area which needs plenty of preparation (weeks in advance!).

  • Tortoises are not great for young kids due the amount of care they need and the potential risk of Salmonella infection.