Tortoise Pets

Tortoises make very great pets, and if you decide to keep them you may be inspired to learn more about their conservation and welfare. Keeping them, however, requires a bit of attention.

Outdoor enclosure


Tortoises are particularly long-lived animals, which are presumed to live as long as 70-100 years. In order to keep your tortoise in a temperate climate, the pen must be placed in a very sunny location. The floor should consist of soil as in the wild to enable burying and thermoregulation. Their life pattern in captivity is the same as in the wild. They leave the house in the early morning to warm themselves and then begin to eat. The most important part of the pen is a large water proof tortoise house that they can use as a shelter. This should be a weatherproof box with an openable roof and an entry way for the animals. They should be provided with a wide range of edible materials and a shallow water dish. They eat for about an hour before returning to the house. Tortoises can be kept outdoors approximately from April to the end of October. The tortoise house must be relatively large. It should be made of wood and have no floor to enable the tortoise to thermoregulate its own body temperature via burying itself. Other materials will produce a house that is too hot or too cold. Inside the Tortoise house should be a heat lamp operated by a thermostatic control and a UV lamp 5% or above for the cooler and rainy days. A vitamin and calcium supplement must be added to the food every other day we find Nutrabol is great for this and we always try to leave a cuttlefish bone in the enclosure for the Tortoise to chew on.


A tortoise also needs to have a healthy diet. They are known to have very long life spans, but it is essential that what they are fed is appropriate so that they can stay healthy and nourished.

Tortoise food

tortoise 1

There is immense confusion and misinformation about what to feed tortoises. I have seen many websites and pet stores disseminating completely wrong advice and I have some pretty shocking deformities in tortoises resulting from bad nutrition. This need not be the case, as the basics of tortoise nutrition can be understood in ten minutes. This article will give you those basics. Of course, there is much to learn beyond the basics. You could spend years studying the biochemical and micronutrient requirements of a tortoise and it is impossible to give guidelines that are correct for every species of tortoise at all times. Expert keepers adjust diet based on species, age, sex, activity levels and time of year. All I can give here are some general guidelines. Having said that, if you follow these guidelines, you will still be doing better than 90% of the tortoise keepers out there! The first thing you need to know is that there are herbivorous tortoises and omnivorous ones. The herbivorous ones must only ever be fed plants. Other species are omnivorous and will take insects, snails and slugs, but can also be raised successfully on a plant-only diet. (Humans are omnivorous, but can survive without eating meat. Omnivorous tortoises are the same.)

For the purposes of this article, I will divide all tortoises up into two broad categories: tropical tortoises
(whose Latin names begin with geochelone), which are omnivorous and Mediterranean tortoises (whose Latin names begin with testudo), which are herbivorous. (For those of you keeping desert tortoises (gopherus agassizii), everything I say here about Mediterranean tortoises also applies to them.) It would be better to consider each species individually, but this is only an introductory article and that would take too long. I strongly encourage you to find out as much as possible about the specific requirements of the species you have. A more in-depth guide is given in Practical Tortoise Care. It is absolutely fundamental for all tortoise keepers to know for sure what species their tortoise is. (Believe it or not, there are people who buy tortoises from pet stores without knowing which species they’re buying.) In general, a tortoise’s diet should be high in fiber, high in calcium, low in phosphorous, high in other minerals, low in fat and low in protein. Read that sentence again. Memorize it. Calcium, fiber and minerals: good. Phosphorous, protein and fat: bad.