Tell me about owning a tortoise…

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  • Tell me about owning a tortoise…
  • monotokpoint

    I had one when I as a child and it 'ran' away. Seriously, we lost it. I remember it hibernating over most of the winter in the attic and wondering around the house for the rest of the time. Quite cool thinking about it


    I had one when I as a child and it 'ran' away

    I just had an amusing moment picturing you running down the garden path, shouting "Quick everyone! It's very very slowly getting away!"

    Do you remember having a vivarium inside for it?


    Pretty sure we didn't. This was back in the 80's so not sure they were that available back then. I can't remember any special treatment for it either, although I was quite young so feeding it lettuce is about all I remember. (And painting its shell but thats another story. I'm starting to understand why it deserted us)

    Premier Icon Bunnyhop

    I wouldn't have one now.
    As a child ours was always wandering off and they're pretty fast when they get going. I think they need lots of space. Lots of salad type stuff to eat and aren't that much fun, 'cos they don't do a lot.
    They hibernate, so boring in the winter.
    This is all from memory.

    Premier Icon DezB

    Trailhound equivalent for a non-pacey rider?


    I've got a couple of terrapins, and once you've got over the initial fun of having an exotic pet they're pretty dull, really. I can't imagine tortoises would be any better.

    Premier Icon alexonabike

    We have recently been given an estimated 2 year old Horsfield Tort from a family who could not long care for it.

    We have set it up in a tortoise table as large as possible (ours is 4ft x 2ft x 9") and filled with 5" of 50/50 playsand and topsoil mix.

    A heat lamp is needed (cold blooded animals) and a strong UVB flouresent tube is needed if you are keeping them inside.

    When the wether is warm and sunny (+20 degrees C) we mov the table out side and he loves it. The UVB is needed for healthy shell development.

    We mainly feed this young-un on dandelion leaves daily sprinkled with limestone flour (calcium needed for shells) once a week.

    Depending on the breed the care can be slightly different.


    We had George the (rear) neighbours one appear in the our next door neighbours garden last summer, festy little bugger and I definitely wouldn't call them slow.
    Definite escape artist too (we have proper fences seperating all the gardens), was mighty miffed at being card board boxed until we found out where he'd come from.

    I didn't think they were that easy to get hold of any more as pets?
    No it's not…

    George was very cool, if I could get hold of one (legally) I probably would have one..


    We're looking to get a pet tortoise, but getting conflicting advice on how to care for them.

    A friend who had a pet tortoise years ago said they require minimal care, apart from the usual feeding and watering and they pretty much take care of themselves.

    However, after doing a bit of t'internet research, having a tortoise as a pet sounds like a full time job! Seems you need hundreds of pounds worth of kit, they need 'soaking' 3 times a week and you need to do a lot of complicated stuff before and after they hibernate.

    Can anyone shed some light? Thanks.


    alexonabike, so is it really time consuming? I'd really like one, but want to make sure I've the time to commit to looking after one properly before we get one.


    your skirting boards will take a hammering too. My aunt had a couple and their shells screwed the skirting so if your house proud or hate painting all the time I d think again.

    Cool pet tho.


    You could call him horace the tortiose


    I've always (well not always but for a long time!), wanted a tortoise. My mum had one when she was little and loved it. I'm just waiting 'til I've got the money (and a house!) and then I'll get one 🙂

    I think as long as you give them the right food and keep them warm they're not too difficult to care for as long as you don't let them "run" away!

    Premier Icon alexonabike

    No not massively so,

    I tend to bath mine about one a week – it helps them go to the loo!

    You could spend a lot of time adjusting this and that but I like to keep the tort calm and only adjust things if it is obvious that it is distressing the poor creature.

    In the early days it is time consuming getting the set up correct – invest in a probe thermometer (only about £5) so that you can accurately set up the temps. Across the table these should be about 10 degrees difference depending on your breed. I have the end of the table under the heatlamp around 32 degrees and the other end is room temp. This gives the tort enough of a gradient to thermoregulate,

    Each different breed of tort has different requirements, for example the Horsfield is a keen digger so needs deep substrate and a keen climber so sides of the enclosure need to be high. What ever tort you get it is unlikely to be suitable for a vivarium, despite what the petshop might say – these are far too humid environments and do not give the temperature gradient needed for thermoregulation.

    Try and by from a dedicated breeder in the UK. I was told that something like 70% of all Horsfield (Russian) torts sold in the UK were wild caught – something I am truly against.


    Almost exactly like having a pet cornish pasty.


    Thanks alexonabike, that's great advice.

    There's a UK breeder advertising in our local pet shop who has all the relevant certificates, so I think I'll give him a call 🙂

    My mum had one when she was little and loved it.

    My Mum had one when she was little too. She used to put it into a toy pram and then take it over to the park, where she'd put it on the swings for a while 😯

    Premier Icon BigJohn

    I imagine you could own it with Bombers.


    Try and by from a dedicated breeder in the UK. I was told that something like 70% of all Horsfield (Russian) torts sold in the UK were wild caught – something I am truly against.

    I was under the impression that all tortoises are protected species and wild-catching of them is illegal?

    We had one called George. So called because we found him on St. George's day.

    Not the most dynamic pet but i do remember being really quite fond of the ugly bastard.

    We used to supplement his diet of salad leaves with Ritz crackers which he absolutely loved.

    He corked it during a partcularly cold winter in a box full of straw in our shed. Bless.


    derek_starship, did you do all the temperature monitoring stuff most of the time, or did he just live in the shed the whole year round?

    we have a tortoise, Hes a noisy little bugger, i thought we where getting burgled every night till i got used to him (digging).

    All the kit was easy to set up, There is a Tortoises for Dummys book you can buy, this helped us loads.

    Weve found hibernation simple to, just watch his/her food just before and we put ours in a box in the fridge, (he managers about 3 weeks sleep)

    I really would recommend getting one and getting that book as it helped us loads with alsorts.

    Premier Icon nuke

    My parents have two tortoises and have done since I was living there as a kid…they can live to a very old age and I'm expecting to inherit them (something to consider as we're taking 100+ potentially)!

    She has a big garden and they just go in a pen with a rabbit hutch and spend most of the year outside with no problem.

    Don't believe they get washed regularly. Mostly eat lettuce, cucumber and cat food. The only issue they have had a couple of times is bee/wasp stings…they land on their neck/legs and the tortoise instinctively retracts their legs causing them to get trapped and sting. Nails can get a bit long and need clipping every now and then.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    We had one called Flash. The previous owners had painted FLASH on his shell and drilled a hole in the corner to tie a line and a weight to it 🙁

    He got horny and escaped when we had him but someone found him and brought him back. Then he died whilst hibernating.


    Tortoises for Dummys book

    That sounds good, I'll get hold of that.

    So, on the whole, everyone seems to have enjoyed having a tortoise as a pet, although some have found it a bit boring.

    Anyone got any tips on what species to get?


    The previous owners had painted FLASH on his shell and drilled a hole in the corner to tie a line and a weight to it

    That's horrible! I'm buying Tortoises for Dummies, but even I know that's wrong…


    I'd just get a rock of simliar size & keep it in a cardboard box with straw in it…..


    at a previous job we had two fellas who'd occasionally bring their tortoises in for a race around the open plan office. was great fun and many wagers were made.

    No real problems with ours as a kid. Except maybe the enclosure was a bit small and boring – she was small but a quick digger and when most active would dig tunnels under the walls of the cage and escape into next door's flower beds.

    Difficult to empathise with though. Had all the charm of rock.


    we got one recently only a few weeks old and turn his light off at night – which makes him a quiet pet youngest can keep in her bedroom
    not been washing him though – he does put himself in his water tray though which is big enough(at the moment)

    they potentially carry samonella so we have bottle of hand cleanser next to vivarium and insist kids wash hands
    compared to cleaning out goldfish/guinea pigs/hamster he is easy and i've told my 8 year old when she goes – the tortoise goes with her

    is earning air miles travelling down to run in garden to get UV


    A naked man was walking down the street with a woman on his back.

    A bloke on the other side of the road asked, "Where are you going?"

    The naked man replied, "To a fancy dress party."

    "What as?" asked the bemused gentleman.

    "A tortoise", said the naked man.

    "Well, who is the woman on your back?" said the intrigued gentleman.

    "Oh, that's Michelle!!!." the naked man explained.


    Where are you? BlairDrummond Safari Park got one handed in as the previous owner couldn't look after it…seems healthy but they are wondering where to house it…could be given to a decent and proper home if you were close enough perhaps…

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