The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Tortoises are among some of the most popular pets around due to the fact that they can live a long time, are easy to take care of, and are just plain adorable. Tortoises are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and insects or certain animals such as fish.
In the wild, tortoises eat mostly plants, depending on where they live. Tortoises are good at adapting to their eco-systems, which means they will find something to eat no matter what their environment is.
In captivity, however, tortoises will eat just about anything you feed them. This isn’t to say that they should though.
What Can I Feed My Pet Tortoise?
When feeding your pet, be sure to avoid giving them fruits. Although your tortoise will happily take it, it’s not good for it due to the amount of sugar that fruit contains. A high-sugar diet can negatively affect your tortoise’s organ functions over time, so it’s important to try and keep sugar out of your pet’s diet.
It’s no secret that tortoises love vegetables, particularly leafy greens. Be sure to feed them dark leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, and spinach as these have the most fiber in them.
If you want to add a little color into their lives, you can feed your tortoise bell peppers, squash, sweet potatoes and cauliflower. Tortoises like variety, so be sure to switch up their diet every once in a while.
Be sure that the foods you are feeding your tortoises are high in nutrients, particularly in calcium. Calcium is necessary for tortoises because it’s what keeps their shell and the eggs they lay healthy and strong.
If you feel like your tortoise isn’t getting enough vitamins and minerals via their diet, you can always include supplements into its diet to make sure it is getting what it needs. Calcium powders as well as reptile multivitamins can be easily found at pet food stores, but be sure to talk to your vet if you have any questions.
What Environment Should Tortoises Be Kept in?
The environment that your tortoise lives in is just as important as the food that you feed it. For your tortoise to be happy, it should live in a terrarium that has about 50 gallons in volume. This is so that it has enough room to grow and roam around in.
Be sure that you have put a well-ventilated lid on top of the terrarium so that your tortoise can’t escape.
Be sure that your pet’s terrarium is placed in a spot where it can get enough sun. Tortoises love to get as much sun as they possibly can, needing about 12 hours a day. If you can’t keep your tortoise next to enough sunlight, you can always purchase a UV light bulb to use in its tank.
Temperature wise, it all depends on the type of tortoise that you have. Tortoises that are native to warmer climates will obviously prefer their tanks to be kept at a warmer temperature.
There are other types of tortoises, such as the Greek tortoise for example, that prefer a cooler climate and one that has 80% humidity.
Be sure to include lots of dirt and sand in their tank for them to be more comfortable. Tortoises also enjoy climbing on top of rocks and large sticks so a happy tortoise is one that has these accessible to it.
Surprisingly, tortoises cannot swim and therefore shouldn’t be placed in a tank where they could possibly drown.
As tortoises get bigger, some people may house their pets outside, where they have more space to roam freely. If you plan on doing this, be sure to keep in mind a few things. First, make sure that there is enough shade around for your tortoise to seek shelter from the sun.
As much as they love sunning themselves, they do need a break from the sun’s rays every once in a while.
Be sure that your tortoise enclosure isn’t located someplace where predators can easily get to it. You also want to make sure that despite being kept outside, they are kept in an enclosure for their own safety.
Tortoises are known for their love of digging tunnels, so be sure to house your pet near soil that it can dig in. If kept outside, make sure that there is an adequate amount of rocks and logs for your tortoise to climb on.
If you’re growing a garden, be sure not to place your tortoises next to it as they will eat any vegetation that’s nearby. If it rains, make sure your tortoises have a place to seek shelter from the water.
Can Tortoises Cohabitate Together?
Tortoises aren’t typically social creatures and therefore don’t need a partner to be happy. If you do insist on having more than one tortoise as a pet, however, be sure to put only tortoises of the same species in the same tank.
This is because other types of tortoises can pass along parasites and other types of infections.
Tortoises that are significantly different in size should also not be put together as this could start a confrontation, particularly between two male tortoises.
Speaking of habitat, some tortoises tend to be more sensitive than others. For example, if you’re someone that moves around a lot, your tortoise could be easily stressed out as a result.
Do as much research as you can on different types of tortoises before choosing the right one for you. Different types of tortoises also require different habitats and diets, so be sure to ask a vet what best suits your particular type of turtle.
Be sure that when you get a new tortoise, you are cleaning it thoroughly as many new reptiles can contain parasites or bacteria that can be passed on to humans.
Lifespan of a Tortoise
Unlike dogs or cats, a tortoise can be capable of outliving their human owners. The typical lifespan of a tortoise is anywhere between 50 to 100 years, which means these guys will be in your life for quite some time.
That’s certainly something to consider when thinking about adopting one as a pet.
Aside from the fact that they can live for such a long time, a tortoise can also grow to be very large. This means you will have to constantly update your tank and make sure you are getting one that your tortoise can grow into.
Otherwise, your tortoise will outgrow their tank and it won’t be fun for either of you.
Common Health Problems in Tortoises
Despite the fact that tortoises can live for a long time, it doesn’t mean they are immune to illness. As a matter of fact, tortoises are prone to respiratory infections that are typically caused by unsavory habitats.
If you don’t clean your pet’s tank often enough, it could result in an infection for your pet.
As mentioned earlier, it’s vital that tortoises receive their daily dose of calcium intake. This is due to the fact that they rely on calcium for their shells as well as their bones. Tortoises also are susceptible to metabolic bone disease, which can cause their bones to disintegrate.
Aside from feeding them multivitamins and keeping them on a diet that is high in calcium, be sure to expose your tortoise to ultraviolet radiation, as this is one of the ways in which they absorb calcium.
Not getting enough calcium can prove to be incredibly devastating for your tortoise. Although a vet may be able to tell you more about whether or not your tortoise has a calcium deficiency, many owners are able to tell by simply looking at their pet’s shell.
A tortoise that is still developing, but lacking calcium in its diet, will experience a slower rate in its shell growth. An older tortoise may show signs differently. For example, it may have a hard time walking or be prone to leg fractures more often than not.
The sooner you catch these problems, the easier it will be to take care of them.
Types of Tortoises
There are over 60 different species of tortoises around the world, but for the most part only a small number of those species are kept as pets. These include the Greek tortoise, Hermann’s tortoise, Indian Star tortoise, Leopard tortoise, Red-footed tortoise, Russian tortoise, and sulcata tortoise.
Male and female tortoises tend to have very different temperaments from one another. Males are more on the aggressive side, while females cohabitate with both male and female tortoises perfectly fine.
Because of how aggressive male tortoises can be, it’s important that you don’t keep two males together. Males can cohabitate together so long as there is a female tortoise involved, but even then it’s important to place them in a tank that’s big enough for all of them to have their own space.
When handling your tortoise, it’s important to keep in mind that at the end of the day it is still an animal, and it should be handled with caution.