Are you in the market for a pet tortoise? They are an enchanting species, walking the Earth with dinosaurs millions of years ago! They date back to prehistoric times and have very specific needs due to their specialized development. However, tortoises make great pets if they are cared for properly. There are a few things to consider before adding this species into your family:

First, decide which tortoise breed best fits your lifestyle. Bell, Forest Hingeback and Russian Tortoises are smaller at about 6” – 8.5”. Red Foot Tortoises are in the middle range at 12” – 14” while African Spur Thighs, can grow to weigh over 150 pounds!

Next, it’s time to find the right housing and accessories. Aquariums and critter cages are suitable for very small or young tortoises. Medium to larger sized tortoises do best outdoors. Pens with wire mesh bottoms allow grass to poke through, providing easy access to food while a large shelter inside the pen creates protection from the elements and extreme conditions. Tortoises need UV rays to thrive, so keep yours outside as much as possible! There is no better substitute for UV rays than the sun.

Supplies for Your Tortoise:

As with all other pets, supplies are a must for your new tortoise. When indoors, tortoises need a basking light for energy and a fluorescent UVB bulb for processing vitamins and minerals. The basking bulbs need to be of the proper wattage to provide optimal heat for your pet. Make sure to change UVB fluorescent bulbs  every 6-8 months to preserve the integrity of the UVB rays!

Additionally, tortoises also need a heating pad. It aides in digestion and provides some belly warmth! Lastly, you’ll want to get a large water bowl for drinking or soaking. Just make sure to change the water on a daily basis! It is also a good idea to soak your tortoise every day (or every other) to keep them hydrated and clean.

Feeding Your Tortoise:

Baby and young tortoises require some additional care to grow healthy and strong, so make sure to feed the appropriate diet of soft, crispy food like leafy greens. As their jaws develop, you can add more solid, crunchy foods like fruits. As grown adults, many will readily eat dark, leafy vegetables, as well as some traditional reptile food of fruits, crickets, earthworms, and grasses. Calcium and vitamin supplements are also a must. Shallow bowls and dishes help prevent your tortoise from accidentally eating any bedding.  Each tortoise requires different bedding based on the species, size and housing environment!

Tortoises are a long term commitment. Do your research to find the best companion for your budget, lifestyle and family! In many cases they will outlive their owners, as their lifespan is anywhere for 30-100 years! Each species will have specific care requirements, but with these basic tips, you can begin your way to a long and healthy relationship with your new tortoise!

About The Author Giselle Rodriguez

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