Tortoise Care

Proper care of young tortoises, is not as easy as you may think!

Being the owner of 2 nearly two year old tortoises, I have found many people I chat to about them, know very little about their needs. Firstly Tortoises should not be kept in a glass vivarium! these get too hot inside which is dangerous. Make sure your tortoise comes from a good breeder, not a pet shop. The tortoise trust have a good list of breeders, Marcus Langford is also a good breeder, who has a website worth a look .Best to find a breeder close by so you can visit and see the care for yourself. Next is a list of things you will need before getting your tortoise. A tortoise table, a UVA/UVB lamp , a heat light , I use a 60 watt bulb hung 5-6 inches over tortoises. But you can get a dual UVA/UVB lamp which also gives out heat, these are around £30-£55 or so on EBay, but only cover a small area. I use a UVA/UVB strip bulb 10 inches over tortoises, as I have them in a large plastic rodent cage with wired top and coloured bottom, tortoises will try to walk through something they can see through, which can cause stress. Strip ones cover more of the tortoise home, they need UVB to absorb calcium! you will need substrate which can be top soil or compost mixed with children’s play sand about 3- 4 handful’s. The only thing with soil is it can cause blocking/ constipation if eaten, so feed them on a big area like newspaper or flat plastic takeaway lid. Soil should be moistened 1-2 times a week with a water spray bottle and changed weekly .However if your tortoise does eat the soil and have constipation issues you may need to use reptile carpet, but with this being a dry substrate bathing at least 2 times daily may be a must. Never use lots of shredded newspaper as a heat lamp can burn it. Sawdust is not good either really as it is too dry and can damage little eyes. For a water dish I find a Jam jar lid ideal these are also good for food if tortoises are only small. Another good food dish is the plastic lid you get with your Chinese take away. As the Tortoise gets bigger a reptile water bowl is best, so they don’t knock it over, small rock style ones are ideal. You will also need Calcium powder and Reptile vitamins , which you can get on EBay.I seem to get all my shopping on there these days! Heat mats are also needed in the colder weather a good sized one is best. With a heat mat you will be best getting a thermostat to control temp , so it does not need to be on all the time.So as you can see these are expensive pets really, as some of the items you need to care for them cost you a fair bit. Some other things worth getting are a thermometer ,as tortoises should not get too hot or too cold, kinda tricky! Some small flat rocks for their habitat, I find slate ones you put in your garden good as you don’t want tortoise falling.Small plants which they can eat are good. These items make their home more interesting. They do have their own little personalities too. Tortoises should be bathed at least 3 times a week to allow them to drink.Bath them in water just up to the bottom of their beaks. So as you are finding out they need a fair bit of attention. Tortoises can not just be kept in a garden, so many dangers to this, not to mention health issues. With proper care and attention tortoises are fun to keep. Before getting one check out the tortoise trust on-line , lots of handy tips and help. Better to fully research any type of pet before getting them, so you don’t find them hard work and regret it.

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