"best" first tortoise?

MNGuy

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There’s nothing wrong with getting pet for a child when there’s a responsible adult who has accepted their role as the main caretaker, as should be the case with all pets for kids, and who is doing their research, as is the case in this situation.

Good luck.
 

Quixx66

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They eat live critters...





They're cool! And very like reptiles...without the taking up lots of space and moving around.

Bit early in the U.S. season (like reptiles), but some growers have them available (bit higher shipping $ with heat packs).
Thanks! I’ll just keep an eye out!
 
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Those are great. They’ll only require about a 55 gallon aquarium (minimum when fully filled, preferably a 60+ gallon) with an enclosed basking spot placed on top. They’re like tortoises, but move faster and stay smaller. They have a ton of personality and come in a tiny package. One of the best options for a beginner turtle, and far easier than a tortoise.
Yea probably the only turtle I would recommend for a beginner
 
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They eat live critters...





They're cool! And very like reptiles...without the taking up lots of space and moving around.

Bit early in the U.S. season (like reptiles), but some growers have them available (bit higher shipping $ with heat packs).
Musk turtle do not eat critters and what the heck does that even mean
 
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Dad I want a pet.

Definitely the scariest words in the English language.

So my questions for the esteemed members of this forum:

What breed of small tortoise would make the best pet for a 9 y/o boy?

Considering both personality and ease of care is there any breed that would be a good choice? We live in New York City with cold winters so the tortoise would be living indoors.

As I expect I will be the primary care giver for the tortoise for the next two to three decades (at which point I hope to gift the tortoise to any future grandkids while chuckling evilly) I would also appreciate advice on the best enclosure and set up with a focus on simplicity and low maintenance.

So for all you experienced tortoise parents if you were starting from nothing how would start off?

What type of tortoise is diurnal, friendly (for a reptile) and hardy? ( I was attracted to the pancake tortoise but I admit to being a total noob. Extra credit if you can recommend a reputable breeder)

Once you have selected a type of tortoise how would you set up the habitat to make care simple?

I know caring caring for a tortoise takes a lot of time and money but I was looking for recommendations based on your experience on the best way to do it and I would willing be to invest money now to save time and effort later. Once again recommendations regarding brands and vendors is appreciated.

I do not expect everyone to agree but I do want to take advantage of the experience you have had caring for tortoises.

Thank You
I have a Russian and she's really good she's not shy, and will eat right out your hand also males only grow to about 6 inches max and are really cute 😁😁😁
 

Tortugadad

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Thanks I have heard good things about russian tortoises it is just the space requirements that have been an issue.
 
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Thanks I have heard good things about russian tortoises it is just the space requirements that have been an issue.
Yeah I can see that as a problem but if space is an issue honestly all tortoises need a lot of space so I think if you don't have the space then maybe a turtle is better for you?
Correct me if I'm wrong but I think Russians only need abt 6 by 2 feet I am getting a bigger one for mine just because I have the room but if it really is an issue maybe a turtle if the right one for you
 

Danimal

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If you don't mind a steeper price tag, the Indian Star tortoise is a small breed in the range you are discussing.

I'd add to the existing discussion that the size enclosures you are discussing are for adults. That is your endgame and it does come relative quickly but if you get a baby X tortoise (small breed) it will give you a couple of years to come up with a solution. I don't necessarily suggest that path because if it doesn't go right you'll be faced with some hard decisions. You can get creative and probably solve the indoor housing problem just be aware that without going custom the chances of finding a retail tortoise table are slim. If you can't build then maybe you have a friend that can?

If not, go to >Animal Plastics<
I've bought snake racks and cages from them.


Look at their terrestrial cages. You may find one you like, they have one that 72'L X 2'W X 2'D for $525, I think. It is 1/2" expanded PVC cut on a cnc machine and shipped flat. You could also just email them with what you are looking for, like a table. These small tortoises don't need much height, we're talking inches, they just need space to roam.

Unfortunately, once you start keeping the exotic type animals, you spend a lot of time DIY'ing and repurposing, just not enough commercially available offerings that fulfill the requirements.

Food shouldn't be a problem but beware, tortoises can be loud, they will roam their enclosure, banging the entire perimeter. Both of my Sulcatas and a female russian do it.
 

Impulse2

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My 5" female margie is very shy. :(
I wouldn't recommend any hibernating species.
 
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jsheffield

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Dad I want a pet.

Definitely the scariest words in the English language.

So my questions for the esteemed members of this forum:

What breed of small tortoise would make the best pet for a 9 y/o boy?

Considering both personality and ease of care is there any breed that would be a good choice? We live in New York City with cold winters so the tortoise would be living indoors.

As I expect I will be the primary care giver for the tortoise for the next two to three decades (at which point I hope to gift the tortoise to any future grandkids while chuckling evilly) I would also appreciate advice on the best enclosure and set up with a focus on simplicity and low maintenance.

So for all you experienced tortoise parents if you were starting from nothing how would start off?

What type of tortoise is diurnal, friendly (for a reptile) and hardy? ( I was attracted to the pancake tortoise but I admit to being a total noob. Extra credit if you can recommend a reputable breeder)

Once you have selected a type of tortoise how would you set up the habitat to make care simple?

I know caring caring for a tortoise takes a lot of time and money but I was looking for recommendations based on your experience on the best way to do it and I would willing be to invest money now to save time and effort later. Once again recommendations regarding brands and vendors is appreciated.

I do not expect everyone to agree but I do want to take advantage of the experience you have had caring for tortoises.

Thank You
My vote would be for an adult Russian Tortoise.

  • small
  • hardy
  • can live in a table enclosure
  • herbivorous
  • readily available/affordable
Jamie
 

maggie3fan

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Yeah I can see that as a problem but if space is an issue honestly all tortoises need a lot of space so I think if you don't have the space then maybe a turtle is better for you?
Correct me if I'm wrong but I think Russians only need abt 6 by 2 feet I am getting a bigger one for mine just because I have the room but if it really is an issue maybe a turtle if the right one for you
Russians require an about 8'x4' as a minimum enclosure
 

Ink

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I love my Western Hermanns, and I also have an Eastern Hermanns. Neither hibernate or eat live critters.
 

nootnootbu

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They eat live critters...
Virtually all species of aquatic turtle CAN eat live critters, but absolutely do not NEED to eat live critters. They can all be fed turtle pellets and also dried bugs, dried fish, and dried shrimp, as well as other things. You're also supposed to keep a green floating for most species. The pellets will make up the bulk of their diet, they are very convenient and affordable.
 

nootnootbu

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With your space constraints, I would recommend an aquatic turtle as you can maximize their space by filling their tank nearly full of water for swimming room and using a turtle topper or home made basking basket for their basking space. You could also get more creative later and build them a little land platform outside the top of their tank.

Another option is to get a small tortoise species and do the two level enclosure, I think a great idea for this is to do the bottom level with the second level as the 'roof' for it, and make the bottom level heated and enclosed with a thermostat to regulate temp, while doing the top level as an open air tortoise table, with a basking spot with both heat and UV. With something like a Russian, this would give it a pretty ideal climate of having an above ground area and then an underground burrow area that you could keep at a good controlled heat/humidity :)

You could do this by building it with wood, making essentially a large 'box' with one side open, which you could put a clear PVC viewing side and door on, for easy access and cleaning. Then put your 'rails' on the top, and figure out a good spot to put a ramp that leads from the top floor to the bottom one. Just make sure the ramp isn't too steep or slick, and that it's got rails too so the tort cannot fall off of it.

Also make sure to leave room for substrate in your construction!
 
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nootnootbu

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I would also like to stress that in the case of all tortoises and turtles, feeding live critters is a choice, not a necessity. Red Foots will eat bugs, and even mice, if you're the kind of person who likes that sort of thing, but they do absolutely fine with other protein sources for their (TINY) amount of needed protein, and they are mostly vegetarians. They do not need to hunt to eat.

Turtles are the same, they grow up eating the floaty things you feed them, they do not need to hunt to be happy or healthy, they no more need to eat live animals than a dog does. They are not like a snake, and do not require motion from their 'prey' to be stimulated to eat it. They are largely scavengers and will happily eat a dead fish they find floating about just as easily as a live one, even in the wild.
 
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