Best tortoise for a Beginner??

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Austin

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I did search first, and found some info. But for my sake, Ill ask again.. What is the best tortoise species for a beginner in my situation?

I live in California, in an apartment. Good amount of room, indoor and out, never really rains here, or too cold. Apartment mainly sits at 75 degrees but ill buy a nice big tank with heating pad and heating lamp for him. I take great care and focus with animals.

I do want a smaller tortoise that will not grow big.. Looking for the one who will grow to be the smallest adult (on average of course) would be preferred. 12' or smaller as an adult would be ideal.

I have heard about a bunch like Greek, Russian, but mostly i like the look of Red-Footed tortoises. I hear/read they dont grow too big and are nice to have.

Any suggestions, info, tips, advice etc.. much appreciated!

Also, how long does it usually take for the size increases? ( i know its gradual) ..But my friend has a greek tortoise and its 6 months old and still the size of a plum. 3-4 inches..

Thanks!

-Austin
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Austin: In MY OPINION, tortoises belong outside. Having said that, I realize there are times when we have to keep them inside, but long term, if you can't arrange to have a habitat outside for a tortoise, I don't believe you should get one. Of all the tortoises mentioned, in my opinion, the one best kept indoors would be a red foot. Reason I say that is because they can get their Vit. d from their food, while a grassland tortoise can't. The redfoot also doesn't require all the lights that you need to keep a grassland tortoise healthy. I'll defer to someone more knowledgeable about redfoots to give you more info. Just my opinion.

Yvonne
 

Austin

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Thank you Yvonne! i will take him out with me to fields.. and play with him, i love going outdoors, but for living quarters, it will be inside. But yes, he will get lots of sidewalk/grassy hill action on a DAILY basis.

Red footed is the one i WANT.

so i hope it will be the best choice for a mainly indoors living but outdoors playing tortoise and yes ill take great care in supervision of him.
 

Laura

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Hi,, Torts dont really 'play' well. and they tend to disappear when taken out for 'walks'. you have to be VERY carefull of predators outside, this includes, cats, dogs, and crows, and if you let him walk on grass in a park or your complex they very often use chemicals and fertilizers that can harm or even kill a young tortoise.
Also instead of getting a hatchling which can be very sensitive.. consider looking for a rescue. An older animal that needs a home. These cretures have a long lifespan.. so getting a 10 year old is no big deal! you will have it for YEARS!
 

carrilac

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I was just in your same situation trying to figure what would be the best type of tortoise for my family. We live in San Diego and while we do have a yard it's not very big. So we didn’t want something large like a sulcatta taking over. We finally decided on a redroot and are so happy about it! My little Sophie is a hatchling and just beautiful. I've had her for almost 2 weeks now and she is becoming more personable every day.
For me not keeping tortoises before, they remind me more of the koi fish I kept than any other type of animal I've had (I hope this is not an unfair analogy). I used to love watching my fish grow and at feeding time they would swim up to me and even hang out on side of the pond after they were fed. This is what I'm finding my tortoise is like. She doesn’t like to be pet or carried (maybe she will someday) and looks at me as a "food god" more than anything else.
I'm saying this because they aren’t like some of the cuddlier creatures I've known that would enjoy being carried to a field. However you mentioned that you have an outdoor area to your apt, and I think that this would be good for a redroot. Their diet is more made up of leaves, fruit and a little bit of protein (cat food) rather than grass so you wouldn’t need to have a grassy space like you need with other species.
 

Austin

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ok, im sorry if it sounds selfish but i want a cute hatchling. and i want to experience raising it from that baby stage. i do understand that they live long, but that's my preference..

thanks for the info guys.
please keep the type suggestions and advice coming.

-Austin
 

tortelini

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Hatchlings are cute.....it's hard to resist :) After years of having torts, I finally got my first hatchling just a few weeks ago. IMO however, a hatchling is not a "beginner" tortoise. Small mistakes can often have tragic results! I know that we probably won't talk you out of it though so, my advise is to research like crazy and think honestly about things like providing an outdoor enclosure, getting a good herp vet(I've been twice with mine already)......and be prepared, no tanks or heating pads please!
 

jtpaintball5

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Hey Austin (Thats my name too). I wanted to see if you'd looked into the Egyptian tortoises. I've been looking online for one myself, but I do know they're the second smallest tortoise in the world. They're awesome little guys. Check them out too!
 

Austin

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tortelini- no tanks or heating pads? meaning use what???

please, advise, thanks

Jt- Austin is a great name :)... Egyptian? hmm.. ill look into it.

and everyone- yes ive done alot of research, and i plan on doing more.. i will be careful.
 

KQ6AR

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Hi,
I'm in the SF bay area, with our weather I'd suggest any of the Mediterranean tortoises, or a desert tortoise.
I also hatch several hatchlings per year. They don't require any more care than the adults do. Same diet, same environment, same care.
 
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Maggie Cummings

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No tanks means that tortoises shouldn't be kept in aquariums. It's hard to keep a cool side and a hot side, and there's no air flow. No heat mats means that tortoises under 20 pounds shouldn't be kept on heat mats. Their heat should come from above like the sun.
My opinion on a tortoise for beginners is none. Hatchlings are very hard to keep. They die very easily, I recommend a new keeper get a yearling or older and get some experience at keeping chelonia, then get a hatchling. Tortoises are not like keeping dogs or cats. There is so much to learn and no room for error...you make a mistake and you end up with a dead baby, quickly.
But since I know you won't pay attention to that advice...think about getting a Russian, they stay small but have big personalities...and they're easy keepers
 

nrfitchett4

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I have to disagree. I think in this day and age of info, as long as you do the research first, even a hatchling is manageable. Some hatchlings just don't make it, even experienced keepers can lose some. Just make sure you have the habitat set up in advance and read, read, read all the info you can beforehand.
 

Yvonne G

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I have to respectfully disagree. Hatchlings are NOT for beginners. Yes, there are quite a few noobies who have successfully raised hatchlings, but as a general rule, hatchlings are very fragile. I used to adopt out the hatchling desert tortoises that I got in every fall. Along with the tortoise I gave out detailed care instructions and my phone number. Many of those hatchlings died. Then I started giving the hatchlings to my sister to head start. Now I adopt them out as yearlings, and they are much easier for people to care for and to keep alive.

Yvonne
 

tortoisenerd

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My opinion: I got a hatchling for my first tort and I wish I didn't. But, I had a hard time finding anything older than a hatchling that wasn't wild caught. Also, he was a little older at about 4 months when I got him than I've seen (some sell theirs at 3-4 weeks, unfortunately). Thankfully he's healthy and happy at about 6 months. Sure took a lot of work though!
 

Candy

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Austin, I'm also kind of still a newbie to torts, but I've learned quite a bit here on this site. I've read a few books on tortoises (lets face it there's really not that many out there) but I've got to tell you there's nothing like information from people first hand that have raised them and are rescuing them. There are more than a few people on this site that really do know their stuff about tortoises. I always find it helpful to look at their reputations first and whether or not I see a lot of the same answers from other tort owners. Anyway we own a Cherryhead named Dale that my son got for Christmas. He is about 6 inches and the place that we bought him from told us he was about 1 year old. I then took him to the vet and she told me he was about 6 years old and then I found this site. After posting pictures and his inch size I found out he's probably only about 3-4 years old. Cherryheads also need humidity so I have to spray his tank every day a couple of times and move the moss around when I do that so it doesn't just get wet. They're probably right about tanks because I have a 40 gallon tank and it's really not big enough for Dale and that's what Terry had told me after seeing it on one of my posts. The tank doesn't cool down like it's suppose to like they say (that might be because it is only 40 gallon though). I do know that Terryo has one, but hers is 75 gallon for her Cherryhead (Pio) a lot different amount of space then mine. Anyway I don't care really how old Dale is because he is so cute and I do feel that we rescued him and that he's much better off now that he's with us. I just wanted to put in my two cents because they have helped me so much here in getting to know how to take care of Dale and a lot of the people are just passionate about their torts so don't take their criticism personally they really only want the best for you and the tortoise. Anyway good luck. :) Candy I almost forgot after reading about the heating pad on another post I checked the one under Dales tank and it was too hot in one area so I unplugged it right away. I had heard were they could get too hot like that and that the tortoise could get burnt. I'm so glad that I read that just a few days ago. No more heating pad for Dale.
 

egyptiandan

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I'm going to be agreeing with Maggie and Yvonne on this. :D Tortoises aren't beginners animals and hatchlings even more so. I have been around to long and seen more people not do well with hatchlings, than do well with them. Even in this day in age it hasn't changed much in getting hatchlings to thrive with a first time owner.
You can search day and night on the net and you won't find much targeted at raising hatchling tortoises. Terry's website on Redfoots is one of the few. What you find is how to keep sub-adults or adults.
Like has been said a year old or older animal would be the best thing to start with as your first tortoise.
It will keep you in the hobby and give the tortoise you pick a great chance of living a very long life. :)

Danny
 

KQ6AR

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Not to change the subject. I've hatched out & sold over 100 russian hatchlings. I stay in touch with many of the people that have them, & as far as I know none have had problems.
My question is are some species of hatchlings more difficult that others?
I ask because I haven't had a problem, & have been raising Russians about 12 years.
 

egyptiandan

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There are definately more difficult hatchling to raise Dan, just like there are more difficult tortoises to keep.
I didn't say it was impossible for a new tortoise keeper to do well, but it is extremely difficult without help. There just aren't many breeders out there that have actually raised up hatchlings or be willing to keep up with the ones they sell. Most people end up buying animals from dealers or breeders that bought adults and have never raised any of their hatchlings, so don't really know how.
Than you can get the people who can't, won't or don't follow the advice of the breeder that has raised hatchlings, so you have that too.
Like yourself Dan, Terry, Carl May, Douglas Beard and myself we have all raise our or someone elses hatchlings to adulthood. I'm sure there are others out there, but not many.
So in the big picture, I would always try to recommend a first time tortoise keeper to get a CB animal that was a year old or older.

Danny
 

Crazy1

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I started this time with an adult pair. I had a unexpected hatchling outside and figured, No problem how hard could a hatchling be to raise they are just smaller than the parents. WRONG. There are so many things that can and unfortunately usually do go wrong. Broken hydrometers, thermometers, Too low humidity, too high temps, to low temps to high humidity, Soak too little, soak too much, do I use vitamins to soak them in, should I feed them vitamins or calcium and if so how often, how much and what type, I can't leave them outside unsupervised even in a large enclosure so now I have to have them inside at least at night. So now I have to set up a habitat, what substrate do I use? eco-Earth and play sand, Aspen, orchid bark, plain old dirt? Did I get all the spinach out of the spring mix, do I need to? Ah, Oh, yes its summer but now I have to spend time picking cleaning and cutting up greens from the garden and did I get the right amounts of the right greens. All this and so, so much more, for just one little hatchling.

For those of you debating on getting a tortoise I seriously advise against a hatchling. Get a little older a Year or more they are still small and have so much growing to do but are much more forgiving on the mistakes you are bound to make if you get a hatchling. Just my 2 Cents worth.
 
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