Choosing tortoise species, etc

counting

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Hello!

I'm considering getting a tortoise. Not in the near future/ immediately. I've enough pets and I have three little boys as well (3.5, 22m, 2m). But I'm thinking that a tortoise may be a good "family pet". Long lived, can live solitary happily-no pairs or groups, does not require as much hands on "play" or affection for a busy young family, has vegetarian and primarily veg varieties ( we are vegetarian) and seems overall like a neat, interesting, fairly peaceful, long lived animal. Not to mention there's just that some thing that draws me in. We love visiting the one who lives at our local museum.

I know I said no time soon, but I love doing research and learning everything I can about something before taking it on. So it may be strange for some, but researching for a year or three before making the jump is in my nature!

Due to climate we would have a smaller variety as it would be primarily indoors in a tortoise table (large and custom).

I'm thinking Russian is a good choice for a beginner and where I've been leaning. I also like the look of them and they seem adaptable to a well thought out primarily indoor life. I've never kept reptiles before but I'm keen to learn.

So I'd appreciate thoughts on:
-A good species choice for my situation and why
-How much to save up to afford the correct equipment and set up, one that will hopefully last from hatchling to adult. I do think want tI have to upgrade and buy everything again
-Any other thoughts
-feel free to share pictures of your tort tables and tortoises!

Thank you in advance!

Ps. I have been creeping your forum for weeks looking at the pictures and reading threads before finally deciding to join! Gorgeous torts! Lovely knowledgeable people!
 

Yvonne G

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You're right to be thinking about the supplies' costs as well as the cost of the tortoise. Most times, the tortoise is the cheapest cost (not always).

But, just because a Russian tortoise is small, that doesn't mean you can keep him in a small container. Russian tortoises are programmed to wander great distances searching for food. So even though food is now provided in a nice clump in his enclosure, he still wants to wander and roam. In face a lot of wandering and walking aids in digestion.

Russian tortoises hibernate, so you really only need to be thinking about a spring/summer/autumn habitat for your tortoise. Do you have any warm weather at all? Reason I ask is because I believe tortoises are wild animals as opposed to domestic animals, and as such, they really need to be outside.
 

wellington

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Hello and Welcome. I totally agree and second everything Yvonne said, specially the outdoors part. All torts should get outdoor living when it's warm enough. Although Russians do hibernate, they don't have too. Mine doesn't, but does slow down a lot in the winter even though he is housed in a warm tort shed. For an indoor encloser an adult Russian needs a minimum of a 4x8 foot enclosure. Larger is always better. The lights and heat sources and substrate would be the same for a hatchling into adult. The water dish should be smaller for a hatchling and then replaced with a larger one as he out grows it. Same with hides.
 

counting

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Thank you for the responses

Yes we have a warm/hot summer. I plan on having an outdoor space for daily roaming and burrowing in warmer weather but indoors for night, etc. No permanent 24/7 enclosure outdoors. I plan on an enclosure of ~25-30+ square feet indoors, with a deep burrowing section. Larger if possible but I've got plenty of time to research, design and decide. I really don't want a very large tortoise and when asking about breed suggestions I didn't want someone reccomending something very large, and that can't be kept well inside.

Re. Hibernating- I was under the impression that hibernating species don't require a hibernation period. Of course I have a lot more time to research but currently the idea of arranging a fridge hibernation makes me uncomfortable! Please share!

If I have primarily only a large indoor enclosure for a tortoise, is that going to ultimately mean an unsuitable home if there is no option for a permanent, 24/7 outdoor enclosure for much of the year?(things may change but currently we rent with a smallish yard) Obviously I don't want to get an animal I'm not going to be able to provide a good life for.

Is there a better species you might reccomend or is my tortoise dream not attainable under the circumstances?
 
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counting

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Also, I did not ask in my first post, but I should have!
Enrichment- what are some options? I was thinking in lieu of a food dish, placing the food either hidden about in various spots, inside a toy that they must be pulled out of, etc might help a bit more to mimic the need for a wild animal to search out food and provide more exercise, etc.

Is this something anyone does? Is it a good idea, why or why not?
 

Tidgy's Dad

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Hello, and a very warm welcome to Tortoise Forum. :)
I'm posting these threads in case you've missed them.
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
and http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
Although outdoors is best, many keepers have apartments or unsuitable weather, or chemicals in the garden etc. and so they keep their tortoises largely or entirely indoors quite successfully. It is possible if you have the room and get the set up right.
Some people hibernate their Russians, some don't, people advocate one or the other option, but the jury is out on this, i don't hibernate my Greek, and have little problem with it thus far.
You can try to put the food dish, slate or tile in different places, but Russian's are keen on digging, climbing and exploring anyway, so it shouldn't be a problem, a few spider plants, a couple of hides, a cuttlefish bone and the food should be enough!
Greeks and Hermanns are also a good choice, in my opinion, they get a bit bigger but need about the same amount of space as a minimum.
 

wellington

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I don't hibernate my Russian. You don't have to hibernate. Putting food in different places of the enclosure is fine. I wouldn't use toys to hide it in though, potential for getting hurt if it's eaten. Hermanns and Greeks as mentioned are also a size of what your looking for. Many of us have to house our torts inside during winter. I have four leopards, three adults and a yearling, besides the Russian. All housed inside during winter. With proper space, light and heat, they do just fine. Diet is the hardest part during winter. That's where many of us have to rely on grocery store greens. Also one of the reasons a wide variety of food items is important.
 

counting

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Thanks so much! I'll look into Greeks and Hermanns as well. I have heard Greeks are more shy, but I'm not sure if that's accurate. I'm glad that tortoises can be kept well mostly indoors!

About start up equipment and costs, in order to have a good set up ( and I have available the facilities and help to build the physical table but obviously still would need to pay supplies), what am I looking at. I'd like to know approximately how much to save.

I'm also need to do a lot more research on lighting set ups. I know no coil lights and i need heat for basking area, and a light with UVB but I am a newbie for all things reptile related.
 

counting

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So when I eventually do get a tortoise I have found a breeder who does both hermanns and Greeks. Within a 4 hr drive of my home. So I think that is shifting point in terms of species choice, if they are one fully still breeding when the time is right. Now I think i'm leaning Greek, just gathering all the research I can.
Out of curiosity I looked up prices for tortoises around here and they are so much more expensive than in three states.looking in the 4-600 range for a hatchling. Not that it factors into my decision process. Not that muxh really fpr a pet tjat ahpuld last a lifetime.but it's good to know what I'm looking at. Now to price the set up!
 

Tom

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You are off to a great start.

I think either a greek, hermanni or russian would suit your situation well. My preferred keeping style for smaller species is to have an indoor enclosure that is set up to meet all of their needs and a large outdoor to use as much as possible during fair weather.

There are generalities about tortoise personalities, but exceptions abound. You will see very outgoing greeks from time to time and very shy russians, while generally those roles are reversed. Personality is an individual thing and its a bit of a gamble. Greek would be my third choice amongst the ones you are considering, but that is just personal preference. Many people prefer greeks to all the others.

Here in the US, $400-$500 should cover the cost of the enclosure, substrate, bowls, lighting and heating. I'm sure it could be done for half of that if compromises are made and bargains are searched out.
 

counting

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What are the hermanns typically like in terms of personality?
R00-500 is actually less then I'd imagined. We have very crafty people in my.family, including my dad who builds furniture so I'm thinking he and my husband could give me a family discount and build a custom enclosure which should save some money and likely be super cute.
I'm still researching a lot about lighting. There's actually a lot to learn and know!
 

Tidgy's Dad

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I'm one of those who loves Greeks.
But i am 100% biased coming from a country where they're the native species and I have very little personal experience with any other species.
However, i can say that the Greeks here, at least, seem to be outgoing, confident and generally comfortable around people. But there are a few shy ones.
 

Tom

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What are the hermanns typically like in terms of personality?
R00-500 is actually less then I'd imagined. We have very crafty people in my.family, including my dad who builds furniture so I'm thinking he and my husband could give me a family discount and build a custom enclosure which should save some money and likely be super cute.
I'm still researching a lot about lighting. There's actually a lot to learn and know!

My prices were based on a plywood tortoise table with plain old 2x4 framing. If you've got furniture making craftsmen in the family, well the sky is the limit!

I recommend 4 x 8' as a minimum for any adult Testudo species. And because you will need several inches of substrate, the walls will need to be 16-18" tall.
 

Tom

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What are the hermanns typically like in terms of personality?

In general, I find the hermanni to be the most outgoing and "personable" of the three. Russians tend to be bold and fearless. Greeks, in my experience, tend to be the most shy and reserved, but I've seen many exceptions to all of the above.
 
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