Hoping to add a tortoise to our family

jennhas3boys

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Hello! I am strongly considering adding a tortoise to our family. We currently have 2 dogs and a PacMan frog, but previously had bearded dragons and an Eastern Box Turtle that lived in our yard until we moved. I love Sulcatta's but I would be very concerned about giving them a good outdoor home, I would worry about them escaping when they are too big to really live inside. We do have a winter here, so then there is also the brumating issue. I started looking at Hermann's as they are smaller and could indeed be an "indoor" tortoise. I am finding mixed information on diet, I'm accustomed to the frog or lizards that required live feeders, and I know Hermann's eat green broadleaf plants but do they really not eat any sort of protein source ie worms or cricket? Even when they are small? Also, with our bearded dragons, we used to take them outside on a leash and I was always careful not to let them eat anything outside for fear they could pick up a parasite, yet clearly, tortoises, especially larger ones, live outside. Are they just more resistant to parasites? And lastly, we keep our PacMan in a bioactive tank, but I am not seeing a huge amount of information on keeping a tortoise in a bioactive enclosure. Is this a bad idea?
 

wellington

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Tortoises do make great additions but they are not a pet that wants to interact with you. They need to be protected always from dogs.
They should have an indoor and outdoor space.
As for Hermanns, no they do not eat bugs. In the wild as they are grazing they might accidently eat a bug but you should not purposely feed them bugs.
Box turtles and Redfoot tortoises can eat bugs/protein.
Reptiles are outdoor dwellers. Your dogs are more prone to pick up a parasite from being outside then a reptile.
 

Krista S

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Hello! I am strongly considering adding a tortoise to our family. We currently have 2 dogs and a PacMan frog, but previously had bearded dragons and an Eastern Box Turtle that lived in our yard until we moved. I love Sulcatta's but I would be very concerned about giving them a good outdoor home, I would worry about them escaping when they are too big to really live inside. We do have a winter here, so then there is also the brumating issue. I started looking at Hermann's as they are smaller and could indeed be an "indoor" tortoise. I am finding mixed information on diet, I'm accustomed to the frog or lizards that required live feeders, and I know Hermann's eat green broadleaf plants but do they really not eat any sort of protein source ie worms or cricket? Even when they are small? Also, with our bearded dragons, we used to take them outside on a leash and I was always careful not to let them eat anything outside for fear they could pick up a parasite, yet clearly, tortoises, especially larger ones, live outside. Are they just more resistant to parasites? And lastly, we keep our PacMan in a bioactive tank, but I am not seeing a huge amount of information on keeping a tortoise in a bioactive enclosure. Is this a bad idea?
Welcome to the forum! Hermann’s are a great choice for a tortoise you want to primarily house indoors. I’m in Canada, in pretty cold climate for way too much of the year, but I’ve managed to keep my Hermann’s happy and healthy. Some main pointers to know is that even though they’re a smaller species, they require a lot of room. My 2 year old is in an enclosure that is about 4ft x 7ft and I’m already thinking ahead to how I can give him more space in another year or two. The minimum size enclosure for a full grown is 4ft x 8ft. About the protein, you definitely want to avoid feeding it to a Hermann’s tortoise. They just aren’t built to process high amount of protein. you want a high fibre and low protein diet.

Below is a link to some excellent care information for Hermann’s as well as Russians and other small species you may be considering. Please take a read and ask as many questions as you like. The care information and required setup can be overwhelming, but there’s lots of good people on the forum to help walk you through the process. The main thing is to keep you search for knowledge to this tortoise forum. There’s so much wrong information on the internet and it can get really confusing knowing what’s right.

 

Jannra

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Hello! I am strongly considering adding a tortoise to our family. We currently have 2 dogs and a PacMan frog, but previously had bearded dragons and an Eastern Box Turtle that lived in our yard until we moved. I love Sulcatta's but I would be very concerned about giving them a good outdoor home, I would worry about them escaping when they are too big to really live inside. We do have a winter here, so then there is also the brumating issue. I started looking at Hermann's as they are smaller and could indeed be an "indoor" tortoise. I am finding mixed information on diet, I'm accustomed to the frog or lizards that required live feeders, and I know Hermann's eat green broadleaf plants but do they really not eat any sort of protein source ie worms or cricket? Even when they are small? Also, with our bearded dragons, we used to take them outside on a leash and I was always careful not to let them eat anything outside for fear they could pick up a parasite, yet clearly, tortoises, especially larger ones, live outside. Are they just more resistant to parasites? And lastly, we keep our PacMan in a bioactive tank, but I am not seeing a huge amount of information on keeping a tortoise in a bioactive enclosure. Is this a bad idea?
An example of a protein source for Hermanns would be be alfalfa. And that is pretty high in protein for them and should be rarely if ever fed to them cause it is just too high a protein source and could easily lead to them getting too much protein. What they mostly need is fiber
 

Yvonne G

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Welcome to the Forum, Jenn!
 

Tom

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Hello! I am strongly considering adding a tortoise to our family. We currently have 2 dogs and a PacMan frog, but previously had bearded dragons and an Eastern Box Turtle that lived in our yard until we moved. I love Sulcatta's but I would be very concerned about giving them a good outdoor home, I would worry about them escaping when they are too big to really live inside. We do have a winter here, so then there is also the brumating issue. I started looking at Hermann's as they are smaller and could indeed be an "indoor" tortoise. I am finding mixed information on diet, I'm accustomed to the frog or lizards that required live feeders, and I know Hermann's eat green broadleaf plants but do they really not eat any sort of protein source ie worms or cricket? Even when they are small? Also, with our bearded dragons, we used to take them outside on a leash and I was always careful not to let them eat anything outside for fear they could pick up a parasite, yet clearly, tortoises, especially larger ones, live outside. Are they just more resistant to parasites? And lastly, we keep our PacMan in a bioactive tank, but I am not seeing a huge amount of information on keeping a tortoise in a bioactive enclosure. Is this a bad idea?
Hello and welcome.

You are right to be leery of the sulcata. It would be exceedingly difficult to house one in your climate in winter.

Any enclosure for any animal need to be escape proofed. This is not too difficult for tortoises.

You can hibernate a hermanni if you want to, but you don't have to. With a suitable large indoor enclosure you can try to keep them up all winter if you want to.

DIet for hermanni is pretty simple. Broad leaf weeds, leaves, flowers, and some Mazuri or ZooMed mixed in occasionally. They get their protein from plant sources like clover, alfalfa and some of the other weeds. The linked care sheet will explain more.

The risk of getting parasites outside is minimal for tortoises or bearded dragons too. The benefits outweigh the risks. Your dogs are much more of a threat to a tortoise. Be sure to always keep them apart. The dogs should not be able to access the tortoise.

Not many people do the bio-active thing for tortoises. It can be done, but most of us don't pursue that.

You'll find most of what you need in the care sheet, and questions are welcome! :)
 

Lyn W

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Hi and welcome,
You are wise to research first , there is more to tortoise keeping than you think, but this forum has all the up to date information you need and some very experienced keepers who are always happy to help.
 

Armadillogroomer

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And lastly, we keep our PacMan in a bioactive tank, but I am not seeing a huge amount of information on keeping a tortoise in a bioactive enclosure. Is this a bad idea?
Welcome! Sorry I'm late to the party, but I have an answer to this question.

I raised a red foot for about 8 months in a tropical bioactive enclosure. He turned out really healthy, but that can be achieved through a normal setup as long as you provide proper temp/humidity/UV. After I moved him to a larger non-bioactive enclosure, he really didn't seem to notice the difference.

My verdict is that bioactive is better for animals that don't need to be handled (like frogs). Every time you soak or weigh your pet, dirt and springtails everywhere!

With tortoises, bioactive is just a bunch of extra steps that makes your enclosure look cool.
 

autumn_0201

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Hello! I am strongly considering adding a tortoise to our family. We currently have 2 dogs and a PacMan frog, but previously had bearded dragons and an Eastern Box Turtle that lived in our yard until we moved. I love Sulcatta's but I would be very concerned about giving them a good outdoor home, I would worry about them escaping when they are too big to really live inside. We do have a winter here, so then there is also the brumating issue. I started looking at Hermann's as they are smaller and could indeed be an "indoor" tortoise. I am finding mixed information on diet, I'm accustomed to the frog or lizards that required live feeders, and I know Hermann's eat green broadleaf plants but do they really not eat any sort of protein source ie worms or cricket? Even when they are small? Also, with our bearded dragons, we used to take them outside on a leash and I was always careful not to let them eat anything outside for fear they could pick up a parasite, yet clearly, tortoises, especially larger ones, live outside. Are they just more resistant to parasites? And lastly, we keep our PacMan in a bioactive tank, but I am not seeing a huge amount of information on keeping a tortoise in a bioactive enclosure. Is this a bad idea?

For species, I would recommend the Testudo tortoises (Greek, Marginated, Hermann's, Egyptian) This is because they're mostly smaller than the other species or tortoise. These species hibernate too (except Egyptian) but u can choose not to let them. And yes, you can have a bioactive enclosure for ur tort. Its just that we are too lazy to mantain it 😂 I think Hermann's do eat some meat, but if the tort doesn't want to eat it, you don't have to force it to as it is more of a herbivore than an omnivore. I don't think parasites are much of an issue to tortoises either. Just make sure they have a shady spot outside because they might die of overheating when being in the sun for too long.
 

maggie3fan

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Welcome! Sorry I'm late to the party, but I have an answer to this question.

I raised a red foot for about 8 months in a tropical bioactive enclosure. He turned out really healthy, but that can be achieved through a normal setup as long as you provide proper temp/humidity/UV. After I moved him to a larger non-bioactive enclosure, he really didn't seem to notice the difference.

My verdict is that bioactive is better for animals that don't need to be handled (like frogs). Every time you soak or weigh your pet, dirt and springtails everywhere!

With tortoises, bioactive is just a bunch of extra steps that makes your enclosure look cool.
OK...I'm just not very smart...bioactive? an enclosure that kinda keeps itself growing or living? My box turtles indoor enclosures are loaded with Springtails, so I'm thinking that's sort of a hint.
 

Armadillogroomer

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OK...I'm just not very smart...bioactive? an enclosure that kinda keeps itself growing or living? My box turtles indoor enclosures are loaded with Springtails, so I'm thinking that's sort of a hint.
Yes, it's a biodome. You still still have to remove old food, but the bugs take care of all of the little left behind bits and the poop. The bugs produce fertilizer for the plants, which help keep the humidity up.
 

ZenHerper

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Another lovely thing about springtails and isopods: their excretion is somewhat alkaline, so as coir decays and acidifies, a good population of terrestrial crustaceans compensates.
 
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