1. Welcome! Are you interested in tortoises? If so, we invite you to join our community! Our community is the #1 place for tortoise keepers to talk online. Once you join you'll be able to post messages, upload pictures of your tortoise and enclosure, and discuss any tortoise topic with other tortoise keepers. Get started today!

Leopard tortoise care advice

Discussion in 'Leopard tortoises' started by Mikeyshutters, Jul 24, 2019.

Help Support Tortoise Forums by donating:

  1. Mikeyshutters

    Mikeyshutters New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2019
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location (City and/or State):
    Lowell, ma
    Hello everyone! Im new to this forum and Im excited to be apart of a tort community I have added myself to some facebook tortoise groups but have found that they are not as “talkative” for advice so I seeked out an actual forum and found this!:)

    I am an avid reptile keeper and have a wide range of reptiles with all different cares and need from tropical to desert. I have always loved tortoises and Now Ive decided I am in a good place to own my vey own!:) I have fallen in love with the leopard tortoise from the shell to their size. I have done research on their care, but it seems websites and youtube have conflicting care advice like all other reptile care lol but it seems leopard tortoises care sheets are far and few. I decided to build the baby torts enclosure before I actually purchase one. I would love to hear all of your advice and input my main concern as all for my other animals is maintaining the right healthy humidity for them so I will list what I have so far ease feel free to give all of your input! Thank youuu


    I purchased a 3 1/2 ft by 9 inches in height baby pool for the enclosure. For substrate I learned that topsoil mixed with sand was best so I have that. I am starting to custom make the humid hide and plan to put moss inside to keep that humidity level up. I added variations of edible safe plants and other hiding spots. I made it look as close as the savanna in africa as much as possible (i like to give them as natural to their habits as possible) I added a terra-cotta flower plate to put the torts food on to help file down its mouth. Also I added a small water bowl that It can get in and out safely. I enjoyed building this particular enclosure but not Im at the final lap before my tortoise comes..the most conflicted info I have been getting is heat source and UVB all websites and facebook give different advice. So my real big question is, what basking bulb should I officially use? And UVB? Im familiar with all the brands and wattages but not honestly sure which one to go with. Please send all your advice as I want to give the new family member the very best! Also I will be building an outdoor enclosure when it gets bigger:) thank you in advance!
  2. SweetGreekTorts

    SweetGreekTorts Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2018
    Messages:
    813
    Likes Received:
    1,149
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location (City and/or State):
    Tucson, AZ
    (These ads do not appear for registered members.)
    Welcome to the Forum!

    Here is a great care sheet for the leopard tortoise that will help. There's a section on the lighting which you were asking about. Let us know if you have any additional questions, we're always happy to help!

    For the UVB, I personally raise Greek Tortoises, and I use the Arcadia T5 HO fluorescent UVB.

    https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.78361/
  3. Mikeyshutters

    Mikeyshutters New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2019
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location (City and/or State):
    Lowell, ma
    Aww thanks! I appreciate the quick response! Yeah I was looking at the arcadia! Is that series good for the leopard as well! And I do have a question on humidity..because care sheets ive read are always conflicting like for example; around 80% humidity in the humid hide and about over all 50% in the entire enclosure if my research is correct but also they cant be to wet or they can have respiratory issues if my tesearch is again correct lollll so my question is..what is considered too humid and wet for them? Like misting the substrate once a day? I love learning and finding out new and correct ways to take care of each of my reptiles but certain reptiles are harder to find true care sheets on so this is why I like to double ask and do further research i already like this forum!
  4. Grandpa Turtle 144

    Grandpa Turtle 144 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2013
    Messages:
    10,885
    Likes Received:
    8,198
    Trophy Points:
    113
    IMG_1900.jpg
    Your doing great . But first stop looking all over for your info. Just follow the info. We have here and you’ll do great . Now get rid of the sand it’s not good for any tort .
    And if you trust the info. We have here get your tort here all so .
  5. Mikeyshutters

    Mikeyshutters New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2019
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location (City and/or State):
    Lowell, ma
    Heyy thanks for the reply! This group is great with responses so the sand part a few places said to mix it in with the top soil..im used to not using sand at all because I know its a huge no no with other reptiles but I figured it would make sense to give the enclosure that dry savanna feel but I also was skeptic so thanks for that input and wow theres breeders on here? I am actually interested in going that route if you or any one you know on here that is reputable that would be awesome if you can send me in that direction
  6. wccmog10

    wccmog10 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2018
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    214
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location (City and/or State):
    Georgia
    There are several leopard tortoise breeders here on the forum. My biggest piece of advice is to follow the care sheet posted above. I used to raise my baby leopard the same type way you are describing (dry savanna type enclosure). This year I made a closed chamber and have been raising the babies with 80%+ humidity and temps from the low 80s to 100ish. I’ve been very pleased with the results. I recommend using the closed chamber (use the search function, there are several threads about building chambers and how to use them). So far in my limited experience, the babies seem to eat more, be more active, and grow faster. @Tom did experiments with closed chambers (using sulcatas if I remember correctly), I’ve heard him say growth as much as 3 times faster.

    I happen to be one of the forum members with breeding leopards, I have 3 baby leopards available at the moment, if you’re interested send me a PM.

    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/2019-hatch-leopard-tortoises.175284/

    Attached Files:

    samkerns1 likes this.
  7. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    45,322
    Likes Received:
    25,130
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Southern California
    Hello and welcome Mikey!

    Its fantastic that you are doing research, but like almost everyone else you've run into the same old wrong info that most people have been following since the 60s for this species. That old info was based on incorrect assumptions of how thy live in the wild and what they need in our captive enclosures. In most cases we have to tell people to go back and undo all the wrong stuff, but in your case, you found us early enough to prevent major catastrophe.

    No sand and no soil. Sand is an impaction risk and skin and eye irritant, just like with all your other reptile species. The problem with bought-in-a-bag soil is that it is made with people's composted yard waste. There is no way to know what its made of or if its safe. Is it untreated grass clippings? Or is it oleander and azalea clippings? I once got a bag of soil and some of the leaves weren't quite fully composted. I could clearly see jacaranda leaves. Jacaranda is toxic!

    Kiddie pools and other low sided open topped containers don't work for this species. You can't maintain the necessary heat and humidity, unless the entire room is kept warm and humid 24/7/365.

    Here is the info for heating and lighting:
    There are four elements to heating and lighting:
    1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt floods from the hardware store. I run them on a timer and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. You can mount a fixture on the ceiling, or hang a dome lamp from the ceiling. Go lower or higher wattage if this makes the enclosure too hot or not warm enough. Do not use "spot" bulbs, mercury vapor bulbs or halogen bulbs.
    2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species like sulcatas or leopards. I like this thermostat: https://www.lllreptile.com/products/13883-zilla-1000-watt-temperature-controller. Put the probe in the coolest corner away from all heating elements. You may need more than one heating element to spread the heat out for a given enclosure.
    3. Light. I use florescent tubes for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most tubes at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. I've been using LEDs lately and they are great, and run cooler than a florescent. This can be set on the same timer as the basking bulb.
    4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. It helps to have a UV meter to test and see what your bulb is actually putting out at your mounting height. Plexi-glass or screen tops will filter out some or all of the UV produced by your bulb.
    Here is the care info all in one place. Read these and you'll save yourself a LOT of heartache:
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-raise-a-healthy-sulcata-or-leopard-version-2-0.79895/
    Less grass for a regular leopard, but the list is good:
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/

    Finally the important topic of WHERE to get your tortoise. Yes there are lots of breeders here, but some of them still use old methods that don't work well. You want a baby that has been soaked daily, kept mostly inside in a warm humid closed chamber, and introduced to a wide variety of good foods from day one. Here is how it should be done: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/how-to-incubate-eggs-and-start-hatchlings.124266/

    Here is what happens when you buy from someone who doesn't soak enough, keeps them dry, keeps them outside all day, and feeds them mostly lettuce bought from a store: https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/hatchling-failure-syndrome.23493/

    I've personally seen the babies that @wccmog10 mentioned on a recent visit to his house and they are smooth, growing and thriving. If I wanted a regular leopard, I buy one of his. Will at @Kapidolo Farms also starts his babies exceptionally well, with @Yvonne G helping with the incubation and hatching, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy from them either. There are other breeders here on this forum that I wouldn't take a baby for free from.

    After you've had a chance to read all of this and take it all in, come back and ask all your questions. I don't expect you to just take my word for all of this when so many other sources are telling you differently. Give me the chance to explain why those sources are wrong and what I'm telling you is right. Your baby tortoise will thank you for it with good health and a long life.
  8. Mikeyshutters

    Mikeyshutters New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2019
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location (City and/or State):
    Lowell, ma
    Hey tom! Thanks for the reply! I have seen your threads and all the amazing info and advice and being on this forum under 24hrs has given so much insight! I absolutely fell in love with the leopard tortoise but as I read all the info from all the sources, my real concern is humidity. The humidity level is a real important aspect for a healthy leopard tortoise and im afraid the climate where I live would not be best suited for a leo even indoors. Im from Boston Massachusetts and we have “wicked” cold wintahs! (Some boston accent for you) so for a decent amount of months the leo would be housed indoors. I believe in my reptile knowledge and compassion for the proper care for animals and all their needs but Im also not too proud to admit when a animals care and needs are out of my realm. I would not want to take on a leo if I cant give it a proper care it needs and deserves. So my question is, do you think northern united state climate is suitable for african native tortoises? I trust your opinion. Im not a half *** reptile keeper, I would put in the work to take care of a leo but maybe for my first tortoise it wouldn’t be the best? And if so Im ok with that but I still love tortoises could you recommend a tortoise that is a better suited for novice tortoise enthusiasts..thank you for your time, and all your opinions and advice is welcome:)!
  9. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    45,322
    Likes Received:
    25,130
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Southern California
    You can keep any species anywhere in the world. Its a question of time, effort and money. Humidity is important for smaller growing leopards, but not necessary for older, mostly grown tortoises. Babies are easy to raise anywhere in any climate if you use a large closed chamber. Maintaining the correct temps and conditions inside a closed chamber is easy for anyone anywhere. When the tortoise outgrows the chamber, you can figure out how to house it over the long frozen winters, but humidity will be less important at that time. A large leopard tortoise will need a large indoor enclosure, and that will be your main challenge when its an adult. A smaller species would be easier to house over winter, and a species that hibernates would be really easy for you.

    Now I've got to go "pahhhk the cahhhhh"! :D
    vladimir likes this.
  10. Mikeyshutters

    Mikeyshutters New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2019
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location (City and/or State):
    Lowell, ma
    Thanks for the reply! This forum is truly great! So for a closed chamber what do you suggest? Is a 70gallon terrarium with a half close top and blocked the bottom so the tortoise cant see out into the open be suffice enough? Thanks for all the answers I just wanna be well prepared and this forum has helped me.
  11. Blackdog1714

    Blackdog1714 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2018
    Messages:
    557
    Likes Received:
    952
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location (City and/or State):
    Richmond, VA
    Limiting the line of sight helps settle down the roaming and climbing. That size is good but only for a short period of time due to growth I use a 69 Rubbermaid tub and figure I have 3-6 months max before I go bigger. But using the Inkbird IBS-TH1 it allows me to obsess over my temps and humidity numbers wirelessly on my phone. I live in VA and nightbox and greenhouse for winter are in the works!
    xMario likes this.
Similar Threads: Leopard tortoise
Forum Title Date
Leopard tortoises My baby Leopard Tortoise is very sick and I don't know what it is! Aug 13, 2019
Leopard tortoises Diet & Enclosure Questions for a Hatching Leopard Tortoise Aug 12, 2019
Leopard tortoises Baby Leopard Tortoise ill...need suggestions Jul 22, 2019
Leopard tortoises New leopard tortoise owner Jul 15, 2019
Leopard tortoises Best Place to buy a leopard tortoise hatchlings? Jul 8, 2019

Share This Page