Marginated tortoise size


New Member
Jun 17, 2014
Location (City and/or State)
Hello! I am planning on getting a marginated tortoise.
I have a couple of questions and it would be a great help if you could answer these for me :)


When a person says their tortoise is
a hatchling
a juvenile
a subadult
an adult
a breeding-sized tortoise

how big is it? (or more likely, how big should it be? how big would you expect it to be?)


I have never had a tortoise before, and I heard some people recommend a a bigger sized tortoise for beginners, because young tortoises are harder to take care of.
But I am living in Korea and from a lot of tortoise research in Korean websites, it looks like many people are keeping them in poor conditions(like small glass vivariums, coil lamps, newspaper substrate and other things) and doesn't even know the problem. Even the most experienced keepers are doing those (I guess tortoise study doesn't have a long history here compared to some other parts in the world).
So I am a little bit worried about getting a big tortoise. I could take it to a vet, but I wouldn't know so much about stress-related health issues that might come up.
Considering all of the above, what size would you recommend? (preferably in cm)

I am not a native English speaker and I have almost no knowledge of pet-related vocabulary. If any word I used is inappropriate, I am very sorry. Please be generous when correcting me :'(

Thank you for reading. lots of love :<3:


Well-Known Member
May 4, 2014
Well first of all. Marginateds are the right choice for a beginner. They are simple to look after but loving and friendly. Don't get a really young one. Get maybe a 3 year old. They are old enough to not keep flipping themselves over but they are still young and small. 3 year olds should be around 200g. Marginated do grow quite large.I am not an expert on adult marginated as I only have young but if you have any other questions feel free to ask them. :);)


Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Nov 3, 2012
Location (City and/or State)
I am so happy to hear that you are doing your research first. As far as size, I can tell you how big my tortoises are, just to give you a baseline. I've raised mine hot/humid, so they may be a bit bigger than their peers that were kept on a limited diet and cooler, dryer conditions.

Buttercup is 19 months old and weighs 302g. She is just over 4" long.
Bubbles is 9 months old, is 3.5" long and weighs 195g. Her mother was very large, and she was a huge hatchling. She is very smooth.
Blossom is 10 months old, is 3" long, and weighs 118g. She was a petite hatchling, but has shown steady, smooth growth.

I took in a little lumpy baby that had been kept very dry and was chewed by a dog. He is about 10 months old, is 2.5" long and weighs 72g. He will hopefully catch up later.

Raising a baby tortoise isn't really that different from raising an adult, except for a baby's need for more humidity and warmth. I provide a hot humid hide that stays 80 degrees F (thermostat) day and night. The rest of the enclosure has the usual temp gradient (95 degree basking, 75 degrees cool side etc). Babies also are more prone to becoming dehydrated, so I soak them daily, and I mist them several times per day. This treatment has resulted in wonderfully smooth shells. I imitated the care sheet that Tom wrote for baby RTs (check it out in the Russian tortoise section). They also need more calcium, and Marginateds are good at helping themselves to calcium from a cuttlefish bone.

Since it sounds like tortoise husbandry isn't the greatest in Korea, getting a baby might be a good option to ensure that your baby grows up healthily. Care is very similar to Russian tortoises, except that Margies end up getting bigger. Margies are also more prone to pyramiding. I have both RTs and Margies, and love both species. Both are a good 'beginner' tortoise as long as proper care is provided - RTs are a little more forgiving. It boils down to availability and preference in the end. RTs lay fewer eggs at a time, so may be harder to come by. Margies look fancier as babies, but end up being almost uniformly black as adults. :)

New Posts