Newbie enclosure size questions

BriGuy31

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Hello, Thank you for having me on the forums. I am seeking research to get my 8 year old son his first tortoise. He already has a ball python for the past three years and does great with her. He seems to really like cherry head torts. My main concern to supplying to proper enclosure. I live in Michigan and plan on building a nice outdoor space for him/her. Obviously I need to plan an indoor living space for up to six months out of the year. I also have a 4 year old son that wants to be like his brother and get a tort. So a pair would be ideal but space might prevent this.

The available space in my son's room is somewhat limited. I figured I can build an area about 40x24". If we bought a baby, how long would this area be acceptable for? I could design a larger space in my basement eventually.

My main concern to providing a thriving environment for my possible new pet. Thank you for the help.
 

BriGuy31

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Is there a smaller tort that would do better within my climate and indoor size restrictions?
 

Yvonne G

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Hi, and welcome to the Forum!

That's roughly 2'x almost 4'. Sounds ok to start with.

Pairs might not be the best choice. Because tortoises are territorial, they chase other tortoises out of their territory. For some reason, all bets are off when you get more than two, but with two you'll have fighting or mental stress.

Here's a good example of an indoor redfooted tortoise habitat, and it looks to be about 2'x4' or so:

http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/heres-dales-new-enclosure-picture-heavy.11023/

With tortoises, smaller species doesn't necessarily mean you get by with a smaller habitat. For example, the small Russian tortoise wanders great distances in search of food. This is hard-wired into them. When kept in a small enclosure the continually try to climb the walls or dig in the corners.
 

BriGuy31

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After talking with my wife, I could build something 2x4 and place it by my couch on the floor. Or even a longer sofa table that would be 20" by as long as eight feet.

Would a male/female pair still be out of the question with these sizes?
 

Yvonne G

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Definitely! Male tortoises are breeding machines. The male would pester the female until she stays hidden all the time and stops eating. (no matter what size they live in)
 

dmmj

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pairs are bad idea of either gender or mixed you have constant fighting or constant mating sometimes both. go ahead and get 2 if you want just please keep them separate
 

BriGuy31

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How do you feel about a 8 foot long table with a divided center? That way they might be able to share basking heat/light. Then when of age, the diver could be removed for breeding and replaced when they have had enough time together. In all honesty, I would be their main care taker. The eventual breeding aspect is what keeps my interest. I have bred saltwater clownfish and ball pythons.

Thank you very much for your time!
 

dmmj

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don't say you may be the main caretaker you may never know. I got my first tortoise and turtle at eight years of age and it was my responsibility 100% it lives for over 29 years so you never know what may happen. that sounds like a good plan right now.
 

dmmj

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if you get hatchlings though you won't know the gender for at least four years maybe longer no matter what the breeder says.
 

SarahChelonoidis

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How do you feel about a 8 foot long table with a divided center?

8 foot by what? Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but if it's only 2' wide, you'd be picturing keeping adult redfoots in a 4x2' enclosures? That's fine for hatchlings, but not for breeding size tortoises.
 

BriGuy31

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Yes, that was my concern ( keeping an adult in a 2x4 enclosure) during winter that might be 5-6 months. A larger outdoor pen would not be an issue. Would a single adult be happy in a 8x2 enclosure during the cold winter months?
 

Tom

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I just wanted to say hello and welcome. All the advice above is spot on, just to add one more voice to answer your questions.
 

SarahChelonoidis

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8x4 is usually the minimum recommended size for an adult redfoot. Your winters are long like mine. If you haven't seen an adult redfoot or similarly sized tortoise in person, go to a zoo or somewhere else that has actual adults and just spend some time thinking about how you'd house an animal that size. They look much larger than I think a lot of people expect (especially if they've only seen subadults). Keeping a 12-16" animal in a space only 24" wide is certainly not ideal. When you need indoor enclosures for half the year, you should be thinking in terms of room size (spare bedroom, basement) for housing an adult.
 

Gillian M

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A very warm welcome to the forum!

Please read the "Enclosures" Forum, which I'm sure will help you, and good luck.
 

BriGuy31

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Well rest assured that I will not attempt to keep an animal is a sub ideal encloser. Is there any smaller species that I should be considering. My limited (several weeks) has shown that red foods are amoung the smallest and easiest to keep. A spare bedroom or half my basement is simply not an option.
 

SarahChelonoidis

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Russians and Hermann's are quite a bit smaller and they hibernate so indoor enclosures may not even be required, depending on your climate.

Pancake tortoises are another very interesting option - they're small as tortoises go and can be kept communally with more success than most (males still fight, but they're one of only a few species that actually live in colonies in the wild).
 

Yvonne G

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I just mentioned this someplace this a.m., but I'll say it again - a smaller species of tortoise doesn't mean it can live in a smaller habitat. For example, Russians are a small species, however, they are hard-wired to travel great distances searching for food. If you try to keep a small russian tortoise in a too-small habitat, he will spend all his time climbing the walls and digging in the corners.
 

dmmj

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it is a often misunderstood concept but small tortoises need large spaces.
 

BriGuy31

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Thank you for helping my realize this. I truly appreciate all the friendly advice.
 

Yvonne G

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We're just glad you're so open to listening to us. So many new people ask a question, then say, "Yeah, but..." and proceed to tell us how they're going to do it. We don't have any ulterior motive except for the health and well-being of your tortoise.
 
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