Things you wish you knew before getting a tortoise

Golden Greek Tortoise 567

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Do you have a picture of it so I can see what you are talking about? Thanks so much for your help!
I haven’t been using one in the summer because my torts just get natural uvb in the sun. They have indoor and outdoor enclosures and just come in at night. I’ll try to explain it better. If you have a piece of plywood just put it so that it is in the middle of the enclosure, so that parts of the wood are hanging off the side. Then, hang and tie the fluorescent tube at the bottom of that piece, using the metal chains that the fixture comes with. Hope that helps.
 

moriah2971

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MS
I haven’t been using one in the summer because my torts just get natural uvb in the sun. They have indoor and outdoor enclosures and just come in at night. I’ll try to explain it better. If you have a piece of plywood just put it so that it is in the middle of the enclosure, so that parts of the wood are hanging off the side. Then, hang and tie the fluorescent tube at the bottom of that piece, using the metal chains that the fixture comes with. Hope that helps.
I see! That makes sense! Thank you tons!
 

Darwinsmom

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My biggest advice would be to make sure you get your tortoise from a trusted safe place. Preferably from a breeder or friend who knows a lot about proper care. I got my Russian tortoise from a pet store and they told me he was a female (he is definitely male) so we paid $30 extra for him and then we just found out he had parasites (I know for sure he didn’t get them from us because he had diarrhea when we brought him home) so now he’s on medication. Pet stores also don’t really have a lot of accurate information on how to care for them. A lot of what the pet store told me contradicted what I’ve learned from people on here and that my vet has confirmed.
Definitely do your research on where you get him/her from to make sure they were properly taken care of
 

moriah2971

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Too Late for that info unfortunately. The closets exotic pet store was 4 hours from us and we drove to get him the end of March. All the past info I searched and everything that 3 pet stores told me I needed, was wrong. Thank goodness I am finding out before it’s too late.

My biggest advice would be to make sure you get your tortoise from a trusted safe place. Preferably from a breeder or friend who knows a lot about proper care. I got my Russian tortoise from a pet store and they told me he was a female (he is definitely male) so we paid $30 extra for him and then we just found out he had parasites (I know for sure he didn’t get them from us because he had diarrhea when we brought him home) so now he’s on medication. Pet stores also don’t really have a lot of accurate information on how to care for them. A lot of what the pet store told me contradicted what I’ve learned from people on here and that my vet has confirmed.
Definitely do your research on where you get him/her from to make sure they were properly taken care of
 

moohooses

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Franklin, Wisconsin
  1. Closed chambers instead of open tops.
  2. Tortoises need huge amounts of room, much more than other types of reptiles or pets.
  3. No cfl UV bulbs.
  4. Pet stores usually sell unnecessary, sometimes detrimental and overpriced products and give terrible tortoise care advice. My apologies to the few exceptions, but you are a rare breed.
  5. No colored bulbs.
  6. No "spot" bulbs.
  7. Use a thermostat to control ambient temps.
  8. Avoid grocery store produce in favor of better items found for free.
  9. Using Mazuri as a supplemental food is good.
  10. Don't overdo the calcium supplementation.
  11. Too much time outside is bad for babies.
  12. The vast majority of tortoise species are NOT "desert" animals. They need water and at least moderate humidity. Especially as babies.
  13. Is will never be cheap or easy to house giant species in climates with freezing winter weather.
  14. Never mix species or allow them to have contact with each other, or each other's stuff, or each other's spaces.
  15. Tortoises should not be kept in pairs.
  16. Tortoises don't get lonely and other tortoises are not seen as "friends'.
  17. Tortoise do NOT get all their water from the food they eat. Babies of all species should be soaked daily.
  18. Letting tortoises roam free in the house or yard is a mistake. Eventually, it is likely to cause the tortoise's death or loss. It doesn't matter how close you intend to supervise. Use an enclosure.
  19. If the tap water is safe for you, its safe for your tortoise.
  20. Most breeders do not start babies correctly. When you find one that does, spread the word. Daily soaks, humid environment, mostly indoors, a WIDE variety of foods, etc... Don't support the ones who are doing it wrong.
  21. Be aware that most of the "research" you do will lead you to old, out-dated, incorrect info that has been parroted for decades and is based off of incorrect assumptions about how they live in the wild.
For number 18, are you saying not to give tortoises outdoor time while supervised? Sun is good for uvb, so I thought letting them outside, supervised was good.
 

KarenSoCal

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For number 18, are you saying not to give tortoises outdoor time while supervised? Sun is good for uvb, so I thought letting them outside, supervised was good.
Yes, outside is good...in a proper outdoor enclosure. In # 18 Tom is referring to people who allow their tortoise to roam inside on the floor, or outside with no enclosure.

Lots of people post that they follow the tortoise outside closely, and never take their eyes off it. Frequently, their next post starts out "I only glanced away for an instant! How do I find a lost tortoise?"!
 

Agathaade

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May 25, 2020
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122
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Los Angeles
I wish I had known that my hatchling would dig itself and disappear under the substrate on its first day, driving me crazy thinking I had somehow failed to take care of him for even one day, that I had lost him and that my brain is scrambled!

Around 4pm yesterday, I brought our baby greek, Miguel Shimmery (my 3yo named it), in from outside and set him in his indoor enclosure for the rest of the day. Minutes later he had disappeared! I panicked and checked the setup for possible escape routes. Found none. Nothing was close enough to the high smooth plastic sides that he could have climbed out. I was dumbfounded and so worried! Had I left him outside??? I checked outside, I checked the floor, I checked behind furniture. It didn’t make any sense, I remembered setting him in there and spraying his shell! I poked around the substrate lightly and didn’t find him! I decided that the most logical and natural thing was he must have dug himself in the substrate and we would see him in the morning. But in the morning... no Miguel. Panick hit again and I started taking the whole set-up apart, scooping out the substrate and all when... I found him peacefully asleep under the orchid bark.
I didn’t know hatchlings slept like that! Little guy! I was so nervous. Such a fright.

Be warned, new owners!

I just checked on him and after a busy hungry morning, he’s at it again!

Should I be worried that he has picked a napping spot on the edge of his basking area? I just temp-gunned around him and read 93/94f.

EFADE23C-82D1-49AB-BB57-C7ADF10D65CE.jpeg
image.jpg
 
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gracenoel15

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Feb 24, 2021
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Battle Ground, WA
Your heating elements will not burn through the screen top of a tank. That was a fun period.

Clamp lamps are very dangerous. Curtis was named Lucky at first for a reason.

Go as big as you possibly can with the grow out enclosure for a Sulcata.

It is literally impossible to hold 80%+ humidity in a screen topped tank where I live.

Tortoise enclosure kits are stupid and shouldn’t be bought.
What kind of heat lamp do you recommend? I am new to my tort and did a ton of research but this is the first I am seeing about light sources. I want to do what is best for my buddy.
 

ma_fitz

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Joined
Dec 10, 2020
Messages
11
Location (City and/or State)
Gibsonia
  1. Closed chambers instead of open tops.
  2. Tortoises need huge amounts of room, much more than other types of reptiles or pets.
  3. No cfl UV bulbs.
  4. Pet stores usually sell unnecessary, sometimes detrimental and overpriced products and give terrible tortoise care advice. My apologies to the few exceptions, but you are a rare breed.
  5. No colored bulbs.
  6. No "spot" bulbs.
  7. Use a thermostat to control ambient temps.
  8. Avoid grocery store produce in favor of better items found for free.
  9. Using Mazuri as a supplemental food is good.
  10. Don't overdo the calcium supplementation.
  11. Too much time outside is bad for babies.
  12. The vast majority of tortoise species are NOT "desert" animals. They need water and at least moderate humidity. Especially as babies.
  13. Is will never be cheap or easy to house giant species in climates with freezing winter weather.
  14. Never mix species or allow them to have contact with each other, or each other's stuff, or each other's spaces.
  15. Tortoises should not be kept in pairs.
  16. Tortoises don't get lonely and other tortoises are not seen as "friends'.
  17. Tortoise do NOT get all their water from the food they eat. Babies of all species should be soaked daily.
  18. Letting tortoises roam free in the house or yard is a mistake. Eventually, it is likely to cause the tortoise's death or loss. It doesn't matter how close you intend to supervise. Use an enclosure.
  19. If the tap water is safe for you, its safe for your tortoise.
  20. Most breeders do not start babies correctly. When you find one that does, spread the word. Daily soaks, humid environment, mostly indoors, a WIDE variety of foods, etc... Don't support the ones who are doing it wrong.
  21. Be aware that most of the "research" you do will lead you to old, out-dated, incorrect info that has been parroted for decades and is based off of incorrect assumptions about how they live in the wild.

Please listen to Tom's advice and read his care sheet! He is very experienced and I have received great advice from him.

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

I can tell you now that coming to tortoise forum before going out to buy your tortoise was the best idea! You are in a great position right now. I was not as fortunate as you and decided that based off my knowledge of reptiles and experience with venomous and nonvenomous snakes, I would be fine doing research and getting her right away. I was WRONG and arrogant! As soon as I did get her, I hopped on tortoise forum to make sure I was caring for her correctly. This is when I found out that there is an extreme amount of incorrect information from seemingly reliable sources. Setting it up correctly (correct temps, humidity, closed-chamber, etc) will save you SO much money and time. These creatures are incredible animals that we get the honor of enjoying. You will absolutely love taking care of them and well, they do become an addiction! So again, kudos to you for coming here before purchasing!

What I will say going forward, is pay close attention to care sheets like the one posted above (depending on which type of tortoise you plan to buy.) Read, Read, READ as much as you can on this forum! These are experienced tort owners and know their stuff. Also, post any question you have and figure it out before moving forward. Upfront it will cost a good bit of money, but will last and be sufficient to raise a healthy, happy tortoise!

One thing I wish I knew about tortoises before I bought mine was that tortoise forum existed!!

Have fun researching & learning! Your tortoise will thank you for it.
 
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Toddrickfl1

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I agree on the space, lol What do you mean by that they are addictive?
A lot of people, myself included, start with one tort then before they realize it they're sleeping in their smaller guest bedroom because the other rooms, basement, and dining room are full of turtle/tortoise enclosures.
 

Taylorlynn48

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TORTOISES are MORE expensive than yourself, and humans in general!!!! Make sure you have the money to care for your tortoise, if you want it healthy and to live a long hearty life of course.
 

Taylorlynn48

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1.) Make sure when purchasing a tortoise, IF it BE a pet-store that you are alert to it's behavior. You can avoid a sick tort by testing it's physical health by using your senses. Is the tortoise alert? Is he able to walk on all his limbs? How does his skin look? Shell health? Eye/Nose/Breathing health?
IF you shop for a tort ONLINE, do research on here, or on there website for reputable breeders.

2.)I recommend not giving torts that do not require fruits as a part of their nutrition to be avoided.
ONLY add what is made available to them and is SAFE from where they are from.

3.) MAKE sure you remove waste and get new substrate every few months depending on how dirty the enclosure gets with waste, so your tort doesn't get sick from its own feces. (A clean enclosure leads to a healthy happy tort)

4.) MAKE sure to exchange bulbs every 6 months or so depending on how long you keep them on. Bulbs are good up to 2,000 hours for effectiveness..

5.) DO a LOT of research on the type of tortoise you are interested in. I lucked out with my Russian tortoise, since they stay a fair size. Most tortoises do get big. Many do not stay small.

6.) Tortoises DO NEED MUCH ATTENTION. They will notice you, and get comfortable with you.
They like to climb, and be silly... GET READY FOR IT.
Make sure the enclosure is tortoise friendly and safe.

7.) DO not let your tortoise freely roam your house without your awareness, be aware they WILL poo and pee as they explore.

8.) Tortoises are similar to dogs. They sniff everything, want your attention, have crazy silly personalities!

9.) They will probably, and most likely out live you!

Here is my happy guy, because I give him a happy healthy life ☺🐢
P.S I tried using a saucer, HE LOVES his deep bowl because he will climb in his bowl when he is finished to show his mommy how good of a boy he is after eating all his lettuce!
 

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maggie3fan

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1.) Make sure when purchasing a tortoise, IF it BE a pet-store that you are alert to it's behavior. You can avoid a sick tort by testing it's physical health by using your senses. Is the tortoise alert? Is he able to walk on all his limbs? How does his skin look? Shell health? Eye/Nose/Breathing health?
IF you shop for a tort ONLINE, do research on here, or on there website for reputable breeders.

2.)I recommend not giving torts that do not require fruits as a part of their nutrition to be avoided.
ONLY add what is made available to them and is SAFE from where they are from.

3.) MAKE sure you remove waste and get new substrate every few months depending on how dirty the enclosure gets with waste, so your tort doesn't get sick from its own feces. (A clean enclosure leads to a healthy happy tort)

4.) MAKE sure to exchange bulbs every 6 months or so depending on how long you keep them on. Bulbs are good up to 2,000 hours for effectiveness..

5.) DO a LOT of research on the type of tortoise you are interested in. I lucked out with my Russian tortoise, since they stay a fair size. Most tortoises do get big. Many do not stay small.

6.) Tortoises DO NEED MUCH ATTENTION. They will notice you, and get comfortable with you.
They like to climb, and be silly... GET READY FOR IT.
Make sure the enclosure is tortoise friendly and safe.

7.) DO not let your tortoise freely roam your house without your awareness, be aware they WILL poo and pee as they explore.

8.) Tortoises are similar to dogs. They sniff everything, want your attention, have crazy silly personalities!

9.) They will probably, and most likely out live you!

Here is my happy guy, because I give him a happy healthy life ☺🐢
P.S I tried using a saucer, HE LOVES his deep bowl because he will climb in his bowl when he is finished to show his mommy how good of a boy he is after eating all his lettuce!
So then, when you got a tortoise you didn't know you would have an uncontrollable desire to post care sheets...?;)
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Jan 9, 2010
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Southern California
1.) Make sure when purchasing a tortoise, IF it BE a pet-store that you are alert to it's behavior. You can avoid a sick tort by testing it's physical health by using your senses. Is the tortoise alert? Is he able to walk on all his limbs? How does his skin look? Shell health? Eye/Nose/Breathing health?
IF you shop for a tort ONLINE, do research on here, or on there website for reputable breeders.

2.)I recommend not giving torts that do not require fruits as a part of their nutrition to be avoided.
ONLY add what is made available to them and is SAFE from where they are from.

3.) MAKE sure you remove waste and get new substrate every few months depending on how dirty the enclosure gets with waste, so your tort doesn't get sick from its own feces. (A clean enclosure leads to a healthy happy tort)

4.) MAKE sure to exchange bulbs every 6 months or so depending on how long you keep them on. Bulbs are good up to 2,000 hours for effectiveness..

5.) DO a LOT of research on the type of tortoise you are interested in. I lucked out with my Russian tortoise, since they stay a fair size. Most tortoises do get big. Many do not stay small.

6.) Tortoises DO NEED MUCH ATTENTION. They will notice you, and get comfortable with you.
They like to climb, and be silly... GET READY FOR IT.
Make sure the enclosure is tortoise friendly and safe.

7.) DO not let your tortoise freely roam your house without your awareness, be aware they WILL poo and pee as they explore.

8.) Tortoises are similar to dogs. They sniff everything, want your attention, have crazy silly personalities!

9.) They will probably, and most likely out live you!

Here is my happy guy, because I give him a happy healthy life ☺🐢
P.S I tried using a saucer, HE LOVES his deep bowl because he will climb in his bowl when he is finished to show his mommy how good of a boy he is after eating all his lettuce!
I don't agree with some of these.
3. If spot cleaned daily, and in the case of babies that are soaked daily and poop in the soak water, there is no need to replace the substrate.
4. No need to replace bulbs every six months. Most of mine, including UV tubes, last much longer than that.
6. This is not true at all. They are reptiles and are perfectly happy to be left alone. At best they desensitize to human contact and tolerate it. Some learn to have a positive food association with people. Some get territorial with people and attack them. But they are not puppies.
7. This one should have stopped at "Do not let your tortoise freely roam your house". The end. It is not a safe practice and almost always leads to disaster.
8. Not true at all, and this misrepresentation will lead to disappointment for people who expecte their new tortoise to act like what you describe. Most tortoises do not behave that way.
 
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