What is the general consensus on IN-DOOR housing of tortoise?

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Akuma

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Hello.

After reading this article I've come to the conclusion that having a tortoise in-doors 24/7 is something people in here generally is against.

I keep my tortoise indoors all year around and whenever I ask questions regarding my terrarium or taking care of the tortoise people in this forum generally respond to my questions as if I lived in a large house in a sub-tropical climare with a large back yard at my disposal. It is almost that everyone in these forums take for granted that I have my tortoise out-doors.

This is not the case.

I live in a small student apartement in the large Northern European City.
It is impossible to keep my tortoise outside because the average low temperatures would instantly kill the tortoise.
It seems that as far as I know; I am the only one in this forum who houses a tortoise indoors all-year.

So my question is, what is the general consensus on housing a tortoise in-door all year around, and before you people think that I'm having my tortoise crammed in some small vivarium in my house - I am following the national regulation when it comes to size of the enclosure in proportion to the tortoise. Swedish regulation says that a 20 cm (~8 inch.) long tortoise requires a minimum 1 square meter (1550 Square Inches). My tortoise is smaller than that and he has a 1 square meter tortoise box.

So, what is your opinion on housing a tortoise indoor all year around?
 

Clementine_3

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Akuma said:
It seems that as far as I know; I am the only one in this forum who houses a tortoise indoors all-year.
Nope, you're not the only one! I live in an apartment and can't keep my tortoise outside either. He's a 5 1/2" Greek and lives inside year round, he has a 4' x 3' table with lights and I do take him out to wander around, closely supervised of course. I would love to be able to take him outside but they insist on treating the grounds here with pesticides so in he stays.

Of course it would be optimal to keep them outside but it's just not always possible. He has a better home with me than the one he had with the people I got him from and I am doing the best I can to be sure he gets everything he needs. It's all we really can do at the end of the day ;)
 

Millerlite

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Yeah you arn't the only one who keeps them indoors all year around, A lot of people can't keep them outdoors because of weather, or space. I had to keep a few of mine indoors when i use to live in an apartment, its possible and people are doing it, Tortoises most likely can live a long time indoor, but its hard to say if they would over all live longer then a tortoise ourdoors.... I dont know, Maybe there is someone who has a indoor turtle over 10-20 years old..
 

Yvonne G

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I'm very much against it. My thinking is that a tortoise is still a wild animal...that is to say, they haven't gone through years and years of human intervention to make them into domesticated animals. As a wild animal, they do much better outside. Its better for their physical AND their mental well-being.

I realize there are times when you must keep one indoors, but in my opinion, that should not be the norm. And here's where I will probably ruffle some feathers: In my opinion, if you don't live in an area that has good tortoise weather for at least 6 months out of the year, then you have no business getting a tortoise. Sorry. That's how I feel.

Yvonne
 

Clementine_3

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emysemys said:
In my opinion, if you don't live in an area that has good tortoise weather for at least 6 months out of the year, then you have no business getting a tortoise.
No ruffled feathers but...
You really have to take this one step further then, disallow the sale of or transportation into such states or elicit new laws to closely monitor to whom torts are sold and under what conditions. I can't imagine that is what you would like to see happen?

Hypothetical question, if you found yourself in a situation where you had to move to a colder climate would you leave your torts behind? What if no one you knew wanted them? Would you drop them off at rescue not really knowing if they would be cared for?

Yes, I am sure it is much better for them to live south of the Mason Dixon line or in Southern California but not all tort lovers have the luxury of living there. I live in NY, if I could keep Turtle outside I would. As I said, I can't so I do the best I can for him. As some may recall his prior living conditions were not that great...a 20 gallon glass tank, no hides, barely any substrate (and chunky stuff at that), a way tiny water bowl, a halogen lamp on 24/7 for heat and a coil UVB bulb in a damp/musty basement. I maintain he is doing better with me now even though he lives inside. He was sold in a pet shop to anyone who would fork over the $140. Until something is done about that then I would much rather know he is at least cared for by someone who cares about him than someone who doesn't.

The pet trade in general is out of whack but I don't see any viable solutions on the horizon either.

I'm really not being argumentative and my feathers really aren't ruffled. I do actually sort of agree with you too, but it doesn't and won't work that way.
 

Yvonne G

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Clementine_3 said:
No ruffled feathers but...
You really have to take this one step further then, disallow the sale of or transportation into such states or elicit new laws to closely monitor to whom torts are sold and under what conditions. I can't imagine that is what you would like to see happen?

Its not up to me or the government to "police" whether or not you and your climate are suited to having a tortoise. In my opinion, each person should put the good of the tortoise first. If its not good for the tortoise, then don't be selfish and buy one just because you want one.

I don't look down on anyone, or think I'm any better than anyone. If you have a tortoise and live in a climate where the tortoise can't spend a lot of time outside, I'll still do my damndest to help you and I'll give you my best advice. But the question was asked, and I gave a truthful answer.

Yvonne
 

Livingstone

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I dont think theres anything wrong with keeping a tortoise indoors, I know snake breeders and lizard breeders keep animals in far more constrained housing than we keep our indoor torts in. I think as long as you give the animal the care it needs there should be no diminished life expectancy from being indoors. In South Africa we kept many tortoises outside and the only ones that ever died did so because they were exposed to something outside, be it domestic animals or chemicals. No animal that Ive owned and kept indoors has ever died from anything other than being old.
 

Clementine_3

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emysemys said:
I don't look down on anyone, or think I'm any better than anyone. If you have a tortoise and live in a climate where the tortoise can't spend a lot of time outside, I'll still do my damndest to help you and I'll give you my best advice.
I did not mean to imply that you looked down on anyone or thought you were better, if you felt that is what I meant I am truly sorry.
And I certainly appreciate your damndest help...I have asked many questions and received nothing but good advice. I was not knocking you or your knowledge or opinion, just wondering out loud about your stance on this, that's all...nothing more. Again, if I offended or came off as rude it was not my intent.
There is a lot of legislation being bandied about to restrict snake ownership, I have snakes and am doing what I can to help squash any silly bit of new bill brought about. Perhaps I overreacted in this thread but still do believe torts can be kept indoors ;)
 

Jacqui

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My opinion is, that when possible they should have outdoor time. If the only outside time you can give is an hour on the weekends and only during the summer months, then do it. The more time the better.

Now with that being said, I live in Nebraska. My native animals are outside 24/7 all year long (they hibernate in their enclosures). About half my animals get to stay outside as soon as temps are warm enough. At first it's a back breaking in and out as temps warm, then cool back down. Hatchlings get time out, day time only and when somebody is there watching.

I might make Yvonne's required 6 months outside, but not by a whole lot. A lot depends what tortoise your owning too. My Russians can stay out longer then my Leopard can.

To me, it's not a hard and fast rule. It's more taking what you have, such as a small apartment and how willing you are to do things to maximize what you have. Such as a larger inside area, time spent "walking" your tortoise to allow it time out in the sun and to graze, ect..,
 
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Maggie Cummings

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I have 27 turtles and tortoises. I put the inside ones out everyday. I make sure that I do everything possible for them. The best UVB bulbs, food etc. But I kinda don't think it's fair to take a grazing animal and raise him inside without ever being on grass. Mine live inside, but like I said I put everybody outside everyday...
I have a 70 pound Sulcata who lives in the Pacific NorthWest but he goes outside when he wants and he does go out in the cold. I am not real sure if I am being fair to him or not.
 

Madkins007

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My opinion is that if you have the right species (ie- it would be hard to raise a Sulcata indoors), offer it enough room through its life, and offer the right climate- including relatively natural lighting- then go for it.

It would not be optimal, but we can rarely offer optimal conditions for our tortoises. No matter how hard I try, I cannot replicate a South American tropical savanna for my Red-foots, so the issue is how far can I get from that ideal and be doing a good job? Zoos raise small tortoises inside all of the time and do it well enough for them to breed.

I only wish that more American keepers would emulate the ideals of many European keepers in their efforts to do things right. (Of course, the detail that many European countries have laws about things like space needs, etc. helps.)
 

tortoisenerd

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I am raising my tort indoors. I do my best to keep him happy. There are few breeds I would do this with, it takes a lot of time and money, but I think I'm doing ok. Hopefully someday he can spend more time outside (he only got outside maybe 6 times this year on the patio due to weather and supervision), but we're planning for the "worst" of setting him up inside. I guess I'm selfish in keeping a tort this way in some people's opinion, but I guess many torts have it much worse. No, I generally would not recommend to someone else to get a tort and only keep it inside, but if asked, I'll give them instructions as it was my own tort. I do however think it's silly when someone lives for example in an apartment and buys a tort who will someday grow large, without definite plans of what they will do at that time. Also, Tortoise Trust is rather conservative.
 

Millerlite

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like i said is there anyone with a tortoise thats been indoor 24/7 for a long period of time, more then a year, more then two years, aim for like 10-20 years, I think its alright when you house them indoor to raise them till they are big enough for outdoors, shoot i will go out on a limb and say a tortoise could last 10 years indoors, but will that tortoise live to be as old as it should get like 40-50 years, who knows, tortoises are pretty new to "pet trade" well at least the right care is... Its a interesting debate because we all know outdoors in idea and the best way to keep a tortoise, but its hard to say if indoors will be really bad.

as far as how i do it, or try too, i put tortoises out early then most would, I have had my tortoises outside at 3months old, when weather permits i let them stay out 24/7, i worry a lot, but i really try and let them do there own thing. My greek tortoises were out since 2 months old, and stayed out till they were 2 years old when i sold them because of a move, they were did really well outdoors even on cool nights, they just bunkered down on cool nights bask in the morning, Only time i brought them in was raining/wet day which we get a lot of in so. cali. My leopards and sulcata same thing, they stay out even when the temps drop to the high 50s, as long as the next day is higher then 70 they do fine. My mt. tortoises right now been out since may (they were about 6-7 months when i got them in may) they been out ever since may, still outside, and 2 days ago had temps. that got to the high 40s..... I guess i let my tortoises stay as wild as possible, i mean i do check on them and worry like all tortoise owners, but seems the more they do stay out in the more extreme weather the better they handle it.

PS: leopards should not stay out when its extreamly cold, same with sulcata, but i live in so. cali, so temps get in the high 50s so far they handle it pretty well as long as the day are warm, as far as any cooler i would most likely take them in, use judgement and you cant go wrong. sorry for the long post, ha.
 

Madkins007

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Millerlite said:
...who knows, tortoises are pretty new to "pet trade" well at least the right care is... Its a interesting debate because we all know outdoors in idea and the best way to keep a tortoise, but its hard to say if indoors will be really bad....

I thought this was a funny statement- and I don't mean to tease anyone. Tortoises have been kept as pets for longer than almost anything but cats, dogs, and some birds. They were kept by the ancient Romans, and I believe the ancient Egyptians. Obviously, these folk could 'keep' them by just putting them in a walled garden in their native habitats, but they certainly are not new to the pet trade. One of the well-known long-lived tortoises was a house pet in the days of Captain Cook's voyages.

I will gladly admit that our cares are generally better then they used to be, but even in the 'dark ages' of cares, a lot of people kept them for very long times.

What we really LACK here is rigorous scientific studies, and it shows up in many ways. People have actively researched the best cares and diets for dogs, hamsters, etc. but for many reasons, there have been few controlled research studies on tortoises. No one has tried to raise a big group of tortoises of the same species for 10 years with 1/2 of them indoors and 1/2 outside in the same size pens with the same set-up, temps, and diet to see how they differ in how they grow.

Of course, we would have to repeat the experiment with big vs. small pens; natural light vs. UVB set to emulate natural vs. no UVB; etc.

Look at our discussions- we are mostly working off what works for us or what we have learned- but only rarely can we point to hard research and say that such as such is a known, proven fact.

(Of course, even when there IS research on a topic, we still manage to debate it sometimes! :) )
 

chadk

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Anytime we take an animal mean to be wild (non-domesticated) and cage it, we are certainly not doing what is best for it. This goes for a glass tank, tort table, outdoor pen, or nice big yard. Short of a full blown multi-acre sanctuary in an almost identical environment with room to roam, find mates, natural food sources, etc - we are going to fall short in some way.

With that said, pet torts are a fact of life. We should do what we can, within our control (money, time, location) and within reason (priorities... my kids come first...) to ensure they are well cared for.

For example, my sulcatas are not in an ideal environment. Even with a big yard, they are still constrained more than natural. And my climate is certainly not ideal (though the year round weeds and grass are nice). I would not go out of my way to import or by a sulcata to raise here in Western WA. But since I found some already here, living in conditions worse than I knew I could provide, I went ahead and took them in. Is it ideal for them? Certainly not! But they will get good care and probably survive much longer with me than with their previous owners (or if someone else got them who did not care for them right). So I do not feel bad for having them at all.

Also, another anlgle on this... In the wild, torts have many predators (man inlcuded) as well as exposure to disease, drought, starvation, flooding\drowning, fires, potential death from fighting with rival males, no vet help, etc etc. I can imagine the life expectencey of a batch of tort eggs from the time they are laid is pretty short. A small percentage will go on to break that 50 yr or greater mark. So while we strive to create a natural setting for them, and know we are restricted in many areas, we can be glad that we can balance the short comings with positives - such as safety, reliable food source, and so forth...
 
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Maggie Cummings

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chadk said:
Anytime we take an animal mean to be wild (non-domesticated) and cage it, we are certainly not doing what is best for it. This goes for a glass tank, tort table, outdoor pen, or nice big yard. Short of a full blown multi-acre sanctuary in an almost identical environment with room to roam, find mates, natural food sources, etc - we are going to fall short in some way.

With that said, pet torts are a fact of life. We should do what we can, within our control (money, time, location) and within reason (priorities... my kids come first...) to ensure they are well cared for.

For example, my sulcatas are not in an ideal environment. Even with a big yard, they are still constrained more than natural. And my climate is certainly not ideal (though the year round weeds and grass are nice). I would not go out of my way to import or by a sulcata to raise here in Western WA. But since I found some already here, living in conditions worse than I knew I could provide, I went ahead and took them in. Is it ideal for them? Certainly not! But they will get good care and probably survive much longer with me than with their previous owners (or if someone else got them who did not care for them right). So I do not feel bad for having them at all.

Also, another anlgle on this... In the wild, torts have many predators (man inlcuded) as well as exposure to disease, drought, starvation, flooding\drowning, fires, potential death from fighting with rival males, no vet help, etc etc. I can imagine the life expectencey of a batch of tort eggs from the time they are laid is pretty short. A small percentage will go on to break that 50 yr or greater mark. So while we strive to create a natural setting for them, and know we are restricted in many areas, we can be glad that we can balance the short comings with positives - such as safety, reliable food source, and so forth...

I read research somewhere that says out of all the turtle/tortoise eggs laid in the wild only 1% hatch and grow and out of that 1% only 1% live a 'normal' life span. So in that respect we certainly are treating them better then in the wild.
As you know I also live in the PNW and my Sulcata has the choice to go out in the wet cold or stay in. Last year he walked around in the snow and dug thru it to graze on frozen grass. But I wouldn't allow my smaller torts that same opportunity...
 

chadk

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Maggie - I want to see some pics of bob in the snow this year :)
 
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Maggie Cummings

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chadk said:
Maggie - I want to see some pics of bob in the snow this year :)

10/4!!!

This was from the first year we lived here. Bob was only about 30 pounds so I didn't allow him the free will to come and go. He will have that choice this year...

I put him in the snow and he starts sniffing it...
2po75gp.jpg


Sulcata trails in the snow
15o8qy0.jpg


Woo hoo! frozen grass!!!
2jtm9w.jpg


Is that all there is???
1y7j1c.jpg
 

chadk

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Ask and you shall receive :)

Nice pics! Snow cone for a sulcata?
 
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Maggie Cummings

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chadk said:
Ask and you shall receive :)

Nice pics! Snow cone for a sulcata?

Not that I'm a proud tortoise Mommie but I have about 3000 pictures of my animals stored in my computer...:)
 
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