Tortoises are land dwelling reptiles from the family of Testudines
Tortoises are gental creatures and make great pets especially for beginners
Commercially available food pellets are available for tortoises at most pet stores. Be sure that you buy the right type (Land tortoise) as the dietary needs of Land tortoise are very different from that of Aquatics and Semi-Aquatics turtles. The staple diet of the land tortoise is leafy greens Even if you choose to use food pellets, treat your tortoise to these treats to make him happy dandelion leaves, soft round lettuce (not iceburg). They are all mostly herbivores.
Keep fresh water for drinking and bathing available at all times.
Tortoise housing should be as large as possible they need much more room than most reptiles, at least 1m in length, a wooden or plastic base with a well ventilated top, with overhead heating bulb to about 29-30C for it to bask in, the right lighting is very important it must contain uvb in order to give the tortoise vitamin D3 for a healthy shell and for its body to repair itself.
Substrate can be reptile wood chips, coconut husks, non treated peat. this needs to be fairly deep as they love to dig,
During the summer months on good days they can go outside, in a specially designed tortoise run, preferably with a solid base. They are good at digging and escaping. large older tortoises can even live in a secure garden during the warmer months.
Tortoises should be bathed every week, to encourage drinking helping them go to the toilet. This can be done with luke warm water in a shallow bowl, never cover them with water completely.
In the wild tortoises can hibernate for up to 8 months of the year this is to conserve energy and food, but in captivity kept within comfortable surrounding the may only hibernate for 2 months. they should get a check up with the vet first to make sure they are in good general health and the correct weight.
Most land tortoises will get along fine with each other.
Terrapins and Turtles
A large glass fish tank at least 3ft x 2ft x 2ft is best for a young turtle although if more space can be given then this is even better. when they are adult and if you have a pair 5ft x 2ft x 2ft is necessary a land area should be available to them in the form of a floating dock
Water heaters should be kept at 22 to 24oC for youngsters and 20oC for adults, the majority of turtles will reduce their feeding if the water temperature falls below 16oC for too long. UVB lighting this should be above the tank fitted to the hood, is essential for them, replace the bulb every 6 months.
Terrapins are best to be fed as varied a diet as possible, suitable foods include complete pellets that can be bought in most pet shops, earthworms, crickets, locusts,(not too often they are hard to digest), waxworms, mealworms snails, pond weeds, water cress, and other leafy greans, dandelions, prawns (preferably with shells on), Most youngsters start off as being carnivorous leading onto a more omnivorous diet as adults.
Turtles and terrapins often live in excess of 25-30 years.
They can be smelly, and need regular cleaning out to keep your turtles healthy and happy. Filter water with a submersible canister type filter. They come is various brands and sizes designed for different sized tanks. clean filters once every three to four days and use a product to keep the water fresher you can get this in good petshops you’ll see that you can go longer between full water changes, remembering the risks of salmonella, wash your hands with a good quality anti-bacterial soap after any contact
A Quick note about Salmonella
Salmonella infection, contrary to popular belief, is not a “Turtle Disease”. It’s transmitted by any polluted water, regardless of the animal involved. If you keep your tank clean, Salmonella is not something you should worry about (unless you have a weakened immune system due to HIV, Lyme disease or any other disorders that may affect the immune system). Turtles do, however, have a tendency to void their bladders upon being picked up, so you might want to wash your hands after handling anyway. The most effective way to avoid the possible transmission of Salmonella from a turtle is to clean their tank away from areas where food is prepared.