Many pet owners prefer tortoises because they are quiet, cute, and do not shed any fur. Apart from their amazing body structures, tortoises are amongst the oldest animals in the world. They have a long lifespan, and with good care, they can outlive their owners.
The following are some of the most fascinating facts about tortoises:
- They eat only vegetables.
- They spend the majority of their time on dry land.
- They're reptiles, after all.
- They live a long time (the record stands at 189 years).
The Difference Between a Tortoise and a Turtle
Tortoises and turtles usually cause a lot of confusion, majorly because of their resembling body structures. Below, we have covered the major differences between the two:
- A tortoise lives on land while turtles dwell in water bodies.
- Tortoises have large, dome-shaped shells, while turtles have flat, streamlined shells.
- Tortoises live an average of between 50 to 100 years, while turtles can live anywhere between 20-40 years.
- A tortoise has short, sturdy feet with bent legs while a turtle has webbed feet with long claws.
- Tortoises feed on plants, while turtles are omnivores.
Factors to Consider When Getting a Pet Tortoise
As is the case when picking any other type of pet, getting a pet tortoise requires that you consider some factors. They include:
1. Know what tortoise species you want
Even with distinction from turtles, there are still many tortoise species to pick from- you need to figure out which species to buy. This is important because any drastic change in the species' diet, location, or environment can be minuscule.
For instance, you cannot take a fully-grown forest tortoise species such as the Red-foot tortoise and bring it into your home. The red-foot tortoise depends on high humidity to survive, so taking it away from its natural habitat can be disastrous.
You can find your ideal tortoise species at pet stores when it is still young. This way, it can grow to acclimatize with whatever environment you expose it to. Asking key questions about tortoise species can go a long way to ensuring that you are successful in your quest.
2. Consider the lifespan of the tortoise species
The long lifespan of tortoises has meant that if you purchase one for your kid, if kept well, they will probably grow together past their 50s. Pet tortoises are fun to have around as long as you understand their needs, and more importantly, understand their lifespan.
Some common species to pick from include:
- The red-footed tortoise has a lifespan of between 50 to 60 years.
- The yellow-footed tortoise has a lifespan of between 60-70 years.
- The Russian tortoise can live to a maximum of 60 years.
- The Sulcata tortoise- has a lifespan of about 100 years
- Hermann's tortoise- the oldest tortoise of this species, recorded a whopping 110 years.
3. Consider the tortoise's diet
Tortoises majorly feed on fibrous foods, with a considerable amount being fibrous vegetables. The rest are fruits and a smaller portion of proteins. Before purchasing a pet tortoise, it is essential to understand its diet and figure out how to keep it alive.
Tricks such as using tortoise flower toppers are an excellent way to keep your pet interested in eating their food. Overfeeding on proteins can cause malnutrition, improper shell growth, and stunted growth. On the other hand, incorporating calcium into your pet's meals is a good idea.
4. Proper lighting
Regardless of the species you opt for, you need to provide it with heat and light to ensure its survival. For half a day, forest tortoises will require constant lighting using a 5.0 UVB light. The desert tortoises, on the other hand, require 10.0 UVB bulb lighting.
UVB light is important for your pet tortoise because it aids in synthesizing Vitamin D3, which allows your pet to metabolize calcium supplements. Failure to access UVB light can cause Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). Its symptoms include:
- Bowed legs
- Lack of appetite
- Softening of the lower jaw, which is always very strong.
- Difficulty in mobility
5. The enclosure size
Before opting for a pet tortoise, you must have enough space to accommodate it. The size of your space will depend on the type of tortoise species that you opt for, because different species grow to different lengths. Either way, even for the smaller species, you need an adequate enclosure for your pet tortoise.
Behavior and Temperament of Pet Tortoises
If you are a beginner and you do not know what to expect, here is something for you; tortoises are generally docile and shy. However, putting two males in the same enclosure is not advisable because they can become very aggressive towards each other. In most cases, they will attack each other, causing serious injuries.
It is advisable to find a young tortoise, then grow and shape it in the environment that you want. Handling adult tortoises can be stressful both for you and the pet. Changing the environment and diet of an adult tortoise can cause stress, which will eventually lead to illness.
As aforementioned, tortoises have a very long lifespan. This means that you must have a plan for caring for your pet even in its old age.
Where to Get a Pet Tortoise
Pet tortoises can be found in pet stores, depending on your location. The prices vary depending on the age, species, and vulnerability of the tortoise. When purchasing a pet tortoise, it is important to ask for veterinary services. Finding a veterinary officer to look after your pet tortoise when sick can be frustrating in some places.
The Key Takeaway
Tortoises, no matter the species, if taken care of, can make fantastic pets. With their long lifespans, you can grow with them into your old age. Even though a tortoise resembles a turtle, they have plenty of differentiating factors. These can range from the shape of their feet to where they spend their time.
When purchasing a pet tortoise, apart from going for a relatively younger one, it is important to consider factors such as the species of the tortoise, its housing, diet, and lifespan.