How do I Take Care of my New Pet Tortoise?

A tortoise might not be your first choice when you’re initially considering purchasing a new pet, but you’d be amazed how great of a pet they actually make. They’re easy enough to care for after you establish the basics- like heat lamps for perfect temperatures, and large enough areas for them to live and thrive. All it take is a little know-how and some patience, and you could easily have a forever friend that lives as long as you do. Sometimes, tortoises live even longer than people do- and some even have to establish a back-up plan if anything were to ever happen to them, showing how much of an investment tortoises actually are. While it’s easy enough to purchase a pet, tortoises, when raised properly provide excellent entertainment and much more longevity (and also responsibility) than most other varieties of pet.

We’ll provide you with the valuable information you need to raise your tortoise to perfect health and maintain a healthy relationship with your newest pet addition. Before you even establish a name for your tortoise, take the time to follow these important steps:

Take Your New Tortoise to the Veterinarian for a Check-Up
You never know what condition your tortoise REALLY is in when you purchase one unless you take it to the vet. Furthermore, if your tortoise ever becomes sluggish, has cloudy eyes, or begins acting unusual, take it to the Veterinarian immediately- these could be signs of a wide variety of conditions, usually poor diet and malnutrition or one of a wide variety of tortoise diseases.

Your vet will check a wide variety of things, probably providing you with very useful information. The first thing that they’ll check is to make sure that your tortoise has a healthy, complete shell without deformities, cracks or breaks. Often, people have the assumption that you can simply remove a tortoise from its’ shell, but this misconception couldn’t be farther from the truth. A tortoise’s shell provides an essential part of its skeleton, as well as warm and cozy environment under its’ heat lamp. Your vet will probably also notify you that you and your family members should always wash their hands after handling a tortoise or any of it’s surroundings, because all reptiles carry Salmonella, which makes people especially sick.

Providing the Right Environment- Tortoise Necessities for Housing
The first thing you need to do when establishing your tortoises environment is to discover whether or not it has webbed or non-webbed feet. Generally speaking, most tortoises live on land, but there are alternative varieties that live in both environments. Generally speaking, your tortoise should have a dry environment with just enough water that they can completely submerge themselves if necessary, but plenty of dry space and a heat lamp that provides consistent 75-80 degree temperatures, because tortoises are reptiles and don’t maintain their core temperatures very efficiently. Most tortoises will fit excellently in 30-50 gallon aquariums, and their bedding should be primarily sand or soil. DON’T USE WOOD CHIPS, because your tortoise will eat them and get sick, as they absorb moisture, grow bacteria, and begin to smell. Plus, sand is a better conductor of heat, and will help keep your tortoise warm.

Providing Food For Your Tortoise- What Guidelines to Follow
Tortoises are by nature omnivores, which means you should provide them with vegetables, fish, shrimp, insects and various small amounts of fruit to maintain a tortoises optimal health. You should feed your tortoise primarily leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, or cabbage, as well as celery, broccoli, carrots and other vegetables as the basis of its’ diet, supplementing small amounts of protein as necessary to guarantee proper nutrition. Provide small amounts of fruits as treats, but don’t use them as major staples to a tortoises’ diet. Also, don’t spend extra money on “tortoise food”. Stick to whole foods like you would eat to maintain a tortoises optimal health, because you never know what’s ACTUALLY in processed tortoise food.

My Tortoise Has Been Asleep For a Long Time Now… RELAX, It’s Probably Hibernating
Tortoises hibernate anywhere from 6-8 months of the year, depending on the climate and latitude that they’re located at. The further away from the equator your tortoise is, the longer it will hibernate, it’s completely normal. If you provide a consistent temperature year-round, sometimes your tortoise will resist hibernation, but don’t count on it. As long as your tortoise is happily in its’ shell, you should assume there’s nothing wrong with it.

Invest in a tortoise as a pet! Some people claim that they’re a lot of work, but as long as you’re eating fruits and vegetables yourself, you always have a food source for your pet, and you don’t have to buy overpriced varieties of food. After you set up a tortoises environment, they pretty much take care of themselves. Sand is easy to clean, so you haven’t got to worry about big messes, and tortoises live longer than most other pets you would consider- like fish and even cats and dogs- so you can really have the same pet as long as you live, which is a very novel idea.

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"Horsefield Care Cheat Sheet" 
Downloadable Guide