I Just Bought a Tortoise, Now What do I do?

Out of all the pets out there, tortoises are one of the most adorable and long-lived species out there. Not only do they come equipped with their own beds, they’re fun to look at and watch, as well as feed and play with. These gentle reptiles are very difficult to care for, but they make some of the best companions.

Buying a tortoise is a lifetime commitment. Most tortoises, like sea turtles, have lifespans longer than some people. A tortoise lives as long or longer than a parrot- which typically live for as many as 80 years. These high-end pets might even outlive you! This means that you should have arrangements made as early as possible for taking care of your pet whenever the time comes that you personally cannot care for the tortoise.

Take Your Tortoise in For its First Veterinarian Checkup
You absolutely have to take your tortoise to the vet when you first get one. Why? Because tortoises, like every other animal, need to have check-ups. If yours seems sluggish, or is acting unusual, you should look into evaluating your tortoises diet and nutrition. If its’ eyes seem cloudy, you might want to take it to the Veterinarian to check as see if it has a various disease. Your vet will check your tortoises shell to check for damages and to make sure that it’s normal. It’s a common misconception that the shell isn’t part of their body, but it’s just as important as any other part of their body. If you notice anything wrong with your tortoises shell, you should take it to the doctor immediately.

Veterinarians will recommend that you always wash you and your children’s hands every single time you handle them. This is because tortoises carry Salmonella, and it can make you sick. We even recommend that every time you handle the food bowls, water bowls and even the decorations that you put in its’ aquarium.

Housing Your Tortoise
All tortoises require very large environments- typically 30-50 gallon aquariums. Tortoises also need a heat source, because they’re reptiles. You should try to maintain a temperature around 75-80 degrees annually, because they aren’t very efficient at regulating their own body temperatures. Additionally, turtles need vitamin D, because their bodies don’t produce it normally. Make sure that you also give it somewhere to hide, because it provides security for your tortoise, reducing stress. Of course, the shelter should be large enough that the tortoise can enter, be hidden from view, and move easily.

When it comes to water, just a small pan that allows the tortoise to be covered if it so chooses. The rest of the aquarium should be filled with bedding materials, NOT WOOD CHIPS. Wood Chips harbor moisture and bacteria and create a noxious smell. Additionally, your tortoise might eat the wood chips and get sick. Typically speaking, sand and soil make the best bedding because they retain heat from your heat lamps and are easy to clean and maintain.

What do Tortoises Eat?
Tortoises are omnivores by nature, and you should provide your tortoises with large amounts of vegetation, like leafy greens, cabbage, celery and broccoli are great for your tortoises, and give it some fruit as a treat every now and again. You’ll also want to feed your tortoise some protein like fresh fish, shrimp or insects, to guarantee it gets the proper amounts of nutrients. Avoid feeding your tortoise pre-prepared commercial turtle diets, keep it natural to provide your new pet with the absolute best possible nutrition.

Hibernation
Tortoises hibernate for as many as eight months out of the year, depending on where you live. Generally, the further away from the equator you live, the longer they’ll hibernate, so don’t worry if your tortoise seems a little inactive or sluggish- it’s completely normal and natural. Understanding your tortoises lifestyle will help you decide exactly how you should raise your newest addition to your family, so take time to understand their habits- namely feeding, hibernation and temperature requirements.

Tortoises make amazing pets, but they require constant care, dedication, planning, and patience. If you take good care of your pet, you could easily have a tortoise that lives longer than you do! Make sure to keep yours clean, happy and healthy, and you’ll be amazed how friendly they can become.

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