How To Set Up Housing For A Horsefield Tortoise

Plants and Shrubs

There are many things you must know to set up your pets pen correctly (10 topics to be exact). I can’t  cover all of them in extreme detail here. I created a free email course that I actually cover everything. You can sign up for that at the right or bottom of this page by entering your email. What I will cover in great detail here are the types of plants and shrubs you need to have either in the outdoor or indoor housing.

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Tortoise Table Starter Kit ULTIMATE

Tortoise Table Starter Kit ULTIMATE
#1 Best bet to get you started the fastest and correctly. Includes everything you need to start. Takes all the guess work out of it! For someone getting their first Horsefield, this saves the hassle of piecing everything together yourself and wondering if it's right! Save by bundling and getting all the correct supplies in one place.
Tortoise Starter Kit ADVANCED

Tortoise Starter Kit ADVANCED
Excellent. Includes UV-A / UV-B lighting, engraved pets name, furnishings, food, manual and vitamins.
Grassland Natural Tortoise Food

Grassland Zoo Med Natural Tortoise Food
#1 Best bet for food because it is specifically designed for the Horsefield tortoise and its Testudo Genus. It's formulated just for them with the correct vitamins, minerals and fiber. All natural with no artificial colors or preservatives and mainly consists of their favorite, Dandelion and Yucca.
uvb, uva, visual light and heat Bulb

Exo Terra PT2192 Solar Glo Mercury Vapour Lamp
Perfect all in one bulb that delivers all the lighting your Horsefield will need when kept inside.
Pro Rep Tortoise Life Substrate 25 litres

Pro Rep Tortoise Life Substrate 25 litres
Reliable pro-grade substrate perfect for his housing environment. Buying packaged substrate over wild dirt etc. prevents many possible contamination problems. This is best mixed with other substate sources like Timothy hay, wood chips and sand. Keep dry to prevent shell rot.
Horsefield Care Made Easy

Advanced guide. This is the only guide that is made just for the Horsefield Tortoise. Includes everything on buying, housing, food, breeding, hibernation and health issues. All of the information you need to know specifically about your one type of pet, the Horsefield tortoise, is in this care guide.


Provide scattered plants and shrubs in the pen. This provides shade, shelter and edible vegetation. These play an important role as a sight barrier/hiding spot. With two or more Horsefield tortoises in the housing (never mix other types of tortoises in the same housing) the aggressor will lose interest very quickly when the other tortoise hides behind an object and he can no longer visibly see the other tortoise.

For the most part your Horsefield tortoise will know what he can and can not eat so do not let this worry you but to be on the safe side do not include any toxic plants, including:

Toxic Plants to Avoid

  • Aconite
  • Anemonesetting up your horsefield tortoises housing
  • Azalea
  • Begonia
  • Bird of Paradise
  • Buttercup
  • Calla lily
  • Cyclamen
  • Dianthus
  • Foxglove
  • Hemlock
  • Hydrangea
  • Ivylilly of the valley
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Lobelia
  • Mistletoe
  • Nightshade
  • Oleander
  • Prunus species
  • Ragwort
  • Rhododendron
  • Sweetpea

In the areas where you are planting shrubs and plants it is a good idea to add soil that will help them grow. This can include manure, miracle grow and any other materials that help each individual plant.

The natural plant growth in the housing can also work well. In most landscapes grass and weeds will naturally start growing in this space and can work great for flooring along the pen. Plants may also grow naturally in this space too with no planting or work on your part.

A great option is to take slips from several plants and shrubs in other parts of your yard and plant them inside the tortoise housing. Take a slip from either a solid branch or from the root (depending on the type of plant) to then transplant. This approach saves you money and it serves as a good indicator that that type of plant will survive and grow well since it is already doing so in your yard.

There are thousands of plants and shrubs that will work great for your tortoises outdoor housing. To start, here are some pre-approved ones that are edible and will work well in most backyards and climates:


  • Flowering MapleHow To Set Up Housing For A Horsefield Tortoise
  • bishop’s goutweed
  • yarrow
  • agave
  • aloe
  • Hollychock
  • Tall oat grass
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Shepard’s purse
  • chicory
  • Bermuda Grass
  • Wild carrot hibiscus
  • wild rosemary
  • fennel
  • Yellow bedstraw
  • Hibiscus
  • Prickly Pear
  • English plantain
  • Meadow sage
  • Chia
  • Fig


The Horsefield tortoise is used to a rocky and rough environment. In an artificial environment they thrive with these types of conditions. This natural environment is crucial because it will Untitledkeep them healthier and much happier with less stress when they feel at home. We are a bit more limited indoors with having live plants present but we will make up for that with other materials.

  • Place logs for him to go under and around eating rock slate for horsefield tortoise housing
  • Rocks to crawl on top of
  • Be sure to make a under passage where the tortoise can go under either with a propped up rock or log and sure it is sturdy

Although we are limited on live plants we should still put some plants and shrubs in his environment.

Again, we want to make sure anything we put into his housing is sanitary and not contaminated including rocks, logs, and plants. Even though it would make sense to look in your yard for a flat rock that probably wouldn’t be the best idea. Animal dropping, pesticides and tons of other contaminants could possibly be on that rock. Even though the rock in your yard is free I recommend buying one (and all other materials) from a store. If you do choose to find your own in nature be cautious and wash off the materials.