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Tortoise - easy / hard pet? Quick advice please :)

(15 Posts)
NiceTabard Fri 17-May-13 21:36:03

Hi there

Our children are obsessed with turtles / tortoises.

I am toying with the idea of getting a tortoise for the family.
We have no other pets.
I have little idea how much work a tortoise is - we had one when I was little but all I remember is it wandered around in the garden and I was encouraged to feed it bits of cucumber - but that's it.
We really don't need anything which will be high maintenance - we both work full time and the kids are small (4 and 6).

Any advice? Just looking for good idea / terrible idea really!

TIA smile

HDEE Fri 17-May-13 21:39:24

Terrible idea, they are harder work than you think.

They need an indoor tank with bedding that you'd need to clean every day, they need UV lights, they need vitamin powder sprinkled on their food.

In hot weather they are fine outside, but would need a secure pen as some breeds a prolific diggers, and a house to shelter from sun.

NiceTabard Fri 17-May-13 21:43:18


That was a great response! Just the sort of thing I need to hear smile

Maybe another soft toy one then, to add to the 1500 or so we already have hmm

colleysmill Fri 17-May-13 22:02:03

I love mine but my first advice is check out where your local reptile/tortoise vet is in relation to you. When tortoises get sick (which isn't that often in fairness) they can't always be catered for by a generalist vet but being a reptile they can go down hill very rapidly.

I'm no expert by any means but I've read a lot over the years and I have travelled miles with sick torts over the years to get to a tortoise vet. No offence meant to any vets on here but certainly my local vet will take my opinion and word in an emergency (especially after one gave my leopard tort antibiotics that leopards are allergic too)

Know your breed is my next advice - some torts that are readily available to buy on line and in pet shops grow very big and need specialist care (easily learnt but you need to know in the first place!) - as a first tort Hermanns, spur thigh and horsefield would be my choice.

Love my leopard but she's big and only young. I fostered a Redfoot once too and I would think twice about taking another in. Sulcatas - well that's a huge commitment!

NiceTabard Fri 17-May-13 22:10:10

Wow you really do come across as loving your tortoises!

On the vet front, we live in london so imagine there would be suitable vets available within a reasonable distance.

Do you think they are a lot of work though?
I must admit that the first post of "terrible idea" is holding sway at the moment!

lurcherlover Fri 17-May-13 22:19:41

I would be put off by the lifespan - the ones in pet shops are juveniles and they can live to be a hundred. You'd be leaving it to your grandchildren!

NiceTabard Fri 17-May-13 22:25:01

grin the one we had when I was a child had been my dad's childhood pet and I think his dad's before that!

Maybe I should ask my parents... Although I suspect in the 70s it was all a bit random.

colleysmill Fri 17-May-13 22:26:03

Well not hard work in that you don't have to walk them every day but you need to know what youre doing!

When I got my first tort the was brilliant for advice. They have loads of downloadable info sheets and an advice forum which I still lurk.

Set up costs are around 200-250 quid (including cost of animal) but you need indoor and outdoor space. You will need a lamp (i use combination uv and heat bulbs) so they can keep warm and allow them to metabolise their diet.

Diet wise I grow weeds in the garden for mine and use shop bought stuff in the colder months. Torts need a calcium supplement to keep their shells strong - I use limestone power and a cuttlefish.

LittleBells Fri 17-May-13 22:42:27

I think they're lovely but I wouldn't want the commitment of one, as I think they do require specialist knowledge and care, as do most reptiles.

Cats are not too high maintenance. Cats are either out in the garden all day (summer) or asleep inside all day (winter). They don't take up much room, they mind their own business, they are independent, don't need walking and aren't messy. pretty cool really! Most 4 and 6yo love cats too.

chickydoo Fri 17-May-13 22:47:01

Had my tortoise for 7 years.
He's not too big, & no trouble at all.
He has an indoor vivarium with a uv light & a heater. He has a small section in the vivarium that we have built a little wooden box into, & he tends to snooze in there.
We have a large run in the garden for him, we only put him out in warm weather, or at least when the sun is shining a bit.
We don't give him free reign indoors to wander, as we have other pets that are a bit too interested in him. (We shut him in the bathroom if we are going to be out all day, so he can wander about safely.
He eats fresh veg every day. His diet is varied, strawberries, watercress, cucumber, iceberg for it's water content only. Grapes and dandelions are the favourites at the moment.
He has occasion calcium powder, although he seems to avoid any food we sprinkle it on. Cuttle fish is a good option though.
Good luck with your tortoise, hope it goes well.

NiceTabard Fri 17-May-13 23:57:33

Littlebells I would love a cat but with us all out of the house so much + we can't have a cat flap I don't think it's fair on the cat. When I retire I will be covered in them grin

chickydoo that doesn't sound too onerous. And your tortoise has a much better diet than us blush Do they need company though (is that a stupid question)

lazydog Sat 18-May-13 02:02:15

Hi Nicetabard, Sorry, I don't have time to do a proper reply right now but you'll get all the basic info you need from here:

Also (lazy, sorry!) maybe have a read of my replies on this old thread as I think it's all relevant:


Lonecatwithkitten Sat 18-May-13 09:56:32

They make excellent pets to very committed owners who are prepared to do their research and keep on top of the environment. Having just witnessed an unmitigated disaster where a tortoise was purchased for an eight year old and very poor advice was given at purchase on environment and feeding.
On admission to the clinic our questions start with
Do you have a vivarium? - No a rabbit hutch
Do you have a UV light? - Yes
Do you have a thermometer in the hutch? - Yes
What temperature has the hutch been at? - No idea
and downhill from this.
When they are in the clinic we use maximum and minimum thermometers and keep records of environment temperatures every 8 hours.
Sadly due to failure to maintain really basic environment this little tortoise died as he had been allowed to hibernate when he was too small his body reserves of energy were too low and he was too dehydrated for use to save him.

LittleBells Sat 18-May-13 16:54:23

NiceTabard we don't have a cat flap either! never have done, not when I was growing up, not as an adult. Ne'er a cat flap has ever graced our door. grin

Cats don't need cat flaps. They also don't need company in the day. They are extremely lazy and sleepsleepsleep for hours and hours on end. Usually on a bed/in a basket/on top of the neighbour's car/garden chair. Cats are amazing at finding the comfiest and warmest spot. They are also extremely hardy. My cats often love being outside even on rainy nights. It's different to a dog. Dogs do need company and entertaining unless they are very old and tired.

Most cats don't like being overly petted. What they like is a comfy place to sleep, feeding and an occasional scratch behind the ears/to sit peacefully next to you on the sofa. They love peace and quiet. Being left on their own all day to sleep is heavenly for a cat! Kittens need more looking after for the first 6-12 months, but adult cats? They would turn their noses up if you try to over fuss them. smile

There are thousands of cats who would love a new home. Do consider it! They really don't require much at all.

NiceTabard Sat 18-May-13 19:53:40

Ah yes but there is NO WAY I am having a litter tray, littlebells!

lazydog and lonecat -thank you!

I think I' going to shelve the whole pet issues again for another year or 2. Realistically it's just not the right time.

Thanks so much everyone smile

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