Advanced search

Does anyone have a tortoise?

(46 Posts)
takemetoabeach Tue 02-Apr-19 10:02:00

I'm really really tempted to take the plunge and bring a tortoise into our family. I think they are adorable and my son has also been begging for one. He's a real animal lover.

Does anyone have them? Are they as lovely as they seem? I've done quite a bit of research and it seems manageable and we have the space for a good house for him.

Which breed makes the best pets?

Any general tips?

Orchardgreen Tue 02-Apr-19 10:11:21

I have three. All Mediterranean species but different.
Iberas are very aggressive, males and females both. They don’t care which sex they are bashing or trying to bite, and males will also bash your feet in the garden. My male has to live by himself.
Hermanns are more gentle.
I have a very old Moroccan who is lovely. There are lots available for rehoming, try the Tortoise Protection Group.

You need to be careful of foxes, also magpies when they are small.

They will need a heated outdoor home for cooler Spring and autumn weather.

Orchardgreen Tue 02-Apr-19 10:12:27

Forgot to say they all have different personalities and I love them.
Also yourgarden will need to be escape proof.

takemetoabeach Tue 02-Apr-19 10:18:55

Garden is escape proof. I wouldn't leave him out there unsupervised. I thought he would mainly live in the house, and use outside just for this wrong?

Do all yours hibernate? I think that's the scary part.

CMOTDibbler Tue 02-Apr-19 10:21:30

My friend has a very, very elderly tortoise (thought to be around 120) who has an amazing personality. He has outlived two owners, and when she inherited him she was very scared of the responsibility and got specialist advice. He's asleep in his own fridge at the moment as the constant temperature is best for hibernation, then he'll move to his heated house with a specially planted garden. She did have to make the segregated garden as one of the dogs kept wanting to bury him...

Rufusthebewilderedreindeer Tue 02-Apr-19 10:22:41

They are lovely but i find mine much more hard work than it appeare

Spring and autumn are a pain

Summer when he is throwing himself round the garden is fun and winter when he is sleeping grin

He stresses me out when he wakes up as he refuses to eat!!

Wouldnt swap him and i was looking at some babies the other day....must resist!!!

Rufusthebewilderedreindeer Tue 02-Apr-19 10:24:23

I ought to look at a heated out door house...what do you do orchard

Nesssie Tue 02-Apr-19 10:27:19

They can live for 100 years. What are you going to do with it when your son moves out? When you get old?

They aren't playful. They don't like being picked up, they don't care about being stroked. Your son will get bored.

They hibernate in the winter. Do you have a suitable set up for that? Do you want a pet you won't see for 5 months?

They need space. Indoor sets ups are usually too small.

One of mine has a badly scarred shell from where he was placed directly onto a heat mat and below a heat lamp.
Another has a curved shell from where the enclosure was too small and she basically had to curl round constantly as she moved.

IMO, a tortoise is not a suitable pet.

Rufusthebewilderedreindeer Tue 02-Apr-19 10:30:30

They can live for 100 years

Exactly why I wouldn't buy a new one

We adopted Freddie

takemetoabeach Tue 02-Apr-19 10:30:47

I have to admit that the life span does worry me. But I know my son and I know he won't get bored, some kids are good at looking after animals...although I'm not sure I would want him to take him with him when he left home!!

The other things are the reason I asked, so I can research properly.

Orchardgreen Tue 02-Apr-19 11:32:27

I have a wooden tool shed, 4x2 feet. Insulated with Celotex then covered with plywood. I made a little ramp which can be closed. Inside there is a tubular heater which I use during hibernation, with a thermostat, set to drop no lower than 6c. I also have a heat lamp for really chilly days in Spring and Autumn.

Orchardgreen Tue 02-Apr-19 11:35:38

Agree with Rufus, Spring and autumn can be a worry. I’ve done hibernation now for twelve years and I’m more confident now.
I think a mature, adult tortoise is less stress than a tiny.

Orchardgreen Tue 02-Apr-19 11:36:27

Forgot to say, a greenhouse is useful if you have one.

Orchardgreen Tue 02-Apr-19 13:21:36

Sorry, OP, I missed about you thinking it would mainly live inside.
They should be outside with appropriate housing for miserable weather. Today, in the south east, mine are hiding in the cold frame.

They don’t like living in a house, they are wild animals.

But every garden needs a tortoise!

mrsjoyfulprizeforraffiawork Tue 02-Apr-19 14:17:36

Be sure you really want one - ours was an unwanted 10th birthday present for my sister from one of our friends. He then lived another 45 years with us! Also consider what you will do when you go away on holiday. Ideally, your tortoise would need checking that he was safe in his house at night (safe from predators) and that he hadn't fallen over and unable to right himself during the day, so you'd need a good relative/neighbour checking him every day and feeding him or find a tortoise holiday boarding person (I used to use a fantastic lady near Sevenoaks who had hundreds of tortoises). He probably had a miserable time for some years because at first he lived loose in the garden but kept getting out (they are like Houdini and also, a friend witnessed another one scaling a 10 foot wall so don't assume your garden is escape proof). Because we couldn't escape-proof our garden our parents built a small pen to keep him in which must have been so boring. We also (in our ignorance) fed him lettuce. It was years before I discovered lettuce is VERY BAD for tortoises (can cause tumours/stomach problems) and the best food is wild greens that they forage in gardens - i.e. dandelion greens, buttercup flowers, etc. Ours also liked apricots. He finished his life with a few years in a quarter of another garden which was a bit of a wild garden and he just put himself to bed in his cave/house each evening. However, I did always have to check he was safe in bed and check sometimes during the day in case he had fallen on his back. We went to the vet once for a check-up and they wormed him so that is probably a useful regular thing to do. We used to put him in a box of leaves within a box of newspaper, covered with a cloth in a dry garden shed to hibernate. It is probably good to have a proper heat lamp to help them in case they wake too early or can't hibernate the whole winter because they've not fed up enough. You would need to read all this up. Mine came out of hibernation early in early hot spell then weather changed and he hadn't yet put on weight. Unfortunately, at his advanced age, this proved fatal. I was actually really sad and found I had grown very fond of him despite his surly nature and tendency to be grumpy and hiss. Sometimes, he was a little more mellow and would sunbathe near me or eat from my hand but he was a solitary character. They don't emote much.

mrsjoyfulprizeforraffiawork Tue 02-Apr-19 14:19:15

We did think he might outlive us and we'd have to will him to someone.

Rufusthebewilderedreindeer Tue 02-Apr-19 14:46:12



We have been hibernating Freddie for 19 years now...gosh that feel like a long time

For the first 50 plus years of his life he lived in a flat and ate cooked peas!!!

He does wander round the house when its spring and autumn as he hates his be fair to him it is small but he is rarely in it as he gets so pissed off!!

He does have a house in the garden but ill look into a tubular heater , your torties house looks great 🐢

Rufusthebewilderedreindeer Tue 02-Apr-19 14:47:28

We have a heat lamp

Sodding tortoise doesn't stay under it

Rufusthebewilderedreindeer Tue 02-Apr-19 14:50:08


Look for the tortoise society information

We have a charity near us which rehomes so it might be an option for you

Freddie cracks me up but he is hard work

And i reckon he is in his early 70's so ive still potentially got 25 plus years

We did adopt (for three days) a tortoise in his 90's!

ScreamingValenta Tue 02-Apr-19 14:53:29

My sister has one and takes a lot of trouble to stay up to date with current tortoise care thinking. She hibernates hers in a fridge - apparently that's the safest thing to do. You have to fast them first to make sure there's no food rotting away in their stomachs. She has a heat lamp for in-between times and a house in her garden that's like a tiny greenhouse for him.

takemetoabeach Tue 02-Apr-19 17:56:36

I have done lots of research. It's great to hear what you all think...keep it coming!

I'm loving the ideas for outdoor housing. Will definitely research that more.

I've read that you can get breeds that don't hibernate? I know that sounds like a cop out but would that be easier?

Will def look into rescues. Sounds like a positive on all fronts!

Smotheroffive Tue 02-Apr-19 17:59:39

Please don't make UK gardens escape proof because in doing so you contribute to the extinction of hedgehogs who need to roam through gardens to survive

Smotheroffive Tue 02-Apr-19 18:00:48

Make your tortoise imports their own closed space without limitiing our own native animals

Rufusthebewilderedreindeer Tue 02-Apr-19 18:01:23

Fridge hibernation is best

Its nothing to be scared just get tense if you think they might be dead....and we pop freddie in a box in the shed

If we fridged him we would probably be more confident

ScreamingValenta Tue 02-Apr-19 19:40:25

I don't know how old he was when we got him, but my sister's tortoise has been in our family for 40 years!

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »