Please DO NOT purchase a tortoises from:-
When thinking of buying a tortoise we recommend you take time to research its specific requirements first. Please beware most pet shops, tortoise centres and tortoise shops invariably offer poor, but profitable, advice. Owning a tortoise should be a lifetime commitment, and a lot of thought should be given to both the tortoise's immediate and long-term needs. Please always contact a Reputable UK Breeder if you are looking to purchase a Tortoise for good advice and healthy tortoises. We have compiled a list of genuine UK Breeders with Tortoises For Sale in Kent to Dorset to Scotland.We have two specific forums that can help you with your research. Our Website Forum and our Facebook forum, both of which are frequented by both experienced and new keepers.
All of our recommended breeders we have listed have been verified by us. The three species we recommend as most suitable for the UK are:-
Spur-Thighed Tortoise - Ibera (testudo graeca)
Hermanns Tortoises (testudo hermanni) &
Marginated Tortoises (testudo marginata)
ALL OF THESE SHOULD BE ACCOMPANIED BY A VALID ARTICLE 10 CERTIFICATE AT THE POINT OF SALE
All of these are listed on Annex A of EC Regulation 338/97 and require a valid certificate under Article 10 of that Regulation for any commercial use or transaction, which includes purchase, offering for sale, advertising for sale, actual sale, barter or exchange.
It is an offence under Regulation 8(1) of the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997 to sell or use for any commercial purpose an Annex A species without the relevant valid Article 10 certificate. The legislation is formatted in such a way as to make the commercial transaction of a sale without a valid certificate specifically a two ended offence. In other words, both vendor and purchaser commit an offence.
Care Sheets for these three species can be found can be found in our menu on the left or by clicking on the above care sheets links.
We strongly recommend you steer clear of Sulcata Tortoises, Leopards, Red-foots and other large non-hibernating and tropical species as they tend to have special requirements that are difficult to achieve in the UK.
In the UK we are experiencing a glut of "cheap" imported farmed and wild-caught Horsfield Tortoises, a high number of these have been reported to us with health problems.
If you are tempted to buy from a pet shop, garden centre, or over the internet, then you stand a very good chance of purchasing a tortoise that will subsequently suffer from illness and could cost considerable sums in veterinary fees. Tortoises are often very slow to exhibit signs of illness (which makes the time-based refund offered by commercial sellers of little worth), and it is not easy to judge the health of a tortoise from initial observations. However, listed below are a number of signs that you should look for in any tortoise you purchase. Although they are no guarantee of good health, they are a strong indication that the tortoise is healthy.
Listed below are some points to look for to ensure that, as far as is possible to tell, you are buying a healthy tortoise.
1) The eyes are usually black and should be open, clear and bright.
2) The nose should be dry, there should be no signs of bubbling or wheezing or breathing through the mouth.
3) Check the mouth and if it opens, the tongue should be a healthy pink and no signs of bubbling. The beak should fit snugly, with the upper beak just covering the lower beak.
4) The shell should be firm, after the tortoise is a month old, it should not feel soft or spongy, yet the plastron can still have a little spring to it during the first year. The plastron area should not be pink in colour.
5) There shouldn’t be any cracks or other damage on the shell.
6) There shouldn’t be any wounds or hard lumps on the legs or neck and head, especially around the ear area.
7) The tail area should be clean. If faeces has been passed it should not be loose and runny. Worms should not be present.
8) Make sure the tortoise is active when in a warm environment.
9) The tortoise should walk with its plastron (underneath shell) clear of the ground using strong legs. The hind legs shouldn’t be dragged behind it on the floor. The tortoise should walk forward and not around in circles.
10) The tortoise should be accompanied by the correct documentation and if the tortoise which is being purchased is microchipped then it is advisable to have the tortoise scanned by a vet to ensure the microchip details supplied with the tortoise, match the tortoise.
This is Lesley's story when she bought her two tortoises from a retail outlet.
In February I purchased two Hermann’s tortoises from a Reptile Centre close to my home as a birthday present to me.
The chap I spoke to on my visit was very helpful and seemed knowledgeable on all things tortoise. I came away with a “package” which included a double sliding glass door vivarium 3ft long, a bag of alfalfa pellets for substrate, a UV tube with fitting, ceramic heat lamp with plastic cage, separate basking lamp, thermostat, thermometer, food and water dishes, bark tunnel and a tub of Nutrobal supplement. The advice given with regard to diet was to feed spring greens or pointed cabbage and was shown a very large tortoise eating exactly that on the floor of the shop. I returned home with great excitement to set up the vivarium.
My retentive memory is sadly lacking these days so on returning to collect the tortoises and their certificates some hours later I took a notebook with me. It reads:
Temperature: 90degrees 24/7
Heat lamp: on 24/7 – change lamp annually
Basking bulb: 12 hours a day - change annually
UV lamp: on 12 hours a day – change annually
Diet: spring greens/pointed cabbage
At 10cm shell length – microchip by vet + adult certificate request.
I was thrilled to have the tortoises and really looking forward to taking care of and getting to know the “boys” (or girls?) and in the absence of any other information at that time, quite content that the advice given had been appropriate. Gosh, how wrong could I have been?
I am a bit of an anorak where animals and record keeping are concerned – the eggs from my hens are weighed, dated and named every day! So I set about weighing and measuring S&G and their health records were started.
Observation would be key to their well-being and after just 24/48 hours I knew something wasn’t right, the inside of the vivarium was just so hot, they were both lethargic and very sleepy. I think you can probably guess the rest!
I did a Google search and came up with the Tortoise Protection Group and emailed Elaine immediately with my concerns. My horror at learning that the “expert” advice given was so wrong haunts me. Several emails bounced back and forth with helpful suggestions.
Elaine has been hugely supportive of my efforts to rectify everything to do with S&Gs care.
The vivarium now resides in my greenhouse and will be used as a propagator!
S&G moved in to their new home yesterday.
My ignorance and lack of knowledge could have had a lasting and detrimental effect on my two torties. Thankfully my gut feeling about tortoise husbandry given originally was incorrect. My advice having learned my lesson the hard way, choose your “expert” wisely, research thoroughly and go to the people who really know about tortoise care.
Thank you Tortoise Protection Group for being there when I needed you.