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Basic care information
Posted: 30/01/2013 by Cath!1

I am very keen to get a tortoise but would like to be properly prepared for the commitment. Could anyone recommend a reliable source of information which covers all areas of tortoise husbandry. Thank you.

Re: Basic care information
Posted: 30/01/2013 by TPGDarren

Hiya,Click and drag me down to the editor


The best three species to keep in the UK are Spur-Thighed Tortoises, Hermanns or Marginated Tortoises:-

Care sheets (Spur-Thighed Tortoise (Ibera)   (Hermanns) (Marginated)


One rule of thumb when purchasing a tortoise set-up is that most of the Complete Tortoise set-ups sold by many dealers and pet shops often contain items that are inferior and inappropriate. - usually inferior lamps, unsuitable dried food, unsuitable bedding etc, so we would recommend all items are purchased separately. It may take a little more time….but worthwhile in the long-run

It is worth looking at getting the below lamp (Many so-called reptile specialists sell products that are far inferior to the below lamps and only slightly cheaper. A good lamp is critical for good tortoise growth.


Equipment you will need:-


Indoor Enclosures/Tortoise Table

Either a small rabbit/guinea pig enclosure (best to get the larger one 1.2 meters) or a commercial (or home-made) tortoise table can be used. Tortoise Tables can easily be constructed with 4 lengths of wood and a base for very little money, probably as little as £10-£15

Despite what pet shops promote, vivariums aren't suitable for tortoises. Tortoises require a warm basking area - but also cooler areas in order to thermo-regulate (cool down) and to manage their well being properly. Vivariums offer an almost one temperature, which is totally unsuitable for tortoises.




A combined heat/UVB bulb is recommended. One of the best on the market, both for the long-lasting quality of the UVB and they do not blow as frequently as other lamps:-


Lamp Holder (for use with above lamp):-

Despite they are supplied with a clamp – the light should be suspended from directly above the tortoise. If it’s fitted to the side of the enclosure it can shine directly into the tortoises’ eyes and damage them………….yours too.



Lamp Stand

These actually look quite nice and are very handy.



A bag of topsoil or topsoil/playsand mix

You can purchase a bag of this from any garden centre for a few pounds– I find the Homebase topsoil is fine. Many reptile stores, pet shops and dealers sell expensive substrate, none of which are as good as soil and many do not provide a good habitat for a tortoise at all.


Water Dish – best NOT to get an expensive dish from a reptile store – a plant pot tray will suffice as they are shallow and are easy to climb in and out of (the shallowest available is best) – these can usually be purchased for less than £1


Broken stones or slate to go under the lamp so the tortoise can right itself if it turns over





(Nutrobal) & a Cuttlefish




Re: Basic care information
Posted: 30/01/2013 by TPGDarren

And of course - please make sure you get any tortoise from a genuine UK Breeder.

You are far more likely to get a healthy tortoise and good advice.

Most pet shops and those that send tortoises out via couriers are merely middlemen dealers. The tortoise they supply neatly always imported and are of dubvious origin.

They are usually mixed with 100's of other tortoises at some point during etheir long journey, which makes them vulnerable to cross-infection from diseases or parasitic contamination.

Here is a list of genuine UK Breeders:-

and a selection of some of the tortoises that some of them have for sale:-




Re: Basic care information
Posted: 30/01/2013 by Cath!1

Hi Darren
Thank you so much I will have a good read and make plan. Thank you for all the money saving tips too. I spent quite awhile on this website nd still missed the care sheets so thank you.

The only other thing I wanted to ask is how do tortoises cope when their owners move house. We will be moving soon. We will also probably have to go and live abroad again in the next 5 years. My sister is a vet, is very settled in her home and has agreed to look after the tortoise for the duration of our time away. But this will mean the tortoise adapting to a new environment for a 2 year period.

Any advice before we make a decision would be great.
Thanks again for your time and help

Re: Basic care information
Posted: 30/01/2013 by TPGDarren

You're very welcome:-)

They do become very accustomed to their own space, but I am sure that any new addition will cope just fine:-)




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