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New Tortiise
Posted: 29/03/2013 by KieronR

Hi, we have been thinking of getting a tortoise for some time now (glad I found this site as I was simply looking in pet shops for guidance!) and it looks as though the Hermann is probably the most suited to our climate?

Its partly for us (Family had one in the garden in the 70's) but also for our three children (5,8&9) who all dote on our pets and we feel it is important to teach them to care for others etc.

We have a dog (docile 12 yr old lab but warnings noted allthe same) as well as a cat, 3 rabbits (plus new litter from one!) as well as a guinea pig...

Intending on building a large covered (with wire) enclosure with house for the tortoise in the garden (will this be enough or will they need some sort of heating lamp if outside?) and wasn't sure how big to make it - is it best to make for a juvenile now then increase it as they grow or can I make one suitable for an adult? and do they get in with guinea pigs ie could they share the run?

Sorry loads of questions but just want to start in the right way


Re: New Tortiise
Posted: 29/03/2013 by TPGDarren

Hi Kieron,

,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)


Here’s a list of genuine UK Breeders:-

Please don’t purchase from a pet shop, garden centre or from anyone who uses a courier (many of these try and give the impression they are the actual breeders – but they are not even if they may breed a small quantity). We know of a few occasions where they have arrived dead, and that is just the ones we know about:-). The advice they give and equipment they sell is often poor and inferior and there is a much higher chance of a tortoise bought from a dealer having health problems due to them being kept in their 100’s aiding the chance of cross-infection of diseases and parasitic contamination. You are much more likely to receive the good advice from someone who actually keeps tortoises rather than a dealer.


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




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