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Which species?
Posted: 19/04/2013 by Claire07780


I have always loved tortoises and have recently moved to a house with a secure garden and plenty of quiet indoor space (no other pets). I have been reading up on tortoise care for months now but find there to be so much conflicting advice. I think the best place to start would be decide on a species so my research can be more specific? Which do people think would be the most suitable for a first time owner and for the UK climate? And do tortoises like company, should I be rehoming a pair or just one?


Re: Which species?
Posted: 19/04/2013 by TPGDarren

Hi Claire ,Click and drag me down to the editor


Tortoises don’t interact very much with one another. Having said that, it is a picture to see a tortoise’s reaction to another having spent decades alone as we have seen here. Certainly for young tortoises they do benefit from being with another when it comes to bedding down at night. You can have 20 hides and 20 tortoises, but guarantee they will all try and bed down together in one hide. They do feel a certain amount of security from predators when bedding down at night (a self-preservation thing in the hope that another will be taken instead).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:-


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: Which species?
Posted: 22/04/2013 by Claire07780

Thank you, I will start researching further now and start growing tortoise friendly plants in my garden. I am aiming to be tortoise ready by the end of July :-)


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