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Help needed for beginer
Posted: 01/09/2009 by tdonnelly3

hi, totally new to tortoises, loved the little guys (and girls) for years, now decided that i want to get one, have a few questions for the experts around here


what tort would be best for a beginer, i like the look of the hermanns but my girlfriend loves the indian star, which would be best and can they be kept in pairs? can you have 2 males, 2 females or 1 of each? if you have one of each, how long before they mate?

i have looked through the pics in the gallery here, are the rabbit cages good for them to live in? or is there a better way for them to live? the local reptile centre has one living in a big wooden table type thing, looks kind of like a rabbit hutch but with the grill on top not the front


any tips for a beginner would be fantastic



Re: Help needed for beginer
Posted: 02/09/2009 by shark

a rabbit cage would be ok but a torotise table is great for there use i have two spur thighed tortoise there my first and herman will be ok for first

Re: Help needed for beginer
Posted: 02/09/2009 by TPGDarren

Hi & Click and drag me down to the editor


The first thing to decide is what species you would like to keep. Indian Stars are not really a good tortoise to keep for a beginner. Personally I'd recommend Iberas, Hermanns, Marginateds or Horsfields (the only problem with Horsfields is they do tend to dig further down than the other species- though they are the more hardy of all these species). All tortoises, no matter what species will require additional heating, UVB and space to roam. All these recommended species are hibernating species.

You may wish to look through care sheets first for photos of the different species:-

There is a list of recommended breeders here:

I would strongly recommend you don't purchase from a pet shop. The tortoises sold in pet shops are invariably imported and there is a much higher chance of inheriting a problem.

Ideas for enclosures:-
Vivariums, despite what pet shops promote are completely unsuitable for tortoises. They do not enable a range of temperatures tortoises require to maintain their immune system and well-being.



If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to post them on here.


Best Regards



Re: Help needed for beginer
Posted: 02/09/2009 by tpgarlene

Hi there

Welcome to the forum, you will find lots of really good information and advice here from people happy to help, and also on the website.

Indian Star tortoises are beautiful, but they are really not for the beginner, I would recommend one of the Mediterannean tortoises, the type that people sometimes refer to as 'garden tortoises' - ie hermanns, ibera, graeca, marginated, or russian tortoises.  All of these tortoises do very well in our climate as long as they have some extra heat and basking facilities in the cooler months, and they all hibernate.  Tropical tortoises tend to be more sensitive, often grow larger, and require heated accommodation all year round.

For young tortoises, rabbit cages work well - they need an open topped enclosure as opposed to a vivarium set up to allow ventilation and the heat to escape.  You can have a pair of tortoises, the golden rule is to always allow them plenty of space and areas to escape to.  2 males can fight, so you may need to be prepared to give them extra space or to separate them, and a male can harass a single female, so same advice applies.  Mating activity can occur in quite young male tortoises.

I hope this helps, if you havnt found them already, there are care sheets in the section The Tortoise written for the more commonly kept tortoises, and if you have any other questions, we are always happy to help

all the best

Arlene TPG

Re: Help needed for beginer
Posted: 05/09/2009 by Laraine

Hi, you have been given excellent advice by very well respected keepers. I keep Indian Stars, 1 is a rehomer and 2 I bought from someone who could no longer give them the attention and care they need, and have suffered from intermittent RNS while they were with their previous owner. My other one I have had from a tiny hatchling.

I can confirm they are not an easy tortoise and can suffer from even the slightest lack of care. The older rehomer was riddled with large worms, some more than 6 inches long, and her gut contained lots of tiny gravel stones, her shell shows sign of rapid growth due to an incorrect diet. The other 2 had suffered from dehydration in the past and for a long time passed gritty urates. Then the smaller of the two passed a HUGE bladder stone that had been lurking inside her until she had been able to pass it. They still have the ocassional bout of RNS, thankfully this is less frequent.

You have to be really careful with their temps and humidity and ensure no incorrect foods and you need to ensure they have plenty of hydration. Personally I think the Indian star is the least forgiving of all the tortoises being bred and sold in this country. If you can get the environment 100% spot on, they are a dream to keep, get it wrong and its the poor tortoise that will suffer.

For a first tortoise that is not too difficult to care for and that can go out in protected enclosures outside in the garden when not in their tortoise table, any of the med species, and the Horsfield, but avoid the North African (Tunisian, Morrocan, Egyptian) ones as some of these can also be on the delicate side.

Good luck with your choice


Re: Help needed for beginer
Posted: 05/09/2009 by tpgAli


If you are considering getting a tortoise then you really need to read up and decide the species that is best for you. Hermanns are Indian Stars are two completely different species with different needs, Hermanns are a temperate species therefore they hibernate whereas Indian Stars are a tropical species and do not hibernate. Please take time to read up on our care sheets, you may even want to consider doing a course in tortoise husbandry, the Tortoise trust are currently running an online course which i myself completed some years back and found most interesting and knowledgable. Here is the website

Good luck with whatever you decide.




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