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Advice wanted for indoor enclosure
Posted: 25/04/2010 by kirsty


I am looking to buy/rehome my first ever tortoise, there have been tort's in both mine and my partners families when we were children but neither of us have any real first hand experience, only memories of our grandparents having "garden" tort's!

I have made a trip to my local reptile centre, been given lots of advice but am a bit skeptical at how good it is.  The owner would have been quite happy to sell me (today) two horsefields in a 4ft viv with a UV strip light and a basking lamp, substrate (which looked like soil with bits of bark in it), a hide and a water dish for the bargain price of 350.  I have been doing some research on the web and was sensible enough not to take up this offer.  Here are my questions:

1.  Would it be suitable to house tort's in an indoor guinea pig/rabbit cage which has plastic coated wire? I have seen pictures of this on some of your set ups but couldn't tell whether the wire was plastic coated or not (wasn't sure whether it would melt in the heat of the lamps etc.) and also the cage I already have (which is 3ft long) has a plastic base, would that melt? I'm not sure how hot the bulb and lamp would get!

2.  Are horsefields the best type of tort for me to keep? I don't want a huge tort when they grow (the ones I was being sold are 1yr old), just something of "average" size.  I have also been recommended a hermanns

3.  Is it advisable to keep two tort's or is 1 ok on its own? In the past I have owned other animals that were advisable to be kept in a pair (I did A LOT of research before I purchased them) and ended up having to separate them as they would have killed each other through fighting.  Whilst I have a lot of space in my house and garden I don't think I would have the space to keep two tort's living separately in good sized accommodation if they were to fight and I can't afford to buy two adult tort's Click and drag me down to the editor teacher's don't get paid THAT much!

4.  The reptile shop told me that you don't have to hibernate your tort's and that they can be awake year round if you keep them in the right climate.  I know that they can't hibernate until they are 4 or 5 years old but is this correct? She told me many tort's die in hibernation and it's a risky business.  I have read elsewhere the correct procedure for cooling down and hibernating a tort, including not feeding them so there is no food residue in their system before they hibernate.

It would be fantastic if someone could give me advice on these questions, I don't want to rush into buying a tort/tort's and get it wrong.  I apologise for this being such a long first post but I don't want to make any mistakes before I get my tort/tort's

Thank you


Re: Advice wanted for indoor enclosure
Posted: 26/04/2010 by TPGDarren

Hi Kirsty,

Will answer as best I can:-)

1) Is this the sort of cage you are looking for?:-

These are fine for smaller tortoises and are easy to clean. If the cage is high enough, the bulb isn't too high a wattage and the lamp holder isn't too deep - you may be able to hang the lamp inside the cage which will save the problem of the plastic overheating. 


2) Horsfields are a great little tortoise and are lively even when the weather is cooler. They are not a tortoise you can let roam free in the garden when bigger as they tend to not only dig, but tunnel also and can be very difficult to find. Horsfield enclosures need to be well dug in to prevent them from digging under the edges. Personally I like Iberas (which we keep here - so a bit biased), Hermanns and Marginated tortoises. All of these require exactly the same husbandry and personally I think either are equally a good choice.

Photos of each can be found on the caresheets:-




3) Another teacher looking to keep tortoises:-) - it's surprising how many people in the education system keep tortoises:-)

I would be inclined to get a pair. They do tend to live in close proximaty within one another in the wild. It also gives them a sense of security. Many will tell you they always try and climb in a pot together at night-time. Many animals do this to give them a better chance if a predator happens by - they feel more secure. If you get them from a reputable breeder, many incubate for females (the incubation temperature determines the sex of the tortoise - can't be 100% though). There is less likelihood of two females not getting along

There is a list of reputable breeders (hobbyists) here:-

4) The best thing to do is to completely ignore what any pet/reptile shop has told you. Undoubtedly the biggest threats to a tortoises long-life in the UK is overfeeding, incorrect lighting and the wrong diet (including tortoise pelletes sold by most pet shops). In the wild tortoises hibernate from the very first year, though fatalities are highest in the youngest and the oldest. Most people in the UK tend to hibernate when a tortoise is around 30 - 35grams. By this time they have matured. The TPG recommend fridge hibernation due to offering the most stable temperature:-


Please ask as many questions as you feel necessary

Kindest Regards



Re: Advice wanted for indoor enclosure
Posted: 05/06/2010 by Bushby

Kirsty, hope you done mine me asking Darren, what age are they classed as mature?


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