So…You Want a Pet Tortoise?

There are some species of tortoise that grow to a large size, making them difficult to keep as pets. The most popular pet species of tortoise is the Russian tortoise because it stays small in size. Males grow to be five to eight inches in diameter, while females grow in size from six to ten inches. They also tolerate a wide range of enclosures, although they do not prefer them. This pet is notorious for digging, climbing, or clawing its way out of an enclosure, if at all possible. Owners have to be sure there is no way to escape.

These creatures are naturally active and require a lot of room to move, explore, and wander around in. They also love to be outside. If there is room in the yard for an outside enclosure, create one for the tortoise to dwell. It will need a shallow bowl of water, places to hide when the weather gets too hot, and netting over the top to keep the pets in, and predators out. If the pet will be living inside, time outside will be crucial.

While the tortoise is outside, there are a few things to consider. Heat can be a problem if the weather is extreme. Provide a shady spot for the pet while outside. Dehydration can occur quickly, so no matter how long the tortoise will be outdoors, always provide a source of water for drinking or soaking. Predators are another factor when outside. If there is no covering on the area, do not leave the tortoise unattended. Large birds, raccoons, rats, cats, wolves, and dogs are a danger to the tortoise. The final thing to watch out for is an attempted escape.

It is important to provide a healthy diet of leafy greens, weeds, and flowers. The tortoise is an herbivore and cannot digest meat of any kind. If the environment gets too hot, there is not enough water, or food is lacking, the tortoise will aestivate. That means it will not move for several days, or even a few weeks. It is naturally trying to conserve energy. Most tortoises will hibernate from October until March in their natural habitat, and many will do so as pets in the right conditions. For more information regarding what a pet tortoise requires, go to to get ideas for creating habitats and learn fun facts about your potential new pet.