Hopefully a soon-to-be tortoise owner needs advice!

ILoveTorts&Gerbils

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Hi, I've got no idea if I'm doing this right, so I apologise if I'm not.

I'm a mature 14 year-old, whose family is interested in owning their first tortoise (not counting the one my dad had as a child, since knowledge on tortoise has evolved immensely since then!) We live in the UK, and therefore have the unpredictable UK climate!
We really don't have the room for an indoor tortoise table, so we need to know if any tortoises can live happily and healthily outdoors. We've heard that hibernating species such as Hermann's and Horsfields actually do better outdoors when aged over five.

We have a very large garden and were thinking of dedicating our fenced-off orchard area to a tortoise. Would this be suitable?

I should also mention that we own a Border Terrier. He can't get into the orchard, so, with care, could we keep both him and the hypothetical tortoise happy?

I'd also just like to make it clear that I'm a very dedicated pet owner and won't tire of any pet. I pay for all of my pets' expenses myself. However, my dad would also like a tort and would happily care for it if I were unable to.

Thanks so much for your help!
 

Yvonne G

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Hi, and welcome to the Forum!

There are many, many tortoise keepers in the UK. I see no reason why you couldn't have a tortoise. And keeping the dog and tortoise away from each other would be necessary because dogs love to chew tortoises. Read the care sheets that are pinned at the top of most of our species sections and it may help you decide which species is right for you.
 

Gillian M

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A very warm welcome to the forum.

You'll get the help you need here,so don't worry. Please read the "beginners' thread" as well as different care sheets, which are very useful for people who are new to these gorgeous little pets, and good luck.
 

Tidgy's Dad

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ILoveTorts&Gerbils

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Thanks ZEROPILOT, I always do as much research as I can before getting a new pet.
I just finished reading the links; they're very helpful. I wonder if anyone could tell me how they constructed their outdoor enclosures.

Thanks again!
 

ZEROPILOT

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An enclosure in England would need to be different in the winter etc. But one can be made cheaply. I still bang metal fencing pickets into the ground and then attach exterior fencing boards. One can be made cheaply this way and added on to at a later date...
It's about $6 a foot all said and done. with the cost of the screws
 

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kirsty Johnston

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Hi, I've got no idea if I'm doing this right, so I apologise if I'm not.

I'm a mature 14 year-old, whose family is interested in owning their first tortoise (not counting the one my dad had as a child, since knowledge on tortoise has evolved immensely since then!) We live in the UK, and therefore have the unpredictable UK climate!
We really don't have the room for an indoor tortoise table, so we need to know if any tortoises can live happily and healthily outdoors. We've heard that hibernating species such as Hermann's and Horsfields actually do better outdoors when aged over five.

We have a very large garden and were thinking of dedicating our fenced-off orchard area to a tortoise. Would this be suitable?

I should also mention that we own a Border Terrier. He can't get into the orchard, so, with care, could we keep both him and the hypothetical tortoise happy?

I'd also just like to make it clear that I'm a very dedicated pet owner and won't tire of any pet. I pay for all of my pets' expenses myself. However, my dad would also like a tort and would happily care for it if I were unable to.

Thanks so much for your help!
Welcome! It's really good that your doing research before buying :)
I live in the UK as well and keeping your tort outdoors should be fine but like you mentioned you would need to get a tort that hibernates if your going to keep it outdoors all year round, mainly because they wouldn't do well with the British winters (they are so horrible!).
I would also recommend if you are going to keep your tort outside you have contingencies in place such as a well insulated hut that has electricity so you can have a uva uvb and heat bulb on cold rainy days. Torts are cold blooded so it's really important you have these things when the weather is really poorly.

Over the winter I'm going to be working on something similar whilst my tort is hibernating so he can spend all of next year outdoors - I can show you pictures when it's done but may take some time :)

Good luck with everything!
 

Lyn W

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Hi ILT&G welcome to the forum I am in the UK too and have a rescued leopard tort that doesn't hibernate but has his own cosy room for days when he can't go out i.e. all winter and unfortunately most of this summer!
If you go for a hibernating tort baby, check the recommend age at which they can hibernate some people don't let them hibernate first year. All babies will need a decent sized viv or covered table with heat and humidity until they are old enough to live outside and in the UK even outside they will still need a hide with a heat source.
There's lots to learn and this is a great place to do your research and well done you for not rushing out to buy a tort before being fully prepared.

Are you looking for a baby or an older rescue? The BATK can help with rehoming and you may have a tortoise group in your area.
Which area are you in?
 

ILoveTorts&Gerbils

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I'm looking for an older rescue if possible, around the South of England? Sorry, don't want to get too specific - Internet safety and all!
 

Lyn W

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I'm looking for an older rescue if possible, around the South of England? Sorry, don't want to get too specific - Internet safety and all!
That's fine. We have members from all over the place in the UK e.g. JoesMum in Kent.
I only asked because I know Leics has a good tortoise group so if you'd been near there they would have helped you.
The BATK is based in Leamington Spa but deal with whole of UK so it may be worth emailing them. They were recommended to me by the head of small animals section at Longleat.
You will have to make sure you get a species that's ok outside in our climate and as I said their outdoor house is going to need a heat source for any temps below about 70'F I think it would be for most. @JoesMum keeps Joe outside most of the year I think so she would be a good lady to ask for advice. I have tagged her so she will hopefully see your thread.
 

Lyn W

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How long will you be looking after it? I assume the owners will leave instructions for you so just follow those really.
Are you having it at your house or going to theirs to look after it?
If it's being moved to you - most torts don't like change and can be stressed and withdrawn after it so don't handle too much if it seems a little scared.
Don't feed it anything you aren't sure is tort safe (wwwthetortoisetable.org.uk)
Make sure it has clean fresh water daily (they sometimes like to poop and walk through their water so it gets lots of substrate in it)
Make sure they leave their own and their vets no. with you - hopefully won't need it but -just in case!
And you can always ask for help here.
 

ILoveTorts&Gerbils

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We should be having them for a week at our house.

I say "them." I'm a little bit apprehensive, because, from what I've heard, tortoises do best alone. What do I need to look out for to prevent fights?
They also don't know what type of tortoises they are, since a friend gave them to them. I'll probably end up asking all of you for help!
They're outdoor tortoises, used to living in a garden, but I assume we need to remove any fallen apples/pears from our orchard?
 

Lyn W

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We should be having them for a week at our house.

I say "them." I'm a little bit apprehensive, because, from what I've heard, tortoises do best alone. What do I need to look out for to prevent fights?
They also don't know what type of tortoises they are, since a friend gave them to them. I'll probably end up asking all of you for help!
They're outdoor tortoises, used to living in a garden, but I assume we need to remove any fallen apples/pears from our orchard?
Do you know how old/big they are? I don't think the UK weather is warm or dry enough for them to be out without a shelter with a heat source at the moment. If you can post pics of them someone here will be able to identify them and by the time the owners come back you will be able to tell them how to give them the correct diet and care!

You're right pairs is very risky and if you do a search you will find the threads that show all the reasons why. Bullying isn't always fighting it could be tipping over onto the back - could be possibly fatal if they can't right themselves, or things like looks, trying to edge the other out of a space (often thought to be a friendly gesture but torts don't make friends they are territorial). Often one of the torts will fail to thrive and be much smaller than the bully, but that's something the owner should be aware of.

Without knowing what torts you have I would pick up all windfalls as not all torts should have fruits.

Also hope you have a secure boundary in your orchard because some torts are diggers or even climbers and they are all escape artists and will find any weakness in a fence to push through. Is it safe from predators foxes, seagulls etc. I would hate for you to lose them.

But really it is the responsibility of the owner to come and see where they will be and advise you or make a decision on if it is safe for them or not. If not then he should let you go to his place to look after them in their normal home. Torts don't like changes and it could stress them out.
 

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