How much space does a tortoise need?

Brockazoid

Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2018
Messages
60
Location (City and/or State)
Hesperia ca
I have a 3 inch sulcata tortoise in a closed up tub that's big enough for him now but I feel like he's need a bigger one.does anyone know more or less how much space your supposed to give a sulcata from when he's a baby to a full grown adult? I understand the more space the better, I'm just asking is there like a guideline for space that's comfortable for tortoises of certain sizes? Just so I can have an idea of what to do as far as space goes for my growing tortoise, indoor space and outdoor.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
56,833
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I don't think there is a firm right or wrong answer to this. If you put a 100 pound male in a 8x8' enclosure, it wouldn't drop dead, but I think most of us would agree that is much too small. Likewise, I sometimes see people recommending one acre for each adult. While that would certainly do no harm, I also think it is unrealistic and unnecessary.

Given the above, here are my personal guidelines:
I think something around 100 gallon size, or the equivalent, is good to start a hatchling. If it is a well started baby and housed in the right conditions, it will outgrow this in a few months tops. When they are this size, say under 4", I use a large kiddie pool or make a 4x8' outdoor enclosure for sunning.

Once they outgrow their starter enclosure, I find it most sensible and practical to just move them into a 4x8' closed chamber for indoors and I make their outdoor enclosure ever larger. A 4x8' indoor enclosure should last them until they are about 8-10 inches and its time for them to live outside full time. No sense in building 4 or 5 enclosures. Just build or buy a 4x8' and be done with it. And there is no reason a little one can't be moved into a large 4x8 closed chamber earlier.

At 8-10" I move them outside full time and I like them to have at least 30x30' of enclosure space and a heated night box. I add humidity to the night box in my dry climate, but someone in Louisiana or FL might not need to.

By the time they reach 14-16 inches, its time to house them like a full adult and give them room to exercise. I think 50x50 is a good baseline minimum for an adult, but larger would be better. Mine have 8000 sq. ft. and they use every inch of it. Is my enclosure too small? Sometimes I think so, but I think most sulcata keepers would think its adequate. Right now I'm housing a lone 18" male in a 60x50 enclosure and he seems content with it.

What I don't have an answer for is what to do with a 10"+ growing sulcata when you live in the frozen north and they can't go live outside. This is controversial, but I have yet to see someone housing a large sulcata in a climate like this in a way that I would be comfortable with or find acceptable. They can survive a lot, but keeping a large one in a shed or basement for months at a time, is not acceptable to me and I wouldn't do it that way. You won't have that problem to consider in your climate though.
 

Brockazoid

Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2018
Messages
60
Location (City and/or State)
Hesperia ca
I don't think there is a firm right or wrong answer to this. If you put a 100 pound male in a 8x8' enclosure, it wouldn't drop dead, but I think most of us would agree that is much too small. Likewise, I sometimes see people recommending one acre for each adult. While that would certainly do no harm, I also think it is unrealistic and unnecessary.

Given the above, here are my personal guidelines:
I think something around 100 gallon size, or the equivalent, is good to start a hatchling. If it is a well started baby and housed in the right conditions, it will outgrow this in a few months tops. When they are this size, say under 4", I use a large kiddie pool or make a 4x8' outdoor enclosure for sunning.

Once they outgrow their starter enclosure, I find it most sensible and practical to just move them into a 4x8' closed chamber for indoors and I make their outdoor enclosure ever larger. A 4x8' indoor enclosure should last them until they are about 8-10 inches and its time for them to live outside full time. No sense in building 4 or 5 enclosures. Just build or buy a 4x8' and be done with it. And there is no reason a little one can't be moved into a large 4x8 closed chamber earlier.

At 8-10" I move them outside full time and I like them to have at least 30x30' of enclosure space and a heated night box. I add humidity to the night box in my dry climate, but someone in Louisiana or FL might not need to.

By the time they reach 14-16 inches, its time to house them like a full adult and give them room to exercise. I think 50x50 is a good baseline minimum for an adult, but larger would be better. Mine have 8000 sq. ft. and they use every inch of it. Is my enclosure too small? Sometimes I think so, but I think most sulcata keepers would think its adequate. Right now I'm housing a lone 18" male in a 60x50 enclosure and he seems content with it.

What I don't have an answer for is what to do with a 10"+ growing sulcata when you live in the frozen north and they can't go live outside. This is controversial, but I have yet to see someone housing a large sulcata in a climate like this in a way that I would be comfortable with or find acceptable. They can survive a lot, but keeping a large one in a shed or basement for months at a time, is not acceptable to me and I wouldn't do it that way. You won't have that problem to consider in your climate though.
Thanks for sharing your guideline with me. i now have a better understanding of how to go about it as far as space goes.your really on point when it comes to peoples questions and concerns i thank you for taking the time..i really appreciate all the advice.information.and help you and everyone else has given me on this thing.
 

Marianna

Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2017
Messages
55
Location (City and/or State)
Crete Greece
Thanks for sharing your guideline with me. i now have a better understanding of how to go about it as far as space goes.your really on point when it comes to peoples questions and concerns i thank you for taking the time..i really appreciate all the advice.information.and help you and everyone else has given me on this thing.
 

Marianna

Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2017
Messages
55
Location (City and/or State)
Crete Greece
I just want to add one thing. My 3 (5 year old) male marginated tortoises live in a "semi wild" enclosure of 5000 square feet. It has quite some level differences, lots of rock formations, an aerea with trees and also open land.
It amazes me how strong their legs are when I see them climbing and how fast they can run. As Tom said they use every inch and I am already thinking of extending the area. I am sure if I had kept them in a smaller space, they would not be as happy and healthy as they are now.
 

SULCY

Active Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2017
Messages
180
Location (City and/or State)
NEW YORK
I think the most space you can give the better. If you live in the cold north like I do and give them a large space even in winter it is better than living in a nice warm area and do not have the room and have them living in a small area.
 

New Posts

Top