NEW! And Picking the right tortoise

sylvester

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Feb 4, 2024
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10
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Atlanta GA
Hi, I'm new to the forum and wanting to get a tortoise this year! Looking for advice and recommendations, I'm not sure what type of tortoise to get, so I'm going to share a bit about my environment/plan and would like to know what you think the best fit would be:
I live outside of atlanta ga, humidity is about 50-80% year round and we get an average of 45-50in of rain a year.
I have a big yard and garden/grow some of my own produce and am really excited about making tortoise salads.
I have crested geckos in bioactive enclosures, so some understanding of reptile requirements and setting up enclosures.
My plan so far is both an outdoor garden enclosure and an indoor tortoise table in my sun room (with consistent heating/light of course). I'd like to start with a juvenile or baby and raise it, keeping it in the tortoise table until it's matured and then when the seasons and weather is right it can live in an outdoor enclosure. I've been looking at smaller types, so I'd still be able to bring it to its tortoise table in cooler months or bad weather. Is it recommended to also bring them in at night? I've also seen night boxes where they get locked up at night? Not sure what the best practice is there. Not to mention people that leave them out year round/ burry them for brumation?? I've read lots of conflicting stuff about that.
Anyways, as I've researched it sounds like hermann's, greek, and Russian tortoises are all popular and possible fits for me. But I've also been reading about leopard, marginated, and red footed tortoises. None seem to have any glaring red flags for me not being able to keep them, but I want to pick a tortoise that will thrive where I live.

What are your thoughts, recommendations, advice? Any glaring problems with my plan or something I might have not thought of? What are YOUR favorite breeds of tortoises?
Thanks!
 

Yvonne G

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Russian tortoises are very forgiving of poor care and mistakes new keepers make. But they still need to be kept outside when weather is good, and they need lots of space as they are wanderers.
 

zovick

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Hi, I'm new to the forum and wanting to get a tortoise this year! Looking for advice and recommendations, I'm not sure what type of tortoise to get, so I'm going to share a bit about my environment/plan and would like to know what you think the best fit would be:
I live outside of atlanta ga, humidity is about 50-80% year round and we get an average of 45-50in of rain a year.
I have a big yard and garden/grow some of my own produce and am really excited about making tortoise salads.
I have crested geckos in bioactive enclosures, so some understanding of reptile requirements and setting up enclosures.
My plan so far is both an outdoor garden enclosure and an indoor tortoise table in my sun room (with consistent heating/light of course). I'd like to start with a juvenile or baby and raise it, keeping it in the tortoise table until it's matured and then when the seasons and weather is right it can live in an outdoor enclosure. I've been looking at smaller types, so I'd still be able to bring it to its tortoise table in cooler months or bad weather. Is it recommended to also bring them in at night? I've also seen night boxes where they get locked up at night? Not sure what the best practice is there. Not to mention people that leave them out year round/ burry them for brumation?? I've read lots of conflicting stuff about that.
Anyways, as I've researched it sounds like hermann's, greek, and Russian tortoises are all popular and possible fits for me. But I've also been reading about leopard, marginated, and red footed tortoises. None seem to have any glaring red flags for me not being able to keep them, but I want to pick a tortoise that will thrive where I live.

What are your thoughts, recommendations, advice? Any glaring problems with my plan or something I might have not thought of? What are YOUR favorite breeds of tortoises?
Thanks!
Pancake Tortoises are small and do very well here in GA. There was a breeder from northwest GA (near Resaca) selling some last week.
 

wellington

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All of them need a closed chamber as hatchlings and up to about 3 years of age, with 80% humidity and proper temps, not an open top table.
The Redfoot, Leopard and Marginated would need a room size enclosure as an adult for inside. The Hermann's, Greek and Russian all need at minimum a 4x8 foot enclosure indoors and hopefully larger outside as adults
The night boxes are exactly what you said. For locking the tortoise up at night for safety and so they can retreat into it when they don't want to be in the elements going on outside
You can bring them in every night if you want.
Brumating the ones that do brumate should not be left up to them doing it on their own outside. That will not go good. That works only in their native land and not in someone's enclosure.
 

sylvester

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Feb 4, 2024
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Atlanta GA
I lived in Georgia and my tortoise was killed by fire ants. Please be careful about the ants.
That is a really good warning, thank you, I'll make sure I'm diligent. And I'm so sorry for your loss, that's really sad. Have u learned of anyways to prevent it now?
 
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sylvester

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Atlanta GA
Russian tortoises are very forgiving of poor care and mistakes new keepers make. But they still need to be kept outside when weather is good, and they need lots of space as they are wanderers.
Thank u, I'm very excited to make a large and enriching habitat outside for whatever tortoise I get
 

Ink

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That is a really good warning, thank you, I'll make sure I'm diligent. And I'm so sorry for your loss, that's really sad. Have u learned of anyways to prevent it now?
I moved to Virginia. LOL. It was over 20 years ago. I do suggest to dig the soil up in different spots and check for ants. It was a Russian tortoise who dug in the ground. I didn't see any ants above ground until I picked up my tortoise. Fire ants everywhere. Just a warning to be extra careful.
 

Tom

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Hi, I'm new to the forum and wanting to get a tortoise this year! Looking for advice and recommendations, I'm not sure what type of tortoise to get, so I'm going to share a bit about my environment/plan and would like to know what you think the best fit would be:
I live outside of atlanta ga, humidity is about 50-80% year round and we get an average of 45-50in of rain a year.
I have a big yard and garden/grow some of my own produce and am really excited about making tortoise salads.
I have crested geckos in bioactive enclosures, so some understanding of reptile requirements and setting up enclosures.
My plan so far is both an outdoor garden enclosure and an indoor tortoise table in my sun room (with consistent heating/light of course). I'd like to start with a juvenile or baby and raise it, keeping it in the tortoise table until it's matured and then when the seasons and weather is right it can live in an outdoor enclosure. I've been looking at smaller types, so I'd still be able to bring it to its tortoise table in cooler months or bad weather. Is it recommended to also bring them in at night? I've also seen night boxes where they get locked up at night? Not sure what the best practice is there. Not to mention people that leave them out year round/ burry them for brumation?? I've read lots of conflicting stuff about that.
Anyways, as I've researched it sounds like hermann's, greek, and Russian tortoises are all popular and possible fits for me. But I've also been reading about leopard, marginated, and red footed tortoises. None seem to have any glaring red flags for me not being able to keep them, but I want to pick a tortoise that will thrive where I live.

What are your thoughts, recommendations, advice? Any glaring problems with my plan or something I might have not thought of? What are YOUR favorite breeds of tortoises?
Thanks!
Hello and welcome. We don't need the address, but what city. I spent a lot of time the last few years in Senoia, Peachtree City and Newnan. I know that area well now.

I love the indoor/outdoor thing. The torts get used to that routine quickly and it really does give the best of both worlds for tortoises that are past the baby stage.

As Wellington mentioned, open topped tables aren't suitable for babies of any species. Leopards, RFs and Marginata all get too big for practical indoor housing, and leopards sometimes have trouble with the humidity there when they are older and living outside. Sickness is common.

Do you want a species that brumates, or not? And by the way, none of them should ever be buried in the yard for brumation. That is a good way to kill one. There is a lot of bad info out there. Here is the right info:

Read through this one a couple of times. There is a care sheet for temperate and also tropical species, and there is also a heating and lighting breakdown near the bottom. Questions are welcome.
 
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sylvester

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Feb 4, 2024
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10
Location (City and/or State)
Atlanta GA
Hello and welcome. We don't need the address, but what city. I spent a lot of time the last few years in Senoia, Peachtree City and Newnan. I know that area well now.

I love the indoor/outdoor thing. The torts get used to that routine quickly and it really does give the best of both worlds for tortoises that are past the baby stage.

As Wellington mentioned, open topped tables aren't suitable for babies of any species. Leopards, RFs and Marginata all get too big for practical indoor housing, and leopards sometimes have trouble with the humidity there when they are older and living outside. Sickness is common.

Do you want a species that brumates, or not? And by the way, none of them should ever be buried in the yard for brumation. That is a good way to kill one. There is a lot of bad info out there. Here is the right info:

Read through this one a couple of times. There is a care sheet for temperate and also tropical species, and there is also a heating and lighting breakdown near the bottom. Questions are welcome.
Thank you! I live in Douglasville, west of Atlanta. I'll focus my research to the 3 smaller species, greek, russian, and hermanns, and I definitely don't want to get a tortoise that will suffer in this climate. I'm toying with the idea of also tortoise proofing my sunroom (which is where the table will be) so that it can have more indoor wandering space during the day (will be researching that more in depth for how to convert a room).
Also I can easily provide an enclosed humidity controlled enclosure for a baby tort, I've experience maintaining humidity from raising geckos. I'll be looking into those requirements 👍
So far brumation is the one thing I'm finding very intimidating, I'm worried about messing it up, but we've also been having extremely cold spells and had a power outage a few weeks ago, so it might be safer to have them brumate securely in the cold months. Can you tell me which species out of the 3 do require brumating and which don't? I've seen conflicting info about indoor pet tortoises not needing to, there's been different answers everytime I look it up, I'll be reading through the resource u linked 👍
 

sylvester

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Joined
Feb 4, 2024
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Atlanta GA
diatomaceous earth
consider a Redfoot...you can't resist this faceView attachment 366171
So cute! I've been advised that they will probably be a little to big for what I'll be setting up. But they are so fabulous. How does the diatomaceous earth work? How much would I need? We've thankfully never had fire ants in our yard, but do have issues with Argentinian ants
 

sylvester

New Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2024
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Atlanta GA
Hello and welcome. We don't need the address, but what city. I spent a lot of time the last few years in Senoia, Peachtree City and Newnan. I know that area well now.

I love the indoor/outdoor thing. The torts get used to that routine quickly and it really does give the best of both worlds for tortoises that are past the baby stage.

As Wellington mentioned, open topped tables aren't suitable for babies of any species. Leopards, RFs and Marginata all get too big for practical indoor housing, and leopards sometimes have trouble with the humidity there when they are older and living outside. Sickness is common.

Do you want a species that brumates, or not? And by the way, none of them should ever be buried in the yard for brumation. That is a good way to kill one. There is a lot of bad info out there. Here is the right info:

Read through this one a couple of times. There is a care sheet for temperate and also tropical species, and there is also a heating and lighting breakdown near the bottom. Questions are welcome.
I'm also building a 6×10 green house currently which may be a better option for warm but rainy days when the tortoise is fully grown, as opposed to tortoise proofing an entire room (the tortoise table will still always be an option). Im thinking having the night box in the greenhouse at least would provide an extra level of safety from weather and pests/predators. Once the green house is done my plan is to have the tortoise enclosure wrap around it creating a little yard, that way as the sun moves the tortoise can always have access to a shady side or a sunny side. I'm still planning everything out and working through logistics so I'm open to advice on what will work best or may sound like a bad idea. Thanks again!
 

Tom

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Thank you! I live in Douglasville, west of Atlanta. I'll focus my research to the 3 smaller species, greek, russian, and hermanns, and I definitely don't want to get a tortoise that will suffer in this climate. I'm toying with the idea of also tortoise proofing my sunroom (which is where the table will be) so that it can have more indoor wandering space during the day (will be researching that more in depth for how to convert a room).
Also I can easily provide an enclosed humidity controlled enclosure for a baby tort, I've experience maintaining humidity from raising geckos. I'll be looking into those requirements 👍
So far brumation is the one thing I'm finding very intimidating, I'm worried about messing it up, but we've also been having extremely cold spells and had a power outage a few weeks ago, so it might be safer to have them brumate securely in the cold months. Can you tell me which species out of the 3 do require brumating and which don't? I've seen conflicting info about indoor pet tortoises not needing to, there's been different answers everytime I look it up, I'll be reading through the resource u linked 👍
All the Testudo species brumate. Russians, Greeks, and hermanni. All three are great choices. Brumation is natural and easy when done right. The horror stories are from when it is done wrong. We can help you with this if you decide to go that way. Also, while I think temperate species that brumate in the wild should be brumated in our captive care, you don't HAVE to brumate them. You can choose to keep them up and warm all winter, though they sometimes will argue with you about this and try to go to sleep anyway. Here is more info on brumation, so that you can make an informed decision:

If you would prefer a species that doesn't need to brumate, and you can keep a large enclosure 80+ degrees year round, then a pancake, or a Burmese star will do great in your climate. With the larger sunroom or greenhouse, I think you can add a RF or cherry headed RF to your list of potentials. With a heated night house, any of these will do great in your climate most of every year. Its just getting them through to cold spells in winter that you'll have to figure out. A large 3x8 foot Smart Enclosure in your living room would do it very well for a star or pancake. You'll need something larger for a RF.

Just for fun, here is my take on the Burmese star:
 

sylvester

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Feb 4, 2024
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10
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Atlanta GA
All the Testudo species brumate. Russians, Greeks, and hermanni. All three are great choices. Brumation is natural and easy when done right. The horror stories are from when it is done wrong. We can help you with this if you decide to go that way. Also, while I think temperate species that brumate in the wild should be brumated in our captive care, you don't HAVE to brumate them. You can choose to keep them up and warm all winter, though they sometimes will argue with you about this and try to go to sleep anyway. Here is more info on brumation, so that you can make an informed decision:

If you would prefer a species that doesn't need to brumate, and you can keep a large enclosure 80+ degrees year round, then a pancake, or a Burmese star will do great in your climate. With the larger sunroom or greenhouse, I think you can add a RF or cherry headed RF to your list of potentials. With a heated night house, any of these will do great in your climate most of every year. Its just getting them through to cold spells in winter that you'll have to figure out. A large 3x8 foot Smart Enclosure in your living room would do it very well for a star or pancake. You'll need something larger for a RF.

Just for fun, here is my take on the Burmese star:
I think the Burmese star is absolutely gorgeous, look wise they are hands down my favorites. I hadn't been looking into them as much because when I'd research who would be best for where I live they didn't pop up as often. I'd also prefer an outgoing pet, the more I see of them and the more they interact with the space I make for them the better. I'll definitely be looking into them more if you're saying they can thrive in my climate.
Of the Russian, Greek, hermanns, what's your take on their personalities? Appearance wise I'm feeling pretty even on all of them, so it might come down to personality 😅
 

sylvester

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Feb 4, 2024
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10
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Atlanta GA
All the Testudo species brumate. Russians, Greeks, and hermanni. All three are great choices. Brumation is natural and easy when done right. The horror stories are from when it is done wrong. We can help you with this if you decide to go that way. Also, while I think temperate species that brumate in the wild should be brumated in our captive care, you don't HAVE to brumate them. You can choose to keep them up and warm all winter, though they sometimes will argue with you about this and try to go to sleep anyway. Here is more info on brumation, so that you can make an informed decision:

If you would prefer a species that doesn't need to brumate, and you can keep a large enclosure 80+ degrees year round, then a pancake, or a Burmese star will do great in your climate. With the larger sunroom or greenhouse, I think you can add a RF or cherry headed RF to your list of potentials. With a heated night house, any of these will do great in your climate most of every year. Its just getting them through to cold spells in winter that you'll have to figure out. A large 3x8 foot Smart Enclosure in your living room would do it very well for a star or pancake. You'll need something larger for a RF.

Just for fun, here is my take on the Burmese star:
What's the reasonable price range for a baby/juvenile Burmese star? When looking them up they seem to be 800+, while the 3 main ones I was looking at were available under 600$
 

Tom

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I think the Burmese star is absolutely gorgeous, look wise they are hands down my favorites. I hadn't been looking into them as much because when I'd research who would be best for where I live they didn't pop up as often. I'd also prefer an outgoing pet, the more I see of them and the more they interact with the space I make for them the better. I'll definitely be looking into them more if you're saying they can thrive in my climate.
Of the Russian, Greek, hermanns, what's your take on their personalities? Appearance wise I'm feeling pretty even on all of them, so it might come down to personality 😅
-Burmese stars have the best personalities of any on your list.
-Russians are hit or miss. Most are pretty good, but I've seen some that don't want anything to do with people, and others that I call "super males" that are absurdly territorial and aggressive. These super males can happen with any Testudo and its fairly rare to see, but it happens.
-Greeks tend to be more shy than the others discussed here, but this varies.
-Hermanni are usually pretty good as adults. Not too shy and not too crazy. Curious and interactive. I like them the best of all the Testudo species. I have not had hands on westerns, so I'm speaking only of the easterns. I have been told by keepers of westerns that their personality is in general more subdued than the easterns.

When looking for opinions on this, be sure the opinion giver has worked extensively with all of these and has experienced them first hand. Many people love their own tortoise and think its the greatest thing ever, but they have not worked with any or some of the other species being discussed, so they really have no frame of reference to compare. They just love their pet. Its great that they love their pet, but that doesn't mean their species tends to have a better personality than some other species. I think sulcatas have the best personalities of any species, but they are exceedingly difficult to manage in all but the most southern portions of our country. They are the wrong species for most people, even though the personality is so great. I think you are going about this in all the right ways, and I think you will be rewarded with a terrific tortoise keeping experience when the time comes.
 

Tom

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What's the reasonable price range for a baby/juvenile Burmese star? When looking them up they seem to be 800+, while the 3 main ones I was looking at were available under 600$
Prices on the Burmese are falling. They breed readily, and lots of people have them now. We are still trying to get $700 for one, but we all cave if someone offers something close, and group discounts are the order of the day too. I prefer to keep most species in groups, but that can cause hassles with some species as they mature and you have multiple males. This is one nice thing about the Burmese stars. You can keep multiple adult males together with multiple females, and there are no issues. They can be housed in any combination of sexes.
 

sylvester

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Feb 4, 2024
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Atlanta GA
Prices on the Burmese are falling. They breed readily, and lots of people have them now. We are still trying to get $700 for one, but we all cave if someone offers something close, and group discounts are the order of the day too. I prefer to keep most species in groups, but that can cause hassles with some species as they mature and you have multiple males. This is one nice thing about the Burmese stars. You can keep multiple adult males together with multiple females, and there are no issues. They can be housed in any combination of sexes.
I'll have to look through the forums Resources for where to buy a tortoise. 700$ or less sounds good. I'm only looking for a single pet tortoise for now, perhaps in the future if i have more land and resources I'd consider multiple. I was under the impression that all tortoises are happy to be solitary, do Burmese stars prefer Companions? Also wanted to say thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it.
 

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