Newbie - Advice Appreciated!

Peking Duck

New Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2024
Messages
3
Location (City and/or State)
Hazlehurst Georgia
Hello everyone!!

Super excited to finally be here. I’ve wanted to own a tortoise for quite some time now. My wife and I just bought our first home and I feel I can provide a tortoise with the environment/space that it needs and deserves.

I live in South Georgia and I’m considering either a Hermmani or Russian tortoise. My plan is to build something outside so that I can provide as much space as possible. I’ve seen some cool stuff online and plan to let the tortoise roam the yard often since I can supervise while gardening. The only question I have at this point is heat during the nights and winter days. I want to provide my tortoise with the best care possible so any advice is greatly appreciated.

1/4 acre property

Acces to electricity

Prefer building a ground enclosure and shelter

Main Concern - heat source and setup for night/winter months.
 

wellington

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10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
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Welcome
If you get a hatchling, it needs to be housed indoors in a closed chamber high humidity enclosure for approximately 3 years. During those three years or so it can have short visits outside
Once it's big enough then it can live outside in a safe enclosure. Do not let it roam the yard as you will lose it. They can disappear at the drop of a hat.
Russians will dig and climb and are great escape artist.
Hermanns, I'm not as familiar with but don't think they are as good at escaping.
They pretty much are raised the same way.
 

Peking Duck

New Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2024
Messages
3
Location (City and/or State)
Hazlehurst Georgia
Welcome
If you get a hatchling, it needs to be housed indoors in a closed chamber high humidity enclosure for approximately 3 years. During those three years or so it can have short visits outside
Once it's big enough then it can live outside in a safe enclosure. Do not let it roam the yard as you will lose it. They can disappear at the drop of a hat.
Russians will dig and climb and are great escape artist.
Hermanns, I'm not as familiar with but don't think they are as good at escaping.
They pretty much are raised the same way.
I appreciate the advice!

I was also wondering if there are any other tortoises that will thrive outdoors in South Georgia? Preferably one that grows to be rather large.
 

zovick

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10 Year Member!
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
3,487
I appreciate the advice!

I was also wondering if there are any other tortoises that will thrive outdoors in South Georgia? Preferably one that grows to be rather large.
Burmese Star Tortoises do well in GA. So do Radiated Tortoises. Adult Burmese Stars can reach over 12" in length; adult Radiated Tortoises are even larger and can reach 16"-17". Both species are fairly cold tolerant. I left my adult specimens of both species outdoors day and night in Dacula, GA unless the temperatures went below 55 degrees.

In Burma, I observed a Burmese Star female sunning herself under a bush when the air temp was 38 degrees. I would not recommend exposing them to temps that low here, though.

Younger tortoises, under about 3 years old, are best off being raised indoors as wellington said above. The sun is very intense in GA and small tortoises can readily be overheated by it if left outdoors without close supervision and lots of shade. Small tortoises are also very difficult to find in pens with good vegetation.

When you say you can let the tortoise "roam the yard" and observe it while you are gardening, do you mean in an unfenced area? I would discourage you from doing that unless you place a tracking device on the tortoise. They can disappear if you take your eyes off them for only a few seconds. People never believe that until it happens to them, but there are numerous threads on this site recounting such experiences.

If you decide you want a Radiated Tortoise, I can refer you to one of my friends who breeds them in north GA.
 

Peking Duck

New Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2024
Messages
3
Location (City and/or State)
Hazlehurst Georgia
Burmese Star Tortoises do well in GA. So do Radiated Tortoises. Adult Burmese Stars can reach over 12" in length; adult Radiated Tortoises are even larger and can reach 16"-17". Both species are fairly cold tolerant. I left my adult specimens of both species outdoors day and night in Dacula, GA unless the temperatures went below 55 degrees.

In Burma, I observed a Burmese Star female sunning herself under a bush when the air temp was 38 degrees. I would not recommend exposing them to temps that low here, though.

Younger tortoises, under about 3 years old, are best off being raised indoors as wellington said above. The sun is very intense in GA and small tortoises can readily be overheated by it if left outdoors without close supervision and lots of shade. Small tortoises are also very difficult to find in pens with good vegetation.

When you say you can let the tortoise "roam the yard" and observe it while you are gardening, do you mean in an unfenced area? I would discourage you from doing that unless you place a tracking device on the tortoise. They can disappear if you take your eyes off them for only a few seconds. People never believe that until it happens to them, but there are numerous threads on this site recounting such experiences.

If you decide you want a Radiated Tortoise, I can refer you to one of my friends who breeds them in north GA.
So here’s what I was thinking about doing. I’ve attached photos.

If necessary while the tortoise is still small I was planing on going with this type of terrarium and keeping it in my screened in porch. (If absolutely necessary I can put it in my den)

Once it’s time to move it outside I have the option to build in an open area with lots of sun or an area with lots of shade provided by trees.

You mentioned not leaving them outside below 55 degrees… can I build a small outdoor enclosure with a heat source or would you recommend something like a shed to keep the tortoise “indoors” at night?

The yard is fenced in and I’d keep a close eye out. A tracker does not sound like a bad idea either way.

What are your thoughts?
 

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