Chandler925

New Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2020
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
Fort Worth, TX
Hi everyone! I’m trying to soak up as much information as I can before taking the plunge to my new lifelong (hopefully!) friend. One area I’m having trouble finding info on is the personality comparisons between the small to medium sized tortoise breeds! I understand each tortoise is different but for a breed “standard” as a whole, I am so lost on which to pick!
I’m hoping to find a tortoise who (most importantly) isn’t shy, doesn’t mind being handled often and gently petted (I have an 8 year old who I know will love having a buddy to chill with), and has personality! I’ve prepared to pay whatever I need so, with everything else aside, which tortoises are the most “social”? I’m debating between captive bred only Russian Tortoises, Cherry heads, pancake torts, and Indian stars (or any other “star” breeds)- but that’s only due to my measly online research. I’ll take all suggestions. Anyone have any advice? Which breeds most often come “running up” to you like I’ve read on occasion? Thanks for your help!!
 

OkAdiza

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2019
Messages
324
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
Hello and welcome!
I personally love the Hermann’s tortoise. We have one Eastern and he’s very friendly, isn’t shy and loves when I pet his head or scratch under his chin. Hermann’s are a smaller tortoise too. We have a leopard as well, but she is pretty shy.
 

Maro2Bear

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 29, 2014
Messages
12,418
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
Hi everyone! I’m trying to soak up as much information as I can before taking the plunge to my new lifelong (hopefully!) friend. One area I’m having trouble finding info on is the personality comparisons between the small to medium sized tortoise breeds! I understand each tortoise is different but for a breed “standard” as a whole, I am so lost on which to pick!
I’m hoping to find a tortoise who (most importantly) isn’t shy, doesn’t mind being handled often and gently petted (I have an 8 year old who I know will love having a buddy to chill with), and has personality! I’ve prepared to pay whatever I need so, with everything else aside, which tortoises are the most “social”? I’m debating between captive bred only Russian Tortoises, Cherry heads, pancake torts, and Indian stars (or any other “star” breeds)- but that’s only due to my measly online research. I’ll take all suggestions. Anyone have any advice? Which breeds most often come “running up” to you like I’ve read on occasion? Thanks for your help!!

How much room do you have to dedicate to your tortoise? Sullys get large but have great large personalities to go along with the size. Back scratches, head rubs, come galloping over for a treat of kale. Etc.
 

Bee62

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Tortoise Club
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Nov 13, 2016
Messages
11,997
Location (City and/or State)
Germany
Hermann tortoise are not shy, very active and get not so big. They are very interesting tortoises. They like to climb and roam around and need a big enclosure even when they are still small.
Redfoot tortoises ( Cherry Head or Yellow Head ) get bigger than a Hermann`s tortoise and like to hide when they are small. Their personality grows with the growth of the tort. When they are older they are very tame and come running to you. They really watch their humans well.
 

Chandler925

New Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2020
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
Fort Worth, TX
How much room do you have to dedicate to your tortoise? Sullys get large but have great large personalities to go along with the size. Back scratches, head rubs, come galloping over for a treat of kale. Etc.

i wish I had the room!! My backyard is relatively small but maybe one day!
 

Renrogo

New Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2019
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
OH
My sully is a rescue approx 10 years old and we have had him for a year. I swear he comes when called and will gallop towards anyone with kale or special treats. Very social, curious and follows his people when we are outside. We have a half acre and he loves his backyard and has a daily routine of grazing, sunning, napping and then into his house by 4:00 every day! I swear his memory is amazing!!!!
 

Chandler925

New Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2020
Messages
5
Location (City and/or State)
Fort Worth, TX
Thanks for your advice! I would love a sully but, that will have to be for another time in my life. I’m living in the city with maybe a 12’x12’ patch of grass in the backyard! I’m planning on getting a small/medium size that I can keep indoor most of the time with daily trips outside
 

Ink

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Tortoise Club
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Jun 10, 2016
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I have an Eastern and a Western Hermann they are very friendly and cute. I too can pet their heads. Sweet tortoises not shy
 

Kim&Tim

Active Member
Joined
May 14, 2020
Messages
190
Location (City and/or State)
The Netherlands
I grew up with my grandpas tortoise (testudo graeca graeca), he bought him as an 8 year old in 1925, how old he was we don't know because wildcaught was the way the go back then. We think around 6/10. He came to live with my mom & us in 1985 untill he died in 2011. He was a great tortoise, interested and affectionate if you will😏

I now have a Russian male, a rescue tortoise who was badly treated for 4 years. He still is very friendly, never bitten me and very interested. I can pick him up and he stays completely out, head out, limbs out. I always make sure he sees I'm going to pick him up and I am respectful. He's a great little dude😀
 

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ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
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South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
That size WOULD work for a Redfoot or a Cherryhead Redfoot.
But high humidity would be required. And that makes them a tortoise that is slightly more difficult to keep.
I'd suggest a rugged and relatively small Russian tortoise. They're very active, usually inexpensive and easily found, live a long time and are very interesting.
Although no tortoise likes to be lifted and carried around. Some seem to tolerate human contact much better than others.
 

DesertGirl

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
366
Location (City and/or State)
Fabulous Las Vegas, NV
Hi everyone! I’m trying to soak up as much information as I can before taking the plunge to my new lifelong (hopefully!) friend. One area I’m having trouble finding info on is the personality comparisons between the small to medium sized tortoise breeds! I understand each tortoise is different but for a breed “standard” as a whole, I am so lost on which to pick!
I’m hoping to find a tortoise who (most importantly) isn’t shy, doesn’t mind being handled often and gently petted (I have an 8 year old who I know will love having a buddy to chill with), and has personality! I’ve prepared to pay whatever I need so, with everything else aside, which tortoises are the most “social”? I’m debating between captive bred only Russian Tortoises, Cherry heads, pancake torts, and Indian stars (or any other “star” breeds)- but that’s only due to my measly online research. I’ll take all suggestions. Anyone have any advice? Which breeds most often come “running up” to you like I’ve read on occasion? Thanks for your help!!
Welcome fellow Texan! I was born in Ft Worth but moved to Vegas about 10 years ago. Unless you are lucky enough to live out here in the desert, you won’t get a chance to have my favorite tort, the desert tort. Our girl is the sweetest, cuddliest, funniest, smartest tort ever. She likes interacting with hubs and me, follows us around, loves her pool in the backyard, never met a stranger. I apologize as this is not helping you one tiny bit but I haven’t bragged about Ms Shell in some time! Best wishes to you
 

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Brent L206

New Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
9
Location (City and/or State)
Washington
Hi everyone! I’m trying to soak up as much information as I can before taking the plunge to my new lifelong (hopefully!) friend. One area I’m having trouble finding info on is the personality comparisons between the small to medium sized tortoise breeds! I understand each tortoise is different but for a breed “standard” as a whole, I am so lost on which to pick!
I’m hoping to find a tortoise who (most importantly) isn’t shy, doesn’t mind being handled often and gently petted (I have an 8 year old who I know will love having a buddy to chill with), and has personality! I’ve prepared to pay whatever I need so, with everything else aside, which tortoises are the most “social”? I’m debating between captive bred only Russian Tortoises, Cherry heads, pancake torts, and Indian stars (or any other “star” breeds)- but that’s only due to my measly online research. I’ll take all suggestions. Anyone have any advice? Which breeds most often come “running up” to you like I’ve read on occasion? Thanks for your help!!
Welcome!
Greek tortoises are also worth considering. I have a “Southern” locale Ibera Greek tortoise and he’s very active, VERY personable and instantly comes over to us if we walk up to his tub. He prefers being hand fed and loves to cruise around exploring the house and yard and seems to be a lot more interested in interacting with us than my friends sulcatas ( I have three different friends with sulcatas) And the best part is that Tortellini is able to live inside and outside because his species tend to be very hearty and tolerant of both hot and cold conditions. I’ve been told they’re pretty much like a Hermanns just slightly bigger than the average Hermanns and more tolerant of both heat and cold.
 

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Tom

The Dog Trainer
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This is a great question. It is interesting to me reading all the opinions and biases from all of us here.

The first thing to understand is that there are no tortoise "breeds". The different tortoises are all different species. A chihuahua and a St. Bernard are different breeds, but they are the same species. A Russian and a red foot are two different species.

We are fortunate to have many species to choose from. I'll give my biased opinions of the ones mentioned here that I have experience with, and a few others.

Sulcatas - I think they have the best personalities of any tortoise species. I love them and have been keeping and breeding them since the early 90s. Having said all of that, they are the wrong species for MOST people and they present expensive life altering challenges for most people. I usually recommend against them and try to talk most people out of getting one. I think you are wise for eliminating this species from your list.

Leopards - There are two types: "Regular" leopards and South African leopards. Same species, but very different animals. To add confusion, there are many mixes of the two running around and being bred. Regular leopards stay a little smaller, tend to eat less grass, and are usually shy. SA leopards are bold, eat hay as adults, and get bigger. I think the personality of the regular one will cross this one off your list, and the size of the SA leopard will cross that one off your list.

Pancakes - Wonderful tortoises. Also shy tortoises that hide a lot. That is why they are flat and flexible. Because they hide all day in rock crevices. I like them, but I wouldn't recommend them to someone looking for an outgoing friendly tortoise.

Russians - Small, scrappy, hardy, adaptable, escape artists, usually not fearful as adults. A good choice for your criterion.

Hermanni - Similar to Russians, but less escape prone, they don't disappear into the dirt like a stingray, slightly larger than Russians, and they tend to be more personable than Russians. I also find them much more visually appealing than Russians. I think these should be at the top of your list.

Greeks - Same as hermanni. I see hermanni as more outgoing, but this will vary with individuals. You might get a bold greek or a shy hermanni, but either will work.

Indian stars- Very shy, and can be delicate in some cases. Less tolerant of mistakes. Need it warm year round. They cannot be allowed to get cool. Stay small.

Red footed tortoises - They tend to be personable and will be larger than a Russian or hermanni. They do best in humid warm climates. A little bigger then the Testudo.

Marginated - Slightly bigger than the greeks or hermanni, but similar in most ways. A good choice if you like the greeks or Hermanni, but want something just a little bit larger at around 11 inches instead of 8-10.

Burmese Stars - This might be the perfect tortoise for what you are looking for. Bold and outgoing, personable, 8-11 inches in size, hardy, easy to care for, beautiful, very adaptable to any climate in the US without getting sick from either too much humidity OR too much dryness, easy to feed, easy to house. They are expensive but worth it. One of my favorite species of all time.

Radiata - Similar to Burmese stars, but a little larger and a little different personality. You can get them in TX. Need permits to sell them across state lines. Perfectly legal to own and to buy within your own state with no permits or paperwork. Also expensive, but this is probably THE most beautiful of ALL the tortoise species at every life stage from hatchling to adult. This one tops out at about 16" long.

I find that for most people, one of these will speak to you. You'll be repeatedly drawn back to one or another over and over. You'll find your self reading about one of these species and continually looking up YT videos and doing searches for info. You'll know when it happens.

In the meantime, be aware that most of the care info you find for most of these species is wrong. We are undergoing a bit of a revolution in tortoise care, and the "establishment" is resistant to change some times. You have found the best, most up-to-date care info right here on TFO.
 

Armadillogroomer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
269
Location (City and/or State)
OK
I think Russians are a great species for a pet, most of the ones I’ve met (all adults) have been curious and ready to explore.

I myself have a bias for omnivores, but the red foots can get pretty big and require a lot of space if it’s an indoor pet. From my experience, northern red foots are a little more brave than true cherryheads. My cherryhead does come running to me, but it’s for shrimp! He only allows head scritches if there’s food involved, whereas the Russians I’ve worked with in a previous job were okay with all touching. But redfoots/cherryheads are still my favorite in “personality” (tied with box turtles) because they like food so much. I like making fancy salads 😆
 

DesertGirl

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
366
Location (City and/or State)
Fabulous Las Vegas, NV
This is a great question. It is interesting to me reading all the opinions and biases from all of us here.

The first thing to understand is that there are no tortoise "breeds". The different tortoises are all different species. A chihuahua and a St. Bernard are different breeds, but they are the same species. A Russian and a red foot are two different species.

We are fortunate to have many species to choose from. I'll give my biased opinions of the ones mentioned here that I have experience with, and a few others.

Sulcatas - I think they have the best personalities of any tortoise species. I love them and have been keeping and breeding them since the early 90s. Having said all of that, they are the wrong species for MOST people and they present expensive life altering challenges for most people. I usually recommend against them and try to talk most people out of getting one. I think you are wise for eliminating this species from your list.

Leopards - There are two types: "Regular" leopards and South African leopards. Same species, but very different animals. To add confusion, there are many mixes of the two running around and being bred. Regular leopards stay a little smaller, tend to eat less grass, and are usually shy. SA leopards are bold, eat hay as adults, and get bigger. I think the personality of the regular one will cross this one off your list, and the size of the SA leopard will cross that one off your list.

Pancakes - Wonderful tortoises. Also shy tortoises that hide a lot. That is why they are flat and flexible. Because they hide all day in rock crevices. I like them, but I wouldn't recommend them to someone looking for an outgoing friendly tortoise.

Russians - Small, scrappy, hardy, adaptable, escape artists, usually not fearful as adults. A good choice for your criterion.

Hermanni - Similar to Russians, but less escape prone, they don't disappear into the dirt like a stingray, slightly larger than Russians, and they tend to be more personable than Russians. I also find them much more visually appealing than Russians. I think these should be at the top of your list.

Greeks - Same as hermanni. I see hermanni as more outgoing, but this will vary with individuals. You might get a bold greek or a shy hermanni, but either will work.

Indian stars- Very shy, and can be delicate in some cases. Less tolerant of mistakes. Need it warm year round. They cannot be allowed to get cool. Stay small.

Red footed tortoises - They tend to be personable and will be larger than a Russian or hermanni. They do best in humid warm climates. A little bigger then the Testudo.

Marginated - Slightly bigger than the greeks or hermanni, but similar in most ways. A good choice if you like the greeks or Hermanni, but want something just a little bit larger at around 11 inches instead of 8-10.

Burmese Stars - This might be the perfect tortoise for what you are looking for. Bold and outgoing, personable, 8-11 inches in size, hardy, easy to care for, beautiful, very adaptable to any climate in the US without getting sick from either too much humidity OR too much dryness, easy to feed, easy to house. They are expensive but worth it. One of my favorite species of all time.

Radiata - Similar to Burmese stars, but a little larger and a little different personality. You can get them in TX. Need permits to sell them across state lines. Perfectly legal to own and to buy within your own state with no permits or paperwork. Also expensive, but this is probably THE most beautiful of ALL the tortoise species at every life stage from hatchling to adult. This one tops out at about 16" long.

I find that for most people, one of these will speak to you. You'll be repeatedly drawn back to one or another over and over. You'll find your self reading about one of these species and continually looking up YT videos and doing searches for info. You'll know when it happens.

In the meantime, be aware that most of the care info you find for most of these species is wrong. We are undergoing a bit of a revolution in tortoise care, and the "establishment" is resistant to change some times. You have found the best, most up-to-date care info right here on TFO.
Thank you, Tom. You are always so generous with your time and advice. I really appreciate you.
 

maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
5,156
Location (City and/or State)
PacificNorthWest
Welcome fellow Texan! I was born in Ft Worth but moved to Vegas about 10 years ago. Unless you are lucky enough to live out here in the desert, you won’t get a chance to have my favorite tort, the desert tort. Our girl is the sweetest, cuddliest, funniest, smartest tort ever. She likes interacting with hubs and me, follows us around, loves her pool in the backyard, never met a stranger. I apologize as this is not helping you one tiny bit but I haven’t bragged about Ms Shell in some time! Best wishes to you
Is that an adult female? Gopherus agassizii?
 

maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
5,156
Location (City and/or State)
PacificNorthWest
Welcome!
Greek tortoises are also worth considering. I have a “Southern” locale Ibera Greek tortoise and he’s very active, VERY personable and instantly comes over to us if we walk up to his tub. He prefers being hand fed and loves to cruise around exploring the house and yard and seems to be a lot more interested in interacting with us than my friends sulcatas ( I have three different friends with sulcatas) And the best part is that Tortellini is able to live inside and outside because his species tend to be very hearty and tolerant of both hot and cold conditions. I’ve been told they’re pretty much like a Hermanns just slightly bigger than the average Hermanns and more tolerant of both heat and cold.
You in Washington state? I'm in Oregon
 
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