Planning to adopt a tort - help selecting a species

angeneer

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Sep 25, 2019
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Hello everyone! I'm new here. I have searched the forums and read many discussions, but I still have a few questions. I am a planner (and anxious about ensuring my pets are cared for properly), so thank you in advance for your help :)

I am located on the east coast of Canada and I am looking to adopt/purchase a tort. I have had a red eared slider turtle for the past 12 years (his name is Turbo, he is a very happy and healthy guy who visits vet specialist yearly, huge tank, proper lighting/basking, etc.), so I have experience with aquatic turtles, but I understand that tortoises are a totally different ballgame. I am a planner and type A when it comes to my pets, so I want to be sure I have everything 100% researched and correct before any tort comes into my home.

Things I know I will need:
1 - a smaller species (perhaps 12''-14'' or less in length, a Sulcata would be a bit too much for me!)
2 - ideally a species that does not hibernate/brumate (I don't think I could be without my tort for months at a time)

My question: what species of small tortoise is best for someone who lives somewhere with a colder climate? We have about 8 months a year where my tort could be outdoors (large backyard with grass), but I don't mind having him/her indoors all year (except for daytime trips to the yard to graze). Is there a species that is better-suited to being able to live on things I can buy, rather than pick from the yard (weeds, etc.)? It snows here quite a lot, and the ground freezes solid for months, so I need to be able to purchase adequate nutrition for the tort during these months. There is a chance I will move to the Carolinas in the next few years, but I am planning for the worst-case scenario.

Thank you again for your help! I want to do the absolute best I can for my future tort.
-Angela
 

Blackdog1714

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If you want a real life trial- take a bag of concrete and put it in a wheelbarrow and add a ton of water. Lift, move 20 feet back in forth in the same path . Then ram the loaded wheelbarrow into your fence several times. Finally dump it on your prettiest spot in the yard. You have just recreated what owning a sulcata is like when they grow up!.

Welcome and research your brain out! We love questions and can't wait to see photos! And please remember "Torting ain't easy"
 

Markw84

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The first consideration for me if I were to take on keeping a tortoise in Canada - are you prepared to spent the money and have room to provide an adequate setup for a tortoise that would properly accommodate it even as an adult? The cost of a tortoise is nothing compared to the cost of setting it up properly.

Canada is a tough place for a tortoise. Climate is the first concern. Since there is not suitable climate conditions there, you will need to create it. Although temps do warm enough to seem OK for a tortoise some of the year, ground temperatures are important since tortoises use the ground to moderate their temperature. That far north, the ground is always too cold even on a warm day, so a tortoise pushing under a bush, or in a protected corner, or digging a burrow - will always be confronted with temperatures too cold. Also, UVB levels rarely reach an adequate level there from natural sunlight. Good UVB will need to be provided. So an indoor enclosure will always be its main home.

That means your selection should probably be limited to smaller species. Most, as adults, will need an enclosure with at least an 8x3 footprint to do well. I would look at setting up an enclosed chamber type setup so climate could be better controlled/created that suits your tortoise. That way, you will have a nice 8x3 environment you can control properly and provide to the needs of your tortoise.

I would also be sure to get a well started, healthy captive bred tortoise.

Not many species will thrive in space that small.

Pancakes would be a first choice. They are a unique looking species, but even a small group could certainly be set up nicely in an area that size.
Egyptian tortoise could do well. Small, and harder to find available and will be pricey.
Spider tortoises, tent tortoises, angulated and padlopers are small tortoises, but not "beginner" tortoises. If experienced and commited, they could work well in that size.
Indian star tortoise could be a good choice.
Some of the smaller Greek tortoise sub-species could work, but I feel do best with more room.
Russian tortoise would also be better with more room, and should definitely be limited to just one in that size.

I think that is about it as all the others get too big and need room for exercise along with their size.
 

Yvonne G

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Just a note of information for you: Tortoises need to walk in order for a healthy digestive tract. Being confined to a small area where they don't do much walking is harmful.
 

angeneer

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Thanks, everyone! I am definitely prepared to spend whatever I need to in order to properly house/accommodate my tort. I have read about how critical walking and exercise is to torts, so I would start with a big enclosure that they can grow into, and I am thinking covered would be better for humidity regulation. As I understand it, they shouldn't be permitted to walk freely around the house as it causes anxiety and they will then constantly seek to be out of their enclosure, is that correct?

Re: species, it seems many of the smaller ones brumate for many months of the year, and I have found conflicting information on whether or not this is necessary for their health or just a byproduct of their circumstances in the wild (i.e. if they have UVB/heat/light/food/humidity year-round, do they still need to brumate?). I love Greek torts but I had crossed them off my list as they apparently must brumate?

I'm still many months out from making the purchase, and everything will be set up correctly before s/he comes to their new home.
 

Kyle gempler

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Sep 22, 2019
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Arizona
Hello everyone! I'm new here. I have searched the forums and read many discussions, but I still have a few questions. I am a planner (and anxious about ensuring my pets are cared for properly), so thank you in advance for your help :)

I am located on the east coast of Canada and I am looking to adopt/purchase a tort. I have had a red eared slider turtle for the past 12 years (his name is Turbo, he is a very happy and healthy guy who visits vet specialist yearly, huge tank, proper lighting/basking, etc.), so I have experience with aquatic turtles, but I understand that tortoises are a totally different ballgame. I am a planner and type A when it comes to my pets, so I want to be sure I have everything 100% researched and correct before any tort comes into my home.

Things I know I will need:
1 - a smaller species (perhaps 12''-14'' or less in length, a Sulcata would be a bit too much for me!)
2 - ideally a species that does not hibernate/brumate (I don't think I could be without my tort for months at a time)

My question: what species of small tortoise is best for someone who lives somewhere with a colder climate? We have about 8 months a year where my tort could be outdoors (large backyard with grass), but I don't mind having him/her indoors all year (except for daytime trips to the yard to graze). Is there a species that is better-suited to being able to live on things I can buy, rather than pick from the yard (weeds, etc.)? It snows here quite a lot, and the ground freezes solid for months, so I need to be able to purchase adequate nutrition for the tort during these months. There is a chance I will move to the Carolinas in the next few years, but I am planning for the worst-case scenario.

Thank you again for your help! I want to do the absolute best I can for my future tort.
-Angela

I recommend a Russian because they are a good size and an easier tort to start with. They are also accustomed to colder climates in the Canadian area.
 

angeneer

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Sep 25, 2019
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Interesting! There is so much conflicting information (i.e. things like this: https://www.thetortoiseshop.com/tortoise-hibernation ).

If brumation isn't necessary, then I think I may get a Greek tortoise. They are the perfect size, absolutely adorable (a friend of mine has 7 (!!) of them, some 40+ years old, and they are just the sweetest little guys), and everything I've read about their care seems like something I can totally handle and do very well. Russians seem to be quite aggressive and require a lot of activity, which I worry I will be challenged to provide without access to the outdoors. I was looking at Indian Stars, but they seem more fragile in terms of their environment. I will, of course, be doing everything to create the necessary environment, but I worry about having a fragile species.

I will only be getting one tortoise, as I have read here that they do best as solitary animals rather than in pairs.

Thoughts on a Greek, given my situation?

Thanks everyone :)
 
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