questions to determine if i can possibly care for a tortoise. informed answers only, please.

Eden

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Mar 26, 2022
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hi carers, i am completely new here and my name is Eden. i live in Bournemouth (in the south of England) and am hopeful that one day i may be able to care for a tortoise. it is very unlikely to be any time soon, possibly even a decade from now, as i want to make sure that i can ensure a tortoise's happiness and health. i know that's up to me and there's no point in convincing anyone, so i'm just needing to start by asking some questions (that i hope could be answered by some very knowledgeable and experienced carers, so i can be sure) that will tell me whether the dream could be made a reality, and (even if it Could) how desirable the tortoise's life would be even if i dedicated every moment to its care. so here goes:

- i think i know the answer to this one, but is it essential for the mental and physical health of every single species of tortoise to have an owned space of sunlit, outdoor land for an outdoor enclosure?

- if not, are any exceptional species available in the UK?

- is it psychologically - or otherwise - damaging to give tortoises their natural sunlight and fresh air by frequent visits to public areas that they can not call home?

- related to the above: in what ways is it damaging for tortoises to be carried to locations they can not map the journey to (be as vague as you like)?

- on the tiny off-chance that there is a species of tortoise that doesn't necessarily need a private outdoor space, would a 1m x 2m space for an enclosure be enough?

- i live in the south of England, in a coastal city that usually gets quite cold at night even in the summer. in winters the outside temp rarely exceeds 55 and frequently drops below freezing. in summers the extreme highs and lows are usually between about 50 and 85 towards the end of July, but the hot period does not last long. the humidity is very high, between 70&90. i currently live in a flat, but might one day be able to get a place with a small private garden. given the climate of where i live, would it be good for any species of tortoise to have an outdoor enclosure in this part of the world? if it is feasible, then which species would be most suited? (i will do my own research on this but need to check first that there are suitable species that exist in the UK)

- i have no objection to individuals (who inform themselves and give proper dedication) breeding or purchasing animals, however i do have a bit of an issue with a lot of commercial breeding (though admittedly i know very little about tortoise breeding and my issue comes mostly from what i have learned about the industries for breeding more popular pets), and on a personal, philosophical/ethical level i am a bit averse to funding the selling of animals taken from their parents in general. i guess what i am saying is that i would much prefer to take care of a tortoise that another person has decided they don't want, such that my only involvement would be helping an animal in need. are rescue tortoises much of a thing where you live (whoever is answering) or in the UK? if so, would only experienced carers be considered? i ask this because unfortunately i can easily imagine some people buying a tortoise impulsively or for superficial reasons and then tiring of the work and money they have to put into what should be a lifelong commitment.

- finally, and perhaps most importantly, i have never had full responsibility for the life of an animal, ever. while i am sure within myself that with the life of an animal in my care (or even the prospect of that happening in the future) i would do everything possible to care for my animal, would you advise against starting with a tortoise? i feel i should mention that i have been diagnosed bipolar and schizophrenic as well as (though this is probably a benefit) Asperger's, and am currently recovering from a three-year period of intermittent but severe psychotic episodes (though i have been stable for a year, have overcome many of the past issues that resulted in the episodes, am free of illicit drugs and am on a strong path to recovery). i would not consider getting a tortoise (even with a garden) for at least a year until i can be sure that i am not prone to having another episode (even though my episodes were not aggressive and did not cause me to neglect myself or others, quite the opposite), but what potential effects could these conditions have on my ability to properly care for a tortoise? i am doing an un-medicated recovery, would the lack of medication be too risky if i am caring for a tortoise in your opinion?

much love to all of you and thank you so much for your help 🐢
 

Ink

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Welcome to the forum. I am not in a medical field whatsoever, nor am I a tortoise/ turtle expert. I would personally would work on my health first. I would stay on the forum and keep reading about the different tortoise and turtles in your area before committing to one. My opinion.
 

Tom

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hi carers, i am completely new here and my name is Eden. i live in Bournemouth (in the south of England) and am hopeful that one day i may be able to care for a tortoise. it is very unlikely to be any time soon, possibly even a decade from now, as i want to make sure that i can ensure a tortoise's happiness and health. i know that's up to me and there's no point in convincing anyone, so i'm just needing to start by asking some questions (that i hope could be answered by some very knowledgeable and experienced carers, so i can be sure) that will tell me whether the dream could be made a reality, and (even if it Could) how desirable the tortoise's life would be even if i dedicated every moment to its care. so here goes:

- i think i know the answer to this one, but is it essential for the mental and physical health of every single species of tortoise to have an owned space of sunlit, outdoor land for an outdoor enclosure?

- if not, are any exceptional species available in the UK?

- is it psychologically - or otherwise - damaging to give tortoises their natural sunlight and fresh air by frequent visits to public areas that they can not call home?

- related to the above: in what ways is it damaging for tortoises to be carried to locations they can not map the journey to (be as vague as you like)?

- on the tiny off-chance that there is a species of tortoise that doesn't necessarily need a private outdoor space, would a 1m x 2m space for an enclosure be enough?

- i live in the south of England, in a coastal city that usually gets quite cold at night even in the summer. in winters the outside temp rarely exceeds 55 and frequently drops below freezing. in summers the extreme highs and lows are usually between about 50 and 85 towards the end of July, but the hot period does not last long. the humidity is very high, between 70&90. i currently live in a flat, but might one day be able to get a place with a small private garden. given the climate of where i live, would it be good for any species of tortoise to have an outdoor enclosure in this part of the world? if it is feasible, then which species would be most suited? (i will do my own research on this but need to check first that there are suitable species that exist in the UK)

- i have no objection to individuals (who inform themselves and give proper dedication) breeding or purchasing animals, however i do have a bit of an issue with a lot of commercial breeding (though admittedly i know very little about tortoise breeding and my issue comes mostly from what i have learned about the industries for breeding more popular pets), and on a personal, philosophical/ethical level i am a bit averse to funding the selling of animals taken from their parents in general. i guess what i am saying is that i would much prefer to take care of a tortoise that another person has decided they don't want, such that my only involvement would be helping an animal in need. are rescue tortoises much of a thing where you live (whoever is answering) or in the UK? if so, would only experienced carers be considered? i ask this because unfortunately i can easily imagine some people buying a tortoise impulsively or for superficial reasons and then tiring of the work and money they have to put into what should be a lifelong commitment.

- finally, and perhaps most importantly, i have never had full responsibility for the life of an animal, ever. while i am sure within myself that with the life of an animal in my care (or even the prospect of that happening in the future) i would do everything possible to care for my animal, would you advise against starting with a tortoise? i feel i should mention that i have been diagnosed bipolar and schizophrenic as well as (though this is probably a benefit) Asperger's, and am currently recovering from a three-year period of intermittent but severe psychotic episodes (though i have been stable for a year, have overcome many of the past issues that resulted in the episodes, am free of illicit drugs and am on a strong path to recovery). i would not consider getting a tortoise (even with a garden) for at least a year until i can be sure that i am not prone to having another episode (even though my episodes were not aggressive and did not cause me to neglect myself or others, quite the opposite), but what potential effects could these conditions have on my ability to properly care for a tortoise? i am doing an un-medicated recovery, would the lack of medication be too risky if i am caring for a tortoise in your opinion?

much love to all of you and thank you so much for your help 🐢
I'll answer your question in order.

1. With the right heating and lighting and a suitable large enclosure, several species can live indoors indefinitely. Some people are not comfortable with that, but I am. The great outdoors is a dangerous place, wrought with potential tortoises killers in so many ways. Predators, dehydration, cold temps, diseases, flipping over in the sun, ants, dogs, hot temps, poisonous weeds or flowers popping up or blowing in, foreign body ingestion, etc... Indoors is much safer when done correctly, and it CAN be done correctly. Having said that, I live in a great climate for tortoises, and all of my adults of all species live outside full time in large enclosures. All babies are started mostly indoors.

2. Exceptional species in the UK? Not sure what you mean, but any species can live indoors full time with the right set up.

3. Sunlight in public areas? This is fine, but you have to be very careful of pesticides, dogs, wild predators, toxic plants, and a host of other tortoise killers. Most public areas, like parks, are sprayed with all sorts of lawn chemicals and pesticides. Use appropriate caution.

4. Its not damaging to move them to other areas. At first this will cause some stress, but most tortoises of most species will settle down and get used to such a routine. Its like taking a puppy out. The world can be scary and bewildering at first, but they get used to it and desensitize to their routine. A good measure is to watch a tortoises appetite. If they eat when they are out, and still eat while at home, then they are not very stressed at all.

5. 1 x 2m is just a tad too small. Even the males of the smallest species should have something around the size of a sheet of plywood, 1.22 x 2.44m. Bigger than this would be better, and this is part of what I meant when I said "a suitable enclosure" previously. A large size is one of the several elements of suitability.

6. Any of the Testudo would do fine in your climate with suitable indoor housing coupled with a large safe outdoor enclosure for fair weather. Hermanni, Greeks and Russians.

7. Tortoises lay eggs and walk away. There is no parental care. Most reptiles are bred by hobbyists who are passionate about their chosen species, so the whole "commercial breeding" thing really doesn't apply here. There are people who buy reptiles and then tire of their care or the expenses, and the good ones sell them or give them away to a good home. There is nothing wrong with this. Reptiles do not form deep emotional bonds with people, and it can be a big detriment to their health and well being when people anthropomorphize them. Tortoises live forever. Someone in their 80 may very well be tired of caring for an animal they've had since they were 50, and there is nothing wrong with that tortoise going to another home where its needs will be met and it will be well cared for. Out human emotional attachments mean nothing to a reptile. My concern is that a tortoise be properly fed and cared for, regardless of who the current owner is. Having said all of that, there is no reason why you can't pursue a "rescue" tortoise in your area and give it a great home.

8. Your medical and psychiatric doctors would be much better able to answer your final question than anyone on the internet who has never met you and is not aware of the details of your medical history. I will say that for some people, in some situations, having a pet to care for can be very therapeutic. There is no possible way I could make that determination in your case. Having seen what your sort of mental illness can do, I would highly recommend you take the medication prescribed to you by the medical professionals who are overseeing your case. I have seen some horrible things when people go "off their meds".
 

Eden

New Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2022
Messages
3
Location (City and/or State)
Bournemouth, UK
I'll answer your question in order.

1. With the right heating and lighting and a suitable large enclosure, several species can live indoors indefinitely. Some people are not comfortable with that, but I am. The great outdoors is a dangerous place, wrought with potential tortoises killers in so many ways. Predators, dehydration, cold temps, diseases, flipping over in the sun, ants, dogs, hot temps, poisonous weeds or flowers popping up or blowing in, foreign body ingestion, etc... Indoors is much safer when done correctly, and it CAN be done correctly. Having said that, I live in a great climate for tortoises, and all of my adults of all species live outside full time in large enclosures. All babies are started mostly indoors.

2. Exceptional species in the UK? Not sure what you mean, but any species can live indoors full time with the right set up.

3. Sunlight in public areas? This is fine, but you have to be very careful of pesticides, dogs, wild predators, toxic plants, and a host of other tortoise killers. Most public areas, like parks, are sprayed with all sorts of lawn chemicals and pesticides. Use appropriate caution.

4. Its not damaging to move them to other areas. At first this will cause some stress, but most tortoises of most species will settle down and get used to such a routine. Its like taking a puppy out. The world can be scary and bewildering at first, but they get used to it and desensitize to their routine. A good measure is to watch a tortoises appetite. If they eat when they are out, and still eat while at home, then they are not very stressed at all.

5. 1 x 2m is just a tad too small. Even the males of the smallest species should have something around the size of a sheet of plywood, 1.22 x 2.44m. Bigger than this would be better, and this is part of what I meant when I said "a suitable enclosure" previously. A large size is one of the several elements of suitability.

6. Any of the Testudo would do fine in your climate with suitable indoor housing coupled with a large safe outdoor enclosure for fair weather. Hermanni, Greeks and Russians.

7. Tortoises lay eggs and walk away. There is no parental care. Most reptiles are bred by hobbyists who are passionate about their chosen species, so the whole "commercial breeding" thing really doesn't apply here. There are people who buy reptiles and then tire of their care or the expenses, and the good ones sell them or give them away to a good home. There is nothing wrong with this. Reptiles do not form deep emotional bonds with people, and it can be a big detriment to their health and well being when people anthropomorphize them. Tortoises live forever. Someone in their 80 may very well be tired of caring for an animal they've had since they were 50, and there is nothing wrong with that tortoise going to another home where its needs will be met and it will be well cared for. Out human emotional attachments mean nothing to a reptile. My concern is that a tortoise be properly fed and cared for, regardless of who the current owner is. Having said all of that, there is no reason why you can't pursue a "rescue" tortoise in your area and give it a great home.

8. Your medical and psychiatric doctors would be much better able to answer your final question than anyone on the internet who has never met you and is not aware of the details of your medical history. I will say that for some people, in some situations, having a pet to care for can be very therapeutic. There is no possible way I could make that determination in your case. Having seen what your sort of mental illness can do, I would highly recommend you take the medication prescribed to you by the medical professionals who are overseeing your case. I have seen some horrible things when people go "off their meds".
thank you so much Tom, i really appreciate you taking the time to respond question by question. this was exactly what i was hoping for and i am glad it was you who answered because i have looked through some of your comments and was considering writing you a PM when i was worried i would not get a response. that relieved me of any doubts i might have (especially knowing about Testudo) and i can now start doing real research and preparing to care for a tortoise as a long term goal.

there is one more doubt that i neglected to mention though, which is that my partner will also want to get a dog probably around the time that i am ready to care for a tortoise. what risks are associated with dogs and tortoises being in the same house? is there a chance a well-fed and happy dog would prey upon a tortoise? would they need to be completely separate at all times in all cases or are there certain types of dog and situations where it may be safe for them to be in the same space?
 
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Eden

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Joined
Mar 26, 2022
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3
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Bournemouth, UK
Welcome to the forum. I am not in a medical field whatsoever, nor am I a tortoise/ turtle expert. I would personally would work on my health first. I would stay on the forum and keep reading about the different tortoise and turtles in your area before committing to one. My opinion.
that is sound advice Ink, i agree and will wait until i am ready before getting a tortoise. also thank you for responding because my friend here just got a baby rat and was deciding what to call him. "Ink" was actually a name he was considering (and my favourite having met the little guy), but this is the second sign we have received after an old friend of mine sent me a song he wrote called "Ink", so it looks like the universe made the decision for us. 💖
 
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wellington

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I'm not Tom but to answer the dog question. You can have a dog in the house but it has to always be kept away from the tortoise when neither of you can 100% supervise. And I mean 100%. Can't even walk away for a second.
This can be done with a locking or hooked lid of some sort on the torts enclosure.
 

Dragon

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Jan 25, 2022
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I cant help you with the tort care and such right now but I might be able to relieve some of your worry about having a dog and a tort, Im a 64 year old woman and i have always had animals of all kinds living with me in my homes. Right now i have 2 dogs a cat and a bird. If you have the room i dont think there should be a problem with having a dog and a tort, providing you take everyones needs and natral habits in consideration. I have my bird cage on a high platform where i can see it weather im in the kitchen or the livingroom. Although my cat has never bothered the bird, the cat NEVER has free rain of the house if nobody ( human) is home. She has her litter box, food & water dishes in there as well as ample toys. Any time both of us have to be out of the house for even a short while the cat is put in this bedroom and the door has a slide lock on the outside so she can not open the door and get out. We do this because before we got the slide lock she somehow managed to get the door opened. Both dogs have free run of the house. The smaller dog goes with me anywhere i go and the larger dog has free rain of the house even when we are gone. sissy my tort is always in her tort house which is quite high off the ground unless I am soaking her.Iv only had my tort for a couple of weeks so so far i havent had her roaming around on the floor. When she is more settled I may try letting her walk around a little bit in the house...but if i do the cat will be locked in the bedroom and the dogs will be locked outside in there dog yard or in my wood shop. I have a small circle type baby gate I can open up and put her in on the floor so she cant get away from me, or rather so she cant get anywhere i cant see her. she small enough even as an adult that she could get under furnture or in a corner somewhere where i wont easely be able to see her. The trick to having muliti animals and espically muliti animals of different species is to first KNOW your animals and there natral instints. Cats eat birds, birds are a natral food for them in the wild as are mice and fish. if your going to have a cat and or birds and fish you MUST first decide how you are going to keep the bird and fish safe from the cat. Some dogs and cats dont get along so if you want both get them as puppys and kittens so they grow up together....also make sure the cat has someplace to go to get away from the dog if they want to. Our dogs are NOT ALLOWED in the bedroom where we keep the cats things and where she spends the night.... its important that she has a place to just hang and not be bothered. And of course my tort has her house which is also set up high enough that she cant be reached. As was said earler I would talk to your dr before getting any kind of animals and defently stay on your meds. My youngest daughter suffers from depression and her dr wrote her a script to get a cat so she could have one in her first apartment. It was a great help and comfort for her...shes married now and she still has her cat and her husband intruduced his cat into the family and there doing fine.. I myself suffer from panic anxity and agoraphobia. My animals are a great comfort to me....and my smaller dog is my service dog who gos with me everywhere I go. My oldest is high functioning autist and he finds his cat helps him deal with every day life and calming down. talk to your drs and they will be better able to advise you. I hope this helps in some small way
 

lynnefay

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i think the fact you are asking these questions is a good start:) it proves you care and are willing to do the work.
i have 3 Horsfields, each with a separate indoor, on my sunporch, enclosure...and i live in a cold rainy climate. i use a space heater and proper lighting. i let them out to wander the porch and on our few nice days i take them out to graze. i am just finishing a 8x10ft outdoor enclosure, south facing. (2.5 meters by 3.3). it will be nice for them when summer comes. and nice for me, since when i let them out they all want to go opposite directions, lol. a play pen of sorts.
a 3ft by 6ft indoor enclosure is great and take them to the park when it is nice....but don't look away for a miniute! they dissappear!
 

Avuwyy

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hi carers, i am completely new here and my name is Eden. i live in Bournemouth (in the south of England) and am hopeful that one day i may be able to care for a tortoise. it is very unlikely to be any time soon, possibly even a decade from now, as i want to make sure that i can ensure a tortoise's happiness and health. i know that's up to me and there's no point in convincing anyone, so i'm just needing to start by asking some questions (that i hope could be answered by some very knowledgeable and experienced carers, so i can be sure) that will tell me whether the dream could be made a reality, and (even if it Could) how desirable the tortoise's life would be even if i dedicated every moment to its care. so here goes:

- i think i know the answer to this one, but is it essential for the mental and physical health of every single species of tortoise to have an owned space of sunlit, outdoor land for an outdoor enclosure?

- if not, are any exceptional species available in the UK?

- is it psychologically - or otherwise - damaging to give tortoises their natural sunlight and fresh air by frequent visits to public areas that they can not call home?

- related to the above: in what ways is it damaging for tortoises to be carried to locations they can not map the journey to (be as vague as you like)?

- on the tiny off-chance that there is a species of tortoise that doesn't necessarily need a private outdoor space, would a 1m x 2m space for an enclosure be enough?

- i live in the south of England, in a coastal city that usually gets quite cold at night even in the summer. in winters the outside temp rarely exceeds 55 and frequently drops below freezing. in summers the extreme highs and lows are usually between about 50 and 85 towards the end of July, but the hot period does not last long. the humidity is very high, between 70&90. i currently live in a flat, but might one day be able to get a place with a small private garden. given the climate of where i live, would it be good for any species of tortoise to have an outdoor enclosure in this part of the world? if it is feasible, then which species would be most suited? (i will do my own research on this but need to check first that there are suitable species that exist in the UK)

- i have no objection to individuals (who inform themselves and give proper dedication) breeding or purchasing animals, however i do have a bit of an issue with a lot of commercial breeding (though admittedly i know very little about tortoise breeding and my issue comes mostly from what i have learned about the industries for breeding more popular pets), and on a personal, philosophical/ethical level i am a bit averse to funding the selling of animals taken from their parents in general. i guess what i am saying is that i would much prefer to take care of a tortoise that another person has decided they don't want, such that my only involvement would be helping an animal in need. are rescue tortoises much of a thing where you live (whoever is answering) or in the UK? if so, would only experienced carers be considered? i ask this because unfortunately i can easily imagine some people buying a tortoise impulsively or for superficial reasons and then tiring of the work and money they have to put into what should be a lifelong commitment.

- finally, and perhaps most importantly, i have never had full responsibility for the life of an animal, ever. while i am sure within myself that with the life of an animal in my care (or even the prospect of that happening in the future) i would do everything possible to care for my animal, would you advise against starting with a tortoise? i feel i should mention that i have been diagnosed bipolar and schizophrenic as well as (though this is probably a benefit) Asperger's, and am currently recovering from a three-year period of intermittent but severe psychotic episodes (though i have been stable for a year, have overcome many of the past issues that resulted in the episodes, am free of illicit drugs and am on a strong path to recovery). i would not consider getting a tortoise (even with a garden) for at least a year until i can be sure that i am not prone to having another episode (even though my episodes were not aggressive and did not cause me to neglect myself or others, quite the opposite), but what potential effects could these conditions have on my ability to properly care for a tortoise? i am doing an un-medicated recovery, would the lack of medication be too risky if i am caring for a tortoise in your opinion?

much love to all of you and thank you so much for your help 🐢

Since everything else has been answered somewhat… I’ll answer this final question with my own experiences. I’m Autistic and have a handful of mental illnesses which can make caring for myself and another living being difficult somedays. Depending on how bad it gets, some days it can make getting up just to feed my tortoise an extremely exhausting task, even if it only takes 30 seconds to tear up his desired food and wash it. My being Autistic hasn’t really impacted how I care for and interact with my tortoise, but I’ve actually found that after getting my tortoise, tortoises have become a special interest of mine, which is a gooooooood thing? (If someone is willing to talk about a special interest, it can be good for their mental health)

Mental health can be difficult to manage, especially when another life relies on you to survive. It can be exhausting forcing yourself to do something that you really don’t want to do, such as leave your bed to soak your tortoise, feed them or clean their enclosure… Taking them to the vet when they need it… It is a lot of work.

I’ve personally found it good for my mental health owning a tortoise, even if sometimes it’s exhausting and pulls me out of something I’m preferring to do when I’m depressed (Sleeping or staring at a wall typically). It gives you a routine to stick to, which can help with your own self care. After I soak my tortoise and clean his enclosure, I need to take a shower [OCD] (+1 self care kinda). When I go down to make his food I make a note to grab something for me to eat whilst he soaks (+1 self care). Since I don’t have a safe enclosure for him outside, when I take him outdoors I will sit with him for upwards of an hour, getting fresh air and sun (+1 self care).

Everyone’s mental health is different though. The things I find helpful may not necessarily be helpful to you, and you may find owning an animal to be too much responsibility. I cannot talk in regards to the traits of your mental health disorders, but I can speak on my own, and my own experiences

Also for tortoise rehoming in the UK, check this place: https://www.tortoise-protection-group.org.uk/site/131.asp
 
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