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Suggestions On Which Tortoise To Get

Discussion in 'General Tortoise Discussion' started by Jennifer M, Nov 25, 2016.

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  1. Jennifer M

    Jennifer M Active Member

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    Suggestions needed:

    We live in South Georgia (about an hour north of Tallahassee Florida) and are looking into getting a tortoise or two. I've been researching and this is what I've figured out. I know we want a smaller species (up to maybe 18 in) that can live outdoors in a ground enclosure year round. We want one that is pretty active and social.
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  2. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Hi Jennifer and welcome to the Forum!

    Sounds to me as if you're describing a russian tortoise (Testudo horsefieldii). They hibernate, so you'd have to box him up in the winter, but he can live outside the rest of the time.
  3. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi Jennifer.

    Russians are one of the smaller tortoises. They are, however, very active and need a minimum of 8'x4' for their enclosure. To be honest, that's the bare minimum for any of the smaller species once they're out of babyhood. Babies and very young torts need a closed chamber setup indoors.

    Tortoise generally are not social. They don't like company and don't need or want a friend. Bullying and fighting are common if they are kept in pairs. I advise you to get only one.

    Can I suggest you read this

    Beginner Mistakes
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
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  4. Alexio

    Alexio Active Member

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    I like marginated tortoises a lot. The baby's look like greeks and Hermanns but when they get big they develop a really beautiful marginal flair. I also find mine to be quite personable.
    That being said Russian tortoises are really nice too. I have one to will run over for food in the mornings, he is quite endearing. Most of the Testudo species of tortoise are smallish when full grown and can hibernate.
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  5. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Redfoot. Or Cherryhead.

    But don't get two. Get one, or get three or more. Not a pair.
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  6. tglazie

    tglazie Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I wouldn't recommend a Russian on account of how wet the climate is in South Georgia, honestly. Historically, I've had difficulty keeping Russians here in South Texas, given the regularity of flash floods and rain soaked spring time weather. That being said, keeping a Russian could work, but indoor housing for those cool, wet times and those warm but thoroughly soaked times would be advisable.

    Bottom line, you can't just let a tortoise outdoors, year round, and expect it to fare well with absolute certainty, unless it's a native animal, and even then, I wouldn't advise it. Pretty much the only animals I've allowed outdoors year round are North American water turtles, given that nothing is going to swim into the murky depths to prey upon them in their sleep. Southern Georgia is a pretty warm place, but they still get cold, relatively rainy winters when compared to Southern Florida, for example. I keep marginated tortoises, which are very well adapted to the South Texas climate overall, but I still maintain indoor enclosures so that I may more closely control their temperatures during the colder months leading up to brumation, and when it comes to brumating the animals, I control that absolutely using a large refrigerator. Additionally, colder months in the south are generally beset by warm spells, and these warm/cold rises and drops tend to spell disaster for tortoises left to the mercy of the elements.

    On top of all this, the number one reason I advocate against allowing a tortoise to spend the winter outdoors is their vulnerability to rats. When a tortoise is asleep under several feet of soil and leaf litter, you can't check on that tortoise to see how he/she is doing. You can't weigh him/her. You can't guage his/her state of hydration. And most importantly, you can't make sure a hungry rat isn't using your pet as a winter time store of fresh meat. If there is one group of animals I hate above all others, it is rats. It is why I bathe my cat Stinky with such great affection, because Stinky murders every single rat she sees scurry across my property, removing body parts of these loathsome monsters and gifting them to me as trophies. It is why I set up traps every twenty feet of my perimeter, as well as traps in the barn and throughout my house. I hate rats with a passion I reserve for nothing and no one else, and I will not allow those disgusting vermin access to my tortoises.

    Sorry to veer a little, but regarding tortoises that would be good for your area, marginated tortoises and Hermanns tortoises would do well, I think, as would Tom's suggestion of a redfoot. All of these animals are fairly hardy, but none of them could stand being outdoors year round, in my view.

    T.G.
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  7. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    When I imagine a tortoise "housed outdoors year round", I imagine a properly designed enclosure with a temperature controlled shelter suitable for the species and climate. Kind of like what I do here with all of my tortoises that live outside year round. I suppose that should have been mentioned in my reply, rather than assuming the OP knows that...
  8. tglazie

    tglazie Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Indeed, Tom. Outdoors with a heated night box with an optional cold frame or greenhouse attachment would work for a situation involving "outdoors year round." Apologies, I always approach these questions assuming the OP knows little to nothing, not as a measure of ill will or condescension, but in an attempt to be as thorough as possible.

    T.G.
  9. HI Tortoise Rescue

    HI Tortoise Rescue Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Jennifer, may I ask WHY you want a couple of tortoises of that size? People have many reasons for starting out with our hardshell friends, & to get an answer for you, it helps to know what you want from the relationship. You're in an excellent area to start off with a box turtle or two - if you live near a forested area, you can likely find them wandering around. We had a dozen a week wander through our yard just north of New Orleans! Box turtles are more social than tortoises, are very smart, & most of them interact well with their people. Might that work for you?

    Ken
  10. Kaliman1962

    Kaliman1962 Active Member

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    Tom - where can i get a cherry head?
  11. JENNY04

    JENNY04 New Member

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  12. JENNY04

    JENNY04 New Member

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    That's kinda of a bigger tortoise. I think if it's stays warm and humid I would get a cherryhead tortoise or redfoot cherryheads are smaller than redfoots. They are a more of a tropical tortoise that do good in a warm humid environment. They make good pets .
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