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What species should I get

Discussion in 'Tortoise FAQs - New and need help?' started by gbuiting, May 17, 2015.

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  1. Tobesonthenose

    Tobesonthenose New Member

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    Hello, I just joined the site to gain some valuable info. I live in Southern California and have a concrete patio so I will be building an outdoor tortoise table 4'x6' (possibly 4'x8') to house the tortoise in. It will be enclosed to protect from predators and planted with native edible plants. I'm interested in getting either a baby Herman's or Marginated tortoise, or a juvenile California Desert Tortoise.

    I have been in contact with local tortoise rescue and they have some juveniles around 6" is smallest they have.

    In approximately 2-3 years I should be purchasing a house so eventually I can provide a larger enclosure.

    My question is will the CA desert tort. outgrow this enclosure within 2-3 years? Or am I better off getting one of the smaller species such as a baby Herman's or Marginated instead so it will have less chance of outgrowing its enclosure?

    Also are any of these 3 species more outgoing/personable/interactive than the others?. I would prefer an outgoing tortoise that is not shy.

    Thanks, for your opinions! I am open to other species too if you think something else may work out better.
    afnankutbi likes this.
  2. Lyn W

    Lyn W Well-Known Member

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    Just jumped from your intro post. I can't advise on torts but think the bigger the better enclosure wise is a good rule and making sure you can provide correct heat day and night when needed,and humidity are other things you have to consider too, but the caresheets for the species you are thinking about should tell you about temps etc.
    Tobesonthenose likes this.
  3. Gabriella Elia

    Gabriella Elia Member

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    Hi, I have a baby Hermann who is very outgoing, he is very often doing laps of his inclosure and very rarely hides away. However if you prefer the larger types of tortoise then the marginated tortoise is the largest of the testudo species. I don't know much about the CA desert tortoise I'm afraid but good luck on finding a good tortoise species!
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  4. Tidgy's Dad

    Tidgy's Dad Well-Known Member

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    4' by 8' would be pretty much a minimum.
    Bigger is always better, if you can manage it.
    I'd go with one of the smaller types myself, but regarding personality, well it seems that though generally some species are more outgoing than others, often they have their own personalities, so you can't guarantee an outgoing type, sometimes you just have to pick what you're drawn to.
  5. Tobesonthenose

    Tobesonthenose New Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions. I think I will play it safe and get a single smaller tortoise, probably Hermans Tortoise. I still plan on building a larger enclosure once I get a house but this way it won't outgrow his enclosure before I can upgrade. I have a good size patio with areas of dirt so when I am home he will have a pretty good amount of area to roam around.

    What would be the smallest size tortoise I could start out with safely living outdoors 100% of the time in a predator proof enclosure? If it got cold enough for it to want to hibernate i would probably do that as I don't want to set up an indoor encIosure during winter. I'm in Costa Mesa, California (southern CA). A heat lamp or blanket could be provided in his house during colder nights if needed.

    Thanks
  6. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    No tortoise should live outside full time as a baby, despite what CTTC says. It is not good for them and that is just one reason why so many baby CDTs die. The best way to house babies of any species is to have a large indoor enclosure for most of the time, and a large outdoor enclosure for favorable weather. Small babies should only be outside for one or two hours a day tops. As they gain size they can stay out longer and longer.

    If you are close to the coast, say within 5-10 miles or so, I would not get a DT. Coastal cold clammy weather will make them sick. The Mediterranean species are more suited to this sort of environment.

    4x8' outside will be too small for any of these species at 3 years old. They need room to roam and a variety of microclimates.

    Another factor to consider is that as the years pass, our plans often et derailed or changed. I would not get a tortoise now with the assumption that you'll have a house with a nice yard in three years. I think you can make it work now, but you need an indoor enclosure for a baby now and a larger outdoor enclosure for when the baby gets older and bigger.

    Care info for Mediterranean species is very similar. Care info for the DTs is also similar too. Here are some care sheets with the correct care info.
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/thread...or-other-herbivorous-tortoise-species.107734/
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/sticky-hermanns-tortoise-care-sheet-updated.101410/
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/semi-underground-russian-box.98590/

    After reading through all of these, I think you will have a much better idea of how to meet the needs of a tortoise.
  7. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    The weather here in SoCal is too unpredictable and too variable to safely hibernate OR keep a hibernating species up all winter with out some substantial effort. Our winter warm spells make them wake up and down, which is really bad. Our winter cold spells can spell doom to a tortoise who ate in the warm sunny weather a few days ago. Its easier to maintain tropical species outside year round here with the use of a heated night box for nights and colder days. I bring all my hibernators inside to a controlled fridge to give them consistently cold enough hibernation temps. Many tortoises die every year when left to the whims of mother nature outside.

    Using a little 4x8 raised table makes this even harder.
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  8. Tobesonthenose

    Tobesonthenose New Member

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    Thanks for the advice Tom, I do have a side yard that could be used instead. I just wasn't sure if it gets enough sunlight back there. There are trees above it so it has patchy sun and shade for most of the day. Here is a picture
  9. Tobesonthenose

    Tobesonthenose New Member

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    [​IMG]
    I can't figure out how to load picture, sorry. Anyways the area is dirt and has patchy sun most of the day. Has a good couple square feet of it in the morning, the rest of the day are patchy areas a little less than 1 square foot here and there where sun shines through the leaves of the tree. I could also build a larger 4'x10' in this area with an L shaped addition about 2'x4' connected to it. Is this enough sunlight for a tortoise? I was also pondering an ornate box turtle and providing a more humid environment if you think that may be a better option.

    Thanks
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
  10. Tidgy's Dad

    Tidgy's Dad Well-Known Member

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    Patches of sun and shade sounds great to me.
    Shouldn't need to much direct California sun, I guess.
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  11. A3luton

    A3luton New Member

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    Hi I am new here and new to tortoises, I am planning on getting a turtle or Tort for my son who is turning 11. However I am secretly getting it for myself knowing he still has college ( years of torting to myself!) and young adult life where he may need me to Tort-sit... we currently have a dog and chickens so I am used to the whole Salmonella concern and don't even bat an eye... I live in MA so I am looking for a place to get supplies that aren't big chain pet stores. I would also LOVE advise as to the breed ( is that even what it is called for torts) I really don't want an aggressive adult or a huge tort. I would Say between 8- 20 inches as an old timer. I also plan on having another child within the next couple years so i am unsure if that plays into any ideas.... Thanks for all your expert advise..
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  12. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Hello and Welcome:). The Russian, Greeks, and hermanni's are good beginner species. They stay smaller. Lots of the items needed can be bought at Home Depot type stores and is usually cheaper then pet stores. The bulbs and heating elements are usually only found at pet stores, but the fixtures can be purchased at the Home Depots or even hardware stores, along with the clay plant saucers for a water dish, substrate and rock and wood decorations.
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  13. Merrick

    Merrick Well-Known Member

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    Tortoises at this point in time have species not breeds I would recommend a testudo species something like a Hermann's or greek tortoise if you want something a little bigger a red foot might be okay but can't handle the cold as good if you want a turtle box turtles would be awesome look around the forum and see what you like
    Also welcome to the forum
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  14. MegDH

    MegDH New Member

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    Hello! I have been researching tortoises and am quite overwhelmed with all the information out there! I am looking to get a tortoise in December but am researching now to make sure I make the best decision so the tortoise is in the correct environment. I live a little north of Atlanta and can build a tortoise table for inside. I also have a good sized fenced in yard for outside time during the summer. I would definitely like the smallest tortoise possible that is best for a beginner. (I have had many aquatic turtles but this will be first tortoise) I would also like one that isn't super shy (though I know none of them should be handled) I have read that Hermann's and Russians are the best beginner tortoise but seem to read different information about which one is smaller and which one best for beginners. Any advice? I also want to purchase from a reputable breeder, how on earth do I decide on a breeder!!!! I believe there will be a reptile show in the Atlanta area next month so I will check that out. I know sometimes though it is hard to tell a good breeder from a breeder who would be called a 'puppy mill breeder' in the dog world!
    Thank you for any advice you experts can offer! I want to make sure my tortoise is in his correct environment to stay happy and healthy for the rest of his life!
  15. leigti

    leigti Well-Known Member

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    Russians, Herman's, and Greeks are all good beginner tortoises. And they don't get very big. But they still need a lot of room. It's recommended an indoor enclosure for a Russian be 4 x 8'.
    Box turtles are also nice. Many of them don't get too big. Any tortoise or Boxturtle you get will need a fair amount of room. Check out the species specific section and read up on different types of tortoises.
  16. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    Good info given. Check out all the species info and care sheets and then come back with any questions you didn't get answered or any confusion. It can get over whelming sometimes.
  17. MegDH

    MegDH New Member

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    I read somewhere (I feel like I have read so much that everything is blending together!!) that box turtles really aren't good for beginners. I just want to do the right thing and make sure I give my new friend a good life. What would you say is the biggest difference between Russians and Hermanns???
  18. johnsonnboswell

    johnsonnboswell Well-Known Member

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    I think hermann's are prettier. I have both RTs and hermann's. The male RT is quite small.

    Can you visit some tortoises and see which species makes your heart sing?

    Box turtles are my absolute favorites, but that might be because I used to find wild ones, and fell in love with them when I was a young child.
    queqid in Indiana likes this.
  19. ZEROPILOT

    ZEROPILOT Well-Known Member TFO Supporter Platinum Supporter

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    Welcome. I didn't see your location....
    If you plan on housing outside, and you should, your location might be helpful in determining what would be best suited for you.
    For example, in humid, hot Florida, a Redfoot is ideal....
  20. ZEROPILOT

    ZEROPILOT Well-Known Member TFO Supporter Platinum Supporter

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    Welcome.
    You've read not to try to house two together, right?
    Two Russians will be a handful......Several hands full.:)
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