Keeping Tortoises As Pets
Tortoises: The Hermannís Tortoise is a colourful and
robust species of Mediterranean Tortoise which hails
from Southern Europe. They are friendly, hardy, and
stay small to medium size. Hermannís Tortoises are
herbivores with a natural diet high in fibre and
calcium, low in fat and protein. When young, they
have an attractive black and yellow patterned shell.
Keeping a Tortoise is a long-term commitment - they
can live for 100 years or more.
Even though it is believed that tortoises are
able to live outdoors and are capable of surviving
the various weather conditions, the limited period
of warm weather and sunshine in the UK is not really
enough for the tortoise to maintain correct
husbandry. Therefore tortoises should always be kept
warm and awake and never put through hibernation
without seeking professional advice. A good indoor enclosure can consist of a
cardboard box with a UV light and heater at one end
to create a temperature gradient. Ideally though, a vivarium consisting of thermostatically controlled
heating and UV light will create a much more
realistic and natural environment.
Types of Hermannís Tortoise
There are two subspecies - Western and Eastern.
The Eastern Hermannís are the most common and tend
to grow larger than the Western variety.
Hermannís Tortoises are vegetarian, feeding on
plants, greens, and flowers in the wild. The perfect
Tortoise diet should be low in protein and fat but
high in calcium and fibre. Note Ė lack of calcium is
the most common nutritional problem in Tortoises so
it is recommended that a calcium supplement such as
Nutrabol be given at every meal. It is also a good
idea to provide weekly supplements of vitamins A,B,C,
Your Tortoise will enjoy eating dandelion leaves,
endive, carrot, kale, watercress, and dark greens.
Complete dry foods are available that provide a high
source of fibre. A cuttlefish bone should be kept in
the enclosure Ė an additional source of calcium.
Looking after your Tortoise
Exercise & Entertainment:
Hermannís Tortoises are a very active species that
enjoys digging and climbing. It is important that
their enclosure is big enough for them to move
around freely and explore. Clean water should always
be available and your Tortoises may enjoy a regular
bathing too as it helps regulate their body
temperature and speeds up their metabolism.
In general Tortoises do not like being handled
although there will be times when you need to do
this out of necessity. Gently grasping either side
of its shell and avoiding sudden movements is the
Attempting to breed Tortoises is a huge undertaking
requiring a serious degree of time and commitment.
Always seek expert advice to be sure of the
Tips for a happy healthy Tortoise
Hermannís Tortoises can live quite happily on their
own Ė it is not crucial that they have a Tortoise
companion Ė but as a rule, avoid mixing Tortoises of
vastly different size and donít keep males together
as they tend to be aggressive and fight. Females can
live together happily, as can one male with 2 or 3
females. One male and one female together is not
recommended Ė the male can become overbearing and
aggressive. Never mix different species of Tortoise
as this can transmit parasites and organisms that
certain species may not be immune to.
For a healthy life, your Tortoise needs the
- A diet high in calcium and fibre, low in fat
- Plenty of space to explore and forage
- No extreme or sudden changes in temperature
- Water and feed bowls cleaned daily
- Some type of indoor enclosure for colder
- Regular dietary supplements of vitamins and
This is a complicated procedure and you should
ideally seek professional advice before you
hibernate our tortoise. However before you even
consider hibernating your tortoise, it should be of
sufficient size and weight and be showing no signs
of illness to cope with the stress of hibernation.
Your tortoise should be fasted for 2-3 weeks
before hibernation (though fresh water must be
provided). Your hibernation box should be well
ventilated and be made of rat roof materials. The
temperature should not fall below 2-3 C and not
above 8C (optimum temperature is 5C). You should
check your tortoise at regular intervals during
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