Considering keeping a tortoise? You're about to encounter one of the more difficult reptiles to care for, as their large size and picky eating habits present a challenge to even the most prepared caretakers. However, tortoises have the potential to be interesting and long-lasting pets, so the possible reward is worth the risk.
What you'll need
Things to look for
Because tortoises can live for up to 100 years, it's difficult to spot problematic tortoises when shopping. Tortoises die slowly, so the chances that you'll spot a sick one are slim. However, try to look for breathing problems through the nasal passages and nasal discharge. If you can spot these symptoms, avoid the given tortoise. A healthy tortoise will be bright, walking sturdily on the tips of its legs, have clear eyes, no discharge, no flaking of the shell, and a pink tongue and mouth. Also, don't be tempted to buy an exotic breed, especially if this is going to be your first tortoise. These breeds require special care, and can die without warning. In general, look for captive bred tortoises (a common rule for all reptiles). Tortoises that have been captured and ship are prone to shock and illness.
Due to their large size, tortoises are generally kept outdoors in an enclosed garden. It's important to make sure that the enclosure is strong, and it also helps to bury your fences. Some tortoises tend to burrow, and many fences won't keep them in for long. When building a pen for your tortoise, it's vital to ensure its safety by clearing out all dangers, including poisonous plants, deep waters, and sharp objects that may be ingested.
Things to avoid
Tortoises are explorers by nature, so there may be instances where they try to climb steps or other obstacles. This may cause them to fall on their backs, resulting in untimely deaths, so it's important to make sure that there's nothing hindering your tortoise's path. You should also have the tortoise checked immediately for parasites and have it quarrantined for a short period of time to make sure that its healthy. Also, try to keep from grouping a number of males together, as tortoises are agressive by nature and prone to fighting.