Why A Tortoise Is The Perfect Pet


Now the nights are drawing in, and winter will soon be upon us, our tortoises are starting to prepare themselves for hibernation.  And as I reflect on another summer enjoying my two reprobates, I’d like to share some of the reasons why I think tortoises make the perfect pet.

Tortoises Are Easy to Care For

All pets have their challenges and tortoises are no exception to this. However, tortoises will probably give you fewer headaches than other higher-maintenance pets.  They are easy to care for, don’t require exercising, and their preferred diet is easy to source.  With the correct diet and habitat, veterinary problems are rare.  It does help if you tortoise proof your garden, as they are master escapologists, but that does rather add to their charm!

Mealtime Is Easy

Weeds like this clover are the healthiest diet for a tortoise
Weeds, like this clover, are the healthiest diet for a tortoise

Tortoises are herbivorous and, with the exception of the odd snail, will graze happily on weeds, leafy greens, salad and perhaps a couple of strawberries as a treat.  This means weedkillers and slug pellets should be locked up as they have as distressing an effect on tortoises as they would on you and me.  You can even buy special seed mixes so you can grow a wide variety of plants which tortoises especially enjoy.

Easy to Keep in The Garden

In temperate climates, adult tortoises are quite easy to keep in your garden.  Once again I’ll mention the need for tortoise proofing as they can, and will, climb up or burrow under to escape.  Outdoor pens are another option if you don’t want to tortoise proof the whole garden, just make sure they have somewhere to shelter from birds and the rain.

Indoor tortoises require, more equipment, but it’s still easy to source a tortoise table and UV lamp to simulate the sun. Please remember that whatever your pet shop says, reptile vivariums are not suitable for tortoises.

One of the Family

A tortoise can become one of the family
A tortoise can become one of the family

If you are familiar with all those small traits that make our family dog quite endearing, then you might be surprised to learn that tortoises have them too. Tortoises have unique personalities and these vary between species, but there are also variations within the species’ itself. Some tortoises are friendly and will run towards you when they see you while others are a bit reclusive and will prefer to hide when observed. Some like being picked up while some do not. Most of them will, however, eat directly from hands when you are feeding them.

Tortoises can even hang around with the family in the house so long as there is a safe habitat that they can return to when you are not supervising them. Most tortoises become part of the family and can freely roam around the garden just like other pets such as dogs and cats. Even though their vegetarian diets might make you believe that they might eat all your flowers, the reality is they prefer weeds like clover and sow thistle and leave ornamental plants alone.

Teaching Old Tortoises New Tricks

Obviously, you are not going to be playing fetch with your tortoise but that does not mean that they are unteachable. In ancient Turkey, people taught tortoises to ‘dance’ to music, and you can teach most pet tortoises to come if you call them. However, rolling over is not something you can teach them to do.


Friends For Life

If you decide to add a tortoise to your family, you need to understand that they outlive most pets. They truly can be friends for a lifetime. Some tortoises have a long life span, and most species can live for up to 50 years or more with proper care.

A tortoise can be a lifelong commitment but if you think your family would enjoy looking after a tortoise, then the enjoyment that these fascinating creatures can bring is worth the commitment.