Guidelines For A Tortoise Terrarium

If your tortoise lives inside, you need a tortoise terrarium. Of course, being outside whenever possible gives your tortoise interesting things to do and think about. But sometimes a tortoise has to be an indoor pet. If that's your tortoise, be sure to follow these tortoise terrarium guidelines.

Tortoise Terrarium Size

How long is your tortoise's shell? The terrarium has to be at least five times as long and at least five times as wide.

If you have a turtle or terrapin, measure your pet's shell. The length of the terrarium must be at least five times as long and three times as deep and wide.

Inside The Tortoise Terrarium



Cover the floor of the terrarium with smooth river sand. The sand should be deep enough to let your tortoise dig. That means the sand should be as deep as the shell is long. A female will want to lay eggs, even if they are not fertilized. She will be happy if she has a safe place to lay them.

Give your tortoise water every day. Keep the water dish clean so your pet stays healthy.

Tortoises need calcium to stay healthy. A cuttlebone in the terrarium meets this need.

A tortoise needs a dish for bathing at least once per week. The dish has to be easy to get into and has to be big enough to hold the tortoise. Be sure the water is clean and warm. That means 72-75˚F (22-24˚C).

Be sure there is a hiding place for your pet. Everyone likes a little privacy.

Your turtle or terrapin needs an island for resting and for sunning.

If you can put a glass lid over about 75% of the terrarium, you will protect your tortoise from drafts.

If your tortoise is always inside, you need an ultraviolet light. Ask the pet store for the best light for your terrarium.

If you have room to make a bigger terrarium, you can add things to climb on and explore. Just keep climbing things far enough away from the walls so your tortoise can't get out. Sometimes, put tortoise food up high so your pet will get exercise trying to get it. This will also make things more interesting for your tortoise's brain.

Where To Put Your Terrarium

Tortoises don't like big noises, so choose a quiet spot.

The terrarium should not be in direct sunlight because the tortoise may get too hot.

Keep your tortoise away from drafts.

Secondhand smoke is bad for tortoises just like it is bad for people. Please don't smoke around your tortoise.

Tortoises have an excellent sense of smell, so don't expose your tortoise to strong chemical smells like solvents or strong cleaners.

Be sure your tortoise cannot reach any of your house plants. They might not be safe, and you don't want a tortoise chewing on them.

In The Summer

Sunshine is great for a tortoise, so if at all possible, give your tortoise a safe place to explore outdoors. A tortoise pen is ideal.

More Than One Tortoise?

If you have more than one tortoise, be sure to have enough space. Tortoises don't like company unless they are breeding. Be especially careful to give each tortoise a different place to bask or hide or eat or bathe. That way they won't fight over who gets to do what.

If one tortoise chases the other one, you need two terrariums. The one who is being chased will be stressed out.

If you want tortoises to mate, you can put them together during the mating season, and then separate them after they have mated. Be sure the female has a way to escape from the male if she wants to even when you are hoping they will mate. Keep a watchful eye on the pair so you can separate them if necessary.

Keep it slow and steady.

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