Tortoise Trust Web — Newsletter articles

Egyptian tortoise-turtle: dimensions, diet and rules for the care of insects in a terrarium


In this very extensive online library, we present a selection of reference articles from our Newsletter, and a number of additional articles specifically produced for this website. We hope this information will provide both enjoyable reading and will help you better understand your tortoise or turtle’s needs. Feel free to link to these pages from your own site. New articles are added regularly, so check back from time to time for updates. These articles are grouped together by subject to make browsing easier. Do not forget to check our CARESHEET section as well, which now includes printable versions of basic information on many species, and a variety of posters, notices and other resources in downloadable PDF format. Please note that where veterinary treatmens and/or drug dosages are discussed these are for general educational purposes only. If you have a sick tortoise, consult a qualified veterinarian. We make this information available because in our opinion, the better informed keepers are, the better they are able to recognise serious illnesses and the better able they are to evaluate veterinary treatments which may be suggested.

Information on individual species, housing, lighting, heating, safety, buying tortoises, ponds and filters for aquatic species, substrates and diet., etc., subdivided into several sections for ease of reference.

Information on egg incubation, housing and rearing hatchlings, etc.

Exploitation around the world — and some efforts to help.

The classification of tortoise and turtle species, and field reports, etc.

Comprehensive set of articles covering most common (and some uncommon) health issues that every keeper should be familiar with. Also includes Veterinary Contact Index.

Essential information everyone should know.

A series of in-depth articles on nutritional management and feeding in captivity. You wil find a lot of information here on how to avoid nutritional problems for a wide variety of species and the correct use of vitamin and mineral supplements, etc.

Russian Tortoise Care Sheet

Alert male Russian tortoise

Photo Credit: Tyler Stewart

Russian Tortoise ( Testudo [ Agrionemys ] horsfieldii )

A popular pet tortoise, Russian tortoises are one of the most readily available tortoise species. They are small, making them easy for most people with limited space to keep. They are also feisty, eager to eat and more active than some other tortoises. When allowed to burrow, Russian tortoises also have one of the highest tolerances for temperature extremes. They are one of the few species that can be kept outdoors in Las Vegas, Nev., year round. These factors make Russian tortoises attractive for new tortoisekeepers and a fun tortoise for seasoned veterans.

Russian Tortoise Availability

Most Russian tortoises are imported into the United States. Compared to the number of imported tortoises, captive production of this species is relatively low. You should assume that most adult or subadult Russian tortoises for sale are wild-caught (imported). Captive-bred babies are rarely raised to adult size and sold at the low prices that these imported Russian tortoises sell for.

Photo Credit: Tyler Stewart

Russian tortoise hatchling.

Russian Tortoise Size

Russian tortoise hatchlings measure about 1 inch in carapace length. As they mature, they reach a maximum length of 8 to 10 inches. Females are normally a little larger than males at full size. When females are about 6 inches long, they are large enough to begin producing eggs. Russian tortoises are almost always imported as young adults between 4 and 5 inches in carapace length. These tortoises are large enough to handle subprime conditions during shipping but small enough to fit many in a fixed-size shipping crate. Russian tortoises larger than about 6 inches long can be difficult to find.

Russian Tortoise Life Span

Russian tortoises can live more than 40 years. Raised on a lean, high-fiber diet, captive-raised animals in low-stress environments have higher life expectancies.

Russian Tortoise Caging

The preferred method for raising Russian tortoises is an outdoor enclosure in a warmer climate. Pens for one or two adults should be at least 2 feet by 4 feet. Enclosure walls should be set into the ground 6 to 12 inches to prevent the tortoises from digging under the sides, and they should be 12 inches or higher aboveground.

Russian tortoises are burrowers. They tend to dig into corners and against objects. Placing large rocks under the soil in the corners helps prevent tortoises from digging out. In higher or lower temperatures, they attempt to go underground to insulate themselves from the extremes. Building Russian tortoises underground hide boxes that maintain more stable temperatures helps to keep them from burrowing too much. Shaded grassy areas that get regular water help to keep smaller tortoises cool.

Photo Credit: Tyler Stewart

Russian tortoises hatchling to adult.

Russian tortoises are sure to try to eat any plant accessible to them in their pens. They prefer wide-leafed plants and weeds. They really do not eat grass unless they are out of options. Check all plants in the enclosure to ensure they are safe.

Russian tortoises housed indoors can be caged in large plastic bins, stock tanks or small plastic pools. One to two adults can be kept in an enclosure measuring at least 5 square feet, with sidewalls 8 inches or higher. More space is much better. Babies can get away with smaller housing. Tortoises kept in small enclosures become restless and spend much of the day trying to get out of the enclosures.

Many different substrates can be used. I prefer a combination of dirt or sand mixed with peat moss or fine coconut coir. Using only sand makes running around somewhat difficult for the tortoises. Their feet sink with every step. Mixing soils helps to solidify the foundation.

I also like to include a few large, flat rocks in an indoor enclosure. They help file down the tortoises’ nails and give them a clean surface for food. Russian tortoises also enjoy climbing, so try to provide an enclosure that gives them that opportunity.

Russian Tortoise Lighting and Temperature

Russian tortoises living outdoors and allowed to dig burrows are very capable of taking care of themselves as far as temperatures are concerned. I keep them outdoors in Las Vegas year round without additional heat sources. Winter lows are in the 20s (degrees Fahrenheit), and summer highs near 120 degrees.

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Russian tortoises can handle high temperatures only if they can get underground where it’s cooler. Keeping any tortoise on an outdoor patio or anything aboveground when it’s over 100 degrees is too hot for them. Russian tortoises are most active when temperatures are between 60 and 90 degrees, but they remain active during the cooler parts of the day in midsummer, or they sleep underground in a burrow.

Russian tortoises hibernate underground during the winter if they are allowed some time to dig a burrow before cold temperatures set in. In Las Vegas, my tortoises bed down at various times during the fall and come out of hibernation in mid-February.

Indoors, Russian tortoises can be maintained at normal room temperatures: 68 to 80 degrees. They should also have access to an area heated by an overhead light. This spot should be in the 90- to 100-degree range. Like most diurnal, herbivorous reptiles, they need a UVB light in their indoor enclosures to help them properly process the calcium in their diets. These tortoises can handle nighttime temperatures into the low 50s without a problem.

Russian tortoises do not need to hibernate to be healthy, so tortoises kept indoors and maintained at stable temperatures will never skip a beat while winter winds below outside. Keep lights on 12 to 14 hours a day, and turn off all light and heat sources at night.

Photo Credit: Tyler Stewart

Russian tortoises hibernate underground during the winter if they are allowed some time to dig a burrow before cold temperatures set in.

Russian Tortoise Food

Russian tortoises are enthusiastic eaters, and the destruction they wreak on the plants in most outdoor enclosures is proof of this. They prefer broadleaf weeds and eagerly eat almost any leafy greens or vegetables offered to them. We regularly use spring mixes, which have several leafy ingredients in them. We supplement with kale, collared greens, turnip greens and any of the darker lettuce types. Variety is the key, and for their size, these tortoises do some serious eating.

I plant many different types of safe, leafy weeds in their outdoor enclosures in the spring. Dandelions are one of my favorite food sources for all tortoises. It might also be useful to partition off parts of the enclosure to allow plants to recover, and rotate the tortoises’ access to the separate areas. We also plant grasses, clovers and various other safe plants throughout the enclosure. If given full access to all available space, they will almost surely eat the plants down to nothing by midsummer.

Photo Credit: Tyler Stewart

Russian tortoises should not be handled with any regularity. It is best to leave them alone.

Russian Tortoise Water

Russian tortoises can have small water dishes in their outdoor enclosures. We use shallow, low sided dishes that are glazed to make cleaning easy. Cleaning needs to be done on a regular basis, as most tortoises tend to soak in their dishes and “dirty” them while they’re in there. I provide water bowls during the hottest parts of the year, but I don’t during cooler times. Tortoises living in areas with regular rainfall drink from puddles and leaves. If they live in areas with prolonged dry periods, such as Las Vegas, offering them water helps to keep them hydrated.

When Russian tortoises are housed indoors, I prefer not to have standing water in the bowls because they tend to defecate in them while soaking. In shallow water, the tortoises usually begin drinking immediately and flush their systems at the same time. They can be soaked outside the enclosure in shallow water once or twice a week for 15 to 30 minutes to get them fully hydrated.

Babies and juveniles tend to dry out much quicker than larger, more established tortoises. Because of this, I briefly soak baby Russian tortoises in shallow water up to three times a week, for 10 to 15 minutes, whether they’re housed outdoors or indoors.

Russian Tortoise Health

For best results, purchase an alert, active Russian tortoise with bright, clean eyes, or buy one from a reputable source that will guarantee at least a live arrival. These tortoises can suffer from most common reptile health problems, but parasites and respiratory infections are probably the most common.

Although one of the more hardy tortoise species, wild-caught Russian tortoises usually have internal parasites. These parasites are not a huge burden on the animals in the wild, but when tortoises are confined to a small area and they endure the additional stresses of importation, the parasites can build up their numbers to levels potentially deadly to the tortoise. Taking a fresh fecal sample to a reptile veterinarian can get you some idea of the types of parasites present, their numbers and the drugs needed to treat them. Russian tortoises can also be prone to respiratory infections if they are kept in cool or wet enclosures. They need to be able to dry out, particularly if temperatures are low.

Russian Tortoise Handling and Temperament

Contrary to what many sellers tell customers, tortoises generally should not be handled with any regularity. They are easily stressed when overhandled, and children tend to drop them when spooked. These stress factors can lead to a decline in a tortoise’s activity levels and health. Adult Russian tortoises are generally more resistant to handling, but all tortoises should be handled carefully. Avoid pinning them down or restricting them. Allow them to carry on with their intended ways.

aldabra tortoise for sale

The Aldabra giant tortoise, from the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles, is one of the largest tortoises in the world . We have just a few super cute CAPTIVE BRED baby Aldabra tortoise for sale available in hatchling, 6-month-old well started baby, and yearling sizes! (also known as Aldabra tortoises for sale ).

Our Aldabra tortoises are perfect scute, bowling ball smooth, excellent specimens that we are extremely proud of. These cute 3-6″ baby Aldabra tortoises are eating a variety of calcium dusted greens, mazuri tortoise chow, opuntia cactus and are doing fantastic. Though we offer baby Aldabra tortoises for sale, we always recommend the 6-month-old well started Aldabra tortoises for sale or yearlings over the more fragile baby giant Aldabra tortoise hatchlings for sale. The 2nd larger tortoise on the planet, the Aldabra tortoise is fairly easy to care for when compared to most other species of tortoise for sale . When choosing any tortoise it is important that you purchase a healthy animal from an experienced tortoise breeder. Captive bred Aldabra Tortoise babies for sale should always be purchased over a wild caught adults when possible. Our Aldabra Tortoises for sale are top notch and ready to ship to you via FedEx Overnight in heated or cooled, insulated shipping boxes and come with our live arrival and full 7-day health guarantee . One shipping charge covers up to 4 tortoises. Be sure to check out our Aldabra tortoise care section for more information on caring for these amazing giants!

The best place to buy a baby Aldabra tortoise or any tortoise for that matter is Tortoise Town!

Remember when searching for any tortoises for sale, including a new baby tortoise for sale, tortoise town is your source for the best tortoise for sale , baby tortoises for sale , baby turtles for sale, and adult turtles for sale including aquatic turtles for sale, of any turtle store anywhere. Looking for other turtles for sale, chameleon for sale, gecko for sale, or reptiles for sale? Be sure to check out our sister site, CB reptile.

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Aldabra Tortoise for sale

Looking for a baby Aldabra tortoise for sale?

We’ve got some beautiful captive-bred baby Giant Aldabra tortoises for sale here at Tortoise Town!

If you’ve got the room, and the time to invest in learning and providing proper care, an Aldabra Giant tortoise for sale could be for you. You see, an Aldabra tortoise will be the most amazing reptile you will ever own. Be sure to check out our fantastic Aldabra tortoise care sheet in our Aldabra tortoise care section. In addition to the Aldabra, our Aldabra tortoise care section also features information on Galapagos tortoise for sale.

baby Aldabra giant tortoise for sale comes to us from the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles.

Tortoise town has just a few super cute CAPTIVE BRED baby Aldabra giant tortoise for sale available in hatchling, 6-month-old well started baby, and yearling sizes! (also known as Aldabra giant tortoises for sale).

Our Aldabra tortoises are perfect scute, bowling ball smooth, excellent specimens that we are extremely proud of. Secondly, these cute 4-6″ baby Aldabra tortoises are eating a variety of calcium dusted greens. In addition, our Aldabras enjoy mazuri tortoise chow, squash, zucchini, a variety of weeds and Opuntia cactus.

A giant Aldabra is one of the largest tortoises, and animals in the world

Besides offering baby Aldabra tortoises for sale, we also offer and always recommend the 6-month-old well started Aldabra tortoises for sale. In addition to babies, our customers often choose yearlings over the more fragile baby giant Aldabra tortoise hatchlings for sale. As the 2nd larger tortoise on the planet, an Aldabra tortoise is fairly easy to care for when compared to most other species of tortoise for sale. All of our baby tortoise for sale including our Giant aldabra tortoises come with full health guaranteed!

Be sure to build a proper Aldabra tortoise habitat before your baby Aldabra tortoise for sale comes home!

An outdoor enclosure is highly recommended when conditions allow this. The above dimensions apply but the more space that can be provided the better.

Giant Aldabra Environment:

Giant Aldabras seems to tolerate a large range of conditions but a warm stable environment is recommended. An Aldabra Giant tortoise for sale should have a hot spot of at least 100F and a cool section of no less than 75F. Most importantly, a heated hide box should be at least 82F. You can attain this by fixing a heat emitter to the ceiling of the hide box. Lamp wattage of the heat source is going to be determined by the insulation of the hide box and the surrounding temperature. A UV source is a must if you cannot provide daily exposure to natural sunlight. For this a self-ballasted mercury vapor lamp is recommended.

Baby Aldabra Tortoise Size

The average weight of an adult male Aldabra tortoise is approximately 550 pounds, although there is one at the Fort Worth Zoo that weighs in at nearly 800 pounds.

Baby Aldabra Tortoise for sale – Life Span of the gentle giants

Aldabra tortoises are long-lived lived gentle giant tortoises for sale, some giant Aldabra tortoises for sale having reached more than 200 years of age. According to history, the oldest known Giant Aldabra in captivity at the time of this writing is 170 years old. Consider that your new baby Giant Aldabra tortoise will start off small but grow anywhere from 1-6 inches per year! All of the baby Aldabra for sale at our tortoise farm are captive bred!

Giant Aldabra tortoise Diet

Aldabra tortoises are mostly herbivores however they are also opportunistic feeders. In nature they eat grass, leaves, plants, stems and other tasty weeds. They will also feed on insects and dead animals, even their own kind. In captivity they will eat grass, flowers, cactus pads, all sorts of leafy greens and commercial tortoise food. They also like fruit and melons.

Aldabra Tortoise Giant tortoise – natural habitat (Geochelone gigantea)

In nature, you’ll find Aldabra Giant tortoises are found on the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles. Interestingly, the Aldabra one of the largest animals as well as tortoises in the world. To date, the largest tortoise on record being the Galapagos tortoise – Geochelone nigra). Aldabra tortoises have a varied habitat on their home and introduced islands, ranging from mangrove swamps and coastal dune areas to grasslands and scrub forests.

Baby Aldabra tortoise breeders

As baby Aldabra tortoise breeders, we specialize in all ages and sizes of the Giant Aldabra tortoise. Aldabras are hatched at just about 3″ in size, and our hatchling size starts at 4″. Tortoise town highly recommends purchasing a well started baby Aldabra tortoise since they are easier to care for. Aldabra tortoise breeders near me require a ton of space to both house and breed these giants. Aldabra tortoises are considered one of the giant tortoise for sale breeds. Like most large tortoise for sale, Aldabras need plenty of food, and space to roam. Galapagos tortoise for sale are also super huge, however, require special permits. For even more species of tortoise for sale, check out our sister website CB Reptile!

Additional information

captive bred hatchling, 6 month old well started baby, yearling, juvenile 12″+

Housing Tortoises Indoors and Building Custom Enclosures

Jose Luis Pelaez / Getty Images

While keeping a tortoise indoors is not the preferred option, you can select the right type of enclosure to make it more acceptable. Learn what tortoises need and how you can best provide it.

For all captive animals, it is ideal to provide a home as similar to the animal’s natural environment as possible. This is especially true for tortoises—including living outdoors. Tortoises are generally best kept in outdoor pens in climates similar to their natural environment. Aim to keep tortoises from arid climates in arid areas and tropical tortoises in tropical areas. If this is not possible, setting up an outdoor pen for at least part of the year is the next best choice.

Except for certain circumstances (hatchlings, ill tortoises, tortoises not healthy enough to hibernate), keeping tortoises indoors is the least desirable option. One of the biggest problems with indoor housing is providing adequate floor space. Remember that most tortoises get quite large, so a correspondingly large enclosure is needed. In addition, you’ll want something that is relatively easy to clean and that gives you the ability to set up different temperature zones for the tortoise.

Avoid Aquariums

A glass tank is not the best option for indoor housing. For the majority of turtles, even the largest glass tanks are just too small and have poor ventilation. Big tanks are also hard to maneuver and clean. Tortoises need lots of floor space for roaming around, but the sides just need to be tall enough that the tortoise can’t climb over (whereas aquariums tend to have tall sides). Unless the tank is very large, providing a proper temperature gradient for a tortoise is too difficult in a glass tank. In addition, tortoises seem to prefer non-transparent enclosures—they probably feel very exposed and vulnerable with glass-sided tanks, and often spend a lot of time trying to push through the transparent glass as well.

Turtle Tables

A homemade wooden enclosure is usually the preferred method for indoor housing. You will see these called turtle tables or tortoise tables. Essentially, these are a large wooden box with lots of floor space and fairly short sides. Typically, UVA/UVB lighting and heat lamps can be suspended over the wooden enclosure to provide light and heat needs. Some sort of shallow water supply is also necessary.

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You can build a tortoise table yourself or you can buy them ready-made. Here are some ideas for building or modifying your own turtle table if you must have your tortoise indoors:

  • Tortoise Trust: This simple but ingenious design uses plant trays to line the enclosure with varied substrates.
  • This very basic small enclosure is meant for hatchlings, but this gives you a good general idea about constructing a wood home.

Other Options

For smaller tortoises, some owners use plastic storage containers. These have the advantage of being quite lightweight (so they are easy to clean) and they come in pretty large sizes. However, they do have tall sides, so ventilation may become an issue. Cutting down the sides or drilling holes for ventilation are options to modify them.

Crested Gecko Care Sheet

Crested geckos are popular display animals.

Gina Cioli/i5 Studio

Crested Geckos ( Correlophus (Rhacodactylus) ciliatus )

Crested geckos are originally from New Caledonia (a group of islands between Fiji and Australia). Crested geckos are ideal reptile pets for beginners, with simple, easy- to-meet requirements. Because crested geckos are primarily tree dwellers, they make outstanding displays in naturalistic vivariums.

Crested Gecko Availability

Crested geckos were once considered among the rarest lizards in captivity. Today crested geckos are bred in large numbers and have become standard in the pet industry.

Crested Gecko Size

Both male and female crested geckos reach a moderate size of 4 to 4.5 inches snout-to-vent length (SVL), and 8 inches in total length. Crested geckos are sexually mature when 15 to 18 months of age, and at a weight of approximately 35 grams.

Crested Gecko Life Span

Under proper care, plan for your crested gecko to live 15 to 20 years.

Crested Gecko Housing

Baby crested geckos are best housed in large plastic terrariums or in standard (20-inch) 10-gallon reptile tanks with a screen top. An adult crested gecko should be housed in a 20-gallon tank with screen top. Larger tanks will allow for better displays. In areas with moderate to high relative humidity, crested geckos will fare well in screen cages. These tanks have the advantage of being light and easy to clean. You can keep one male and several female crested geckos together. Male crested geckos may fight, particularly when in the company of females, and should not be kept together.

Gina Cioli/i5 Studio

Crested geckos can live 15-20 years in captivity.

Crested Gecko Lighting and Temperature

Reptiles are ectotherms (body temperature varies with environmental temperature), so it is important that you provide the proper temperature range for activity and feeding. A thermometer is essential for accurate temperature measurements.

Crested geckos like temperatures of 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. It can drop to the low 70s at night. In most areas this temperature range will be reached during the warm months of the year without additional heat. In summer, place crested geckos in a cool room if the temperature exceeds 87 degrees. During the winter crested geckos will tolerate night drops into the 60s.

The easiest way to provide heat is a low-wattage incandescent bulb or a ceramic heat emitter in a reflector type fixture placed on the screen top over one side of the tank so that the temperature of basking areas (branches) reaches the desired range. You must always keep one side of the tank unheated so that crested geckos can choose a cooler area to regulate their body temperature. You can also use a subtank reptile heat pad or heat tape under one side of the tank regulated by a thermostat.

If you have live plants in your vivarium additional light can be provided by a fluorescent bulb running the length of the tank. Crested geckos tend to rest in foliage or shelters during the day and are active at night. They do not require UVB light if fed a diet that contains Vitamin D 3 . Turn off lights at night.

Crested Gecko Substrate

Crested geckos spend most of their time above ground so a variety of substrates can be used. For simple maintenance purposes, reptile carpet is attractive and easily cleaned. For a more naturalistic look, a peat-moss-based soil mix that doesn’t contain perlite will work well. Coir (coconut fiber pulp now sold in reptile stores as compressed bricks) mixed 50 percent with soil is a good choice for growing live plants.

Crested geckos feel comfortable resting in foliage and like to climb on wood. Good landscape materials include cork bark sections for vertical and ground level shelters and climbing areas. Dried wood branches angled across the length of a vivarium provide resting and activity areas. Do not over clutter the tank. Leave plenty of open space. Live or artificial plants in combination with wood and bark will provide the security crested geckos need to rest in the open and add a decorative element to the display. Good plant selections include small Ficus benjamina, Dracaena spp. and Pothos.

Crested Gecko Food

In this author’s opinion, the complete powdered diet marketed as Repashy Superfoods “Crested Gecko” Diet has played a key role in making these among the most popular of lizards kept as pets, because it excludes the need to feed live insects. Crested geckos thrive when fed this diet exclusively, which has been tested with thousands of geckos for more than 10 years. The diet is mixed with two parts water and offered in shallow dishes three times a week as much as these geckos will eat at a feeding. The diet is allowed to remain 24 to 36 hours before removal.

In addition to fruit, crested geckos relish insects and some hobbyists choose to offer these as either a primary diet or as supplementary diet. Crickets now sold in the pet trade are the best choice and you should select a size where length of cricket equals width of head. Crickets should be lightly coated with a vitamin/mineral supplement that contains calcium, vitamin D3 and a complement of other essential vitamins and minerals. They should be offered three times a week as a primary diet or once a week as a treat/supplement to the Crested Gecko Diet.

Crested Gecko Water and Humidity

Water should always be available for crested geckos in a shallow water dish. These geckos also require a relative humidity of at least 50 percent and preferably 70 percent. In dry areas the tanks should be lightly misted nightly or a cool air humidifier placed in the room. Inexpensive hygrometers (relative humidity gauges) for use with reptiles are now readily available in the pet trade.

Crested Gecko Tails

In nature, crested geckos will usually lose their tails and end up with a tiny pointed tail nub. “Taillessness” is a normal condition for adults crested geckos. In captivity, hobbyists like their crested geckos with tails, but this requires keeping animals individually and pampered to prevent tail loss.

Crested Gecko Handling and Temperament

Newly purchased crested geckos should not be handled, but first allowed to settle in for three to four weeks to let them adjust to their new environment and to make sure they regularly feed. When you start handling your crested gecko, make handling sessions short, no more than five minutes. Baby crested geckos tend to be flighty and can be injured in the course of handling. For this reason you should wait until they are at least 3 inches SVL before handling. Crested geckos seldom bite and when they do it is of little consequence. A quick nip and let go.

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