8 ways to keep your tortoise happy
Tortoises are calm and patient animals generally known for their capability to live for a very long time. They’re not overly fussy about their living conditions but they do have a couple of requests regarding their habitat and upkeep. The animal experts at Maxi Zoo know exactly what these are:
1. Terrarium size
In order to calculate the minimum size of a tortoise terrarium, take the shell length of an adult animal (e.g. 22 cm) and multiply the number by 5. This gives you a side length of 110 cm which, when multiplied, equates to a surface area of 1.1 square meters. You should add at least 30% more space when keeping two animals together.
A tortoise should be given the opportunity to do a bit of digging and climbing. So be sure to provide sufficient earth as well as some branches and stones. Plants are not essential but they do enhance the general ambience inside the terrarium. To be on the safe side, you should rinse new plants before putting them into the terrarium since they might have been sprayed with insecticides.
3. Climate zones
Tortoises are cold-blooded animals so their body temperature adapts to the environment. If they become too warm they have to be able to find a new spot. Make sure that there are warmer and cooler areas by using different ground surfaces, a heat mat and a spotlight.
4. Splash time
Even tortoises need a little pool. To prevent the possibility of drowning, the water should not be deeper than half of the shell height. If a tortoise falls onto its back, there must be some stones or branches in the pool for it to hold onto and be able to right itself. The water temperature should be between 22 and 24 degrees.
In addition to a spotlight, which should provide the illuminated area with a temperature of 30 degrees to a maximum of 35 degrees, you will also need general lighting. Splash-proof fluorescent tubes that are suitable for use in moist areas are the most popular choice. It is an advantage if the lamp’s light spectrum is as similar to the sun’s rays as possible.
6. Outdoor terrarium
Tortoises love to be let outside during the warm summer months. However, simply fencing off a piece of lawn is not sufficient. Make sure that there are areas of different temperatures and that it is always possible to find some shade. A sufficiently high fence is particularly important because, even if they seem slow, tortoises are talented escape artists.
The most frequent illnesses are caused by draughts, too little UV light and an insufficient supply of lime and vitamins. The cleanliness of the terrarium should not be underestimated either: the pool and damp earth are ideal breeding grounds for worms and bacteria. So change the water daily and scrub out the pool.
8. Food supply
A varied supply of food protects against illnesses. Alongside pre-packed food which you will have to fall back on in the colder months of the year, nature offers a large choice of healthy treats in the form of dandelions, daisies, clover, grass and fresh leaves. Home-grown lamb’s lettuce, endive and iceberg lettuce are also suitable. Food supplements are especially important because a fully balanced diet is rarely achieved. Every meal should be accompanied by a lime compound and a pinch of mineral salt (vitamins and trace minerals) is required twice a week.
Call into your local store today to discuss your reptile’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts.