How to own a pet tortoise


Gumersinda I'm back!

Tortoises are lovely. Which species is yours?
I have a turtle (trachemys scripta) she is about twenty years old and quite big, but sometimes seems to be still growing!

gottawonder Loves her tortoise!

She likely is

many species of turtles grow a little bit for the rest of their lives. Good for you to keep yours going that long. I know they are long-lived, but a lot of people don’t try very hard to give them good conditions.

That’s a map turtle, right? I had one for a while, but I learned a terrible lesson. I got it from someone who moved into a house, and two turles were left there. This one had a hole from a dog bite in its shell.

The hole bugged me that it wasn’t closing up after a year, and it worried me. I thought he might be getting a fungus in there. All of the advice said I needed to keep the turtle drier (I didn’t have access to a herpatologist). So I did. He could climb into a bowl of water to soak, but kept the top of his shell dry. I was planning on letting him swim for a while each day. He was only in the dry area for a day and he died from dehydration, even with a bowl to soak in. Mystefying. I should have left him alone.

My tortoise is a sulcata tortoise. He is huge, about 45 pounds now. He will grow another couple of pounds a year for the rest of his life. We have had him for about 9 years now, and he was 3 when I got him.

We put him outside a lot in the summer in a steel panel dog kennel, and in the winter he is in the house. I don’t keep him in an enclosure; he needs to move and explore. He does sometimes make marks on furniture or the walls, and yes, he craps all over the place about once a week in the winter, and every day in the summer.

My goal is to have a special room for him so he won’t tear up the rest of the house. Interestingly, he isn’t very destructive once he gets used to how the room is laid out. He gets more damaging when you change things, and he challenges the new layout (when we moved, he was horrible, and tried to push down every wall).

I tried heat lamps and UV lights, but he doesn’t stay under them. He prefers to hide in corners, preferably right on top of a heat vent. In nature, they spend their whole day hiding in dens they dig, and they only come out at night to graze, so I don’t know if he always needs a ton of UV. I watch carefully for any signs of soft shell or jaw, but he seems fine. He gets tons every summer.

Gumersinda I'm back!

That story of your marple turtle is terrible =(
Maybe he wasn’t feeling good because of the hole and that’s why he died dehydrated. Anyway, when they are young, they are quite delicate.

Mine is a “red-eared” slider. She is really cute. We found her abandoned in the street: dehydrated, with swollen eyes, a little wound in the shell… I toke her home and decided to keep her with me. This was like 11 years ago or so.

Sulcatas are really big when they grow up!! You will have a pet for many, many years. He looks great in the pic. A special room for him will be really good if you still let him to move and walk around the house from time to time. Usually tortoises need some time to get used to their new habitat, so I guess that’s why he was destructive at first: he was just exploring!


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