This is a little bit of a change from my normal posts but as I get A LOT of questions on here, Instagram and especailly on Tumblr about my babies I thought I'd do a quick FAQ post. So if you're one of those overly obsessive animal people (like myself) hold on for a thrill ride of tortoise questions and answers.
This is Sid and he is about 7/8 years old. Sid was my first ever tortoise which I got in January of this year after years and years and years of begging my parents for a tortoise. He has metabolic bone disease which means as a baby he was fed the wrong food and given the wrong care which has resulted in a deformed shell. The bottom of his mouth is also deformed as his previous owners did not cut his beak, therefore the bottom of his mouth didn't get chance to grow. Sid will always be slighting disabled but he is a lovely tort. And without being over the top about this - he is the love of my life.
And this is Domino. He is my newest baby and he literally is a baby. When I went to pick him up, I was told by his owner that he was 2 years old. He is not 2 years old, after much research we have found out that he is actually younger than a year old. He is absolutely tiny and very shy because of how young he is. Thankfully I received him before any damage could be done to him. At the moment, we aren't actually sure if Domino is male or female as he is too young to sex but...hey he looks like a boy!
Where are they housed?
All tortoises should be housed in a tortoise table. Vivariums (like those you would buy for a snake or chameleon) are not recommended housing because it restricts their airflow. Also tortoises don't understand the concept of glass so it stops them getting confused - and trust me they get very confused and anxious. Unfortunately Sid is in a viv at the moment because I am lacking in money until my next loan comes in, he was bought with the viv but that was back when I knew nothing about tortoises. When I get the money I will be building a massive two story table and I cannot wait!
Are they housed together?
No they aren't. Purely because Domino is too young and Sid is quite boisterous when he want's to be. Regardless of Sid's attitude if Domino ends up being female they will only ever meet two weeks out of the year because I don't want hundreds of tortoise babies running around here, and if he is actually male they won't be able to be housed together because they will fight. Tortoises are actually solitary creatures and in the wild would not meet another tortoise apart from to have sex.
What do they eat?
This is a super important question especially if you are looking into getting a tortoise, my main advice is DO NOT LISTEN TO WHAT PET SHOPS TELL YOU. They know nothing, they are only there to make money, they do not care about the welfare of your animal - I have had to find this out the hard way. Pet shops will recommend pellets or fruit and veg. Neither of these are suitable and can have serious effects on tortoises. In the wild a tortoise would eat various edible weeds and flowers. This is the diet that my two are now on, after much fussing and changing they are finally becoming healthy little boys. I'm even growing plants in my room so that they always have fresh food available.
Aren't they boring?
No. One of my friend's recently said "I don't get why everyone likes tortoises, they are boring". They are not. At all. They have their down days, like everybody else. Some days I don't even see them because they are sleepy animals but as soon as you get them out of their enclosures they go crazy. Running around and hiding and climbing. They are so much fun to watch and so friendly. Sid always comes for a snuggle or a sunbathe. Also they listen to you talking to them, and you can tell because they lift up their little heads and stare at you. It's so cute. They are not boring. They are also super super fast. A common misconception is that they are really slow but that's just a myth. I can be outside with them and if I stop watching them for one minute I will lose them.
Can they feel inside their shell?
Yes. They can feel about the same as you can when you run your finger over a finger or toe nail. You can tickle them on their shells and they will wiggle about. So cute.
Are they expensive to keep?
Yes. If done properly. I would say in the last 6 months I have spent about £1000 all together, but that was for setting them up properly. Once all set up they don't cost much, just the price of soil and lights which isn't much really. They are honestly worth the price.
Did you get them from a pet shop?
No neither. And I would advice NOBODY to buy from a pet shop. They tend to be imported into england from various other countries which means the tortoise won't be in the best of health. It's more likely to become ill within 6 months and die, which is not what you want. Always buy from a registered breeder - it's also cheaper to do so anyway. Do not conform to pet shops!
Do they shed?
Yes. All reptiles shed their skin. Fortunately for a tortoise it's not as gross and they shed in stages so you're less likely to notice it, in comparison to a snake where they shed all at once and ew it's so mingin.
If Domino turns out to be a girl would you ever breed them?
It's a possibility for the future. If Sid is in better health then yes I wouldn't mind. I know a lot of my friends who have come round to meet the tortoise children and have left begging for a baby tortoise of their own! It's hard not to love them and just think of how tiny their babies would be. Super cute.
Why do you like tortoises so much?
If you ever met my two, you'd know why. They're both so lovely and cheeky. Always wanted a cuddle or to play. Chasing eachother up the garden or nipping at my toes. They are like dogs only fluffy. I can't imagine being happy now without them. I just love them so much. They're my little children.