Looking into adopting our first turtle/tortoise... question - Paw Talk - Pet Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-19-2006, 08:58 AM Thread Starter
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Question Looking into adopting our first turtle/tortoise... question

I had a turtle as a child and he was a favorite pet for many years. I am know looking into getting one as a pet for my children. I have 3 boys ranging in age from 6-18mo. The caretaker of the turtle/tortoise would mainly be me, but I would also include my 6yo.

I am in Central NY so our climate is also something to keep in mind. I would like to have it live indoors but have an area available to go outside during the day, weather permitting.

I want to know what species are best for families, if there is such a species or if they vary much at all.

My sister, who works at PetLand, was trying to talk me into getting a Sulcata Tortoise but after researching them I think they really get to big and I would not have the area that they would need to thrive.

Is there any smaller tortoises?

I have a pretty large yard. (I could fit aprox 3 of my 16,000 sq ft houses on the property.) But I wouldn't want to take any chances getting such a large breed.

Also can you let me know what the general differences are between turtles and tortoises?

Can you name specific breeds so I can do research before making a decision?

Thank you for your responses!
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-19-2006, 12:28 PM
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Russian tortoises are one of the smaller tortoises. They usually get no bigger than 9 inches or so.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-19-2006, 01:41 PM
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Turtles (and tortoises in particular) are not really good pets for households with small children. Kids like to hold and touch them, and most turtles don't really like to be touched or held. Herps in general are always a risk for Salmonella poisoning, there are way too many instances of it infecting small children from something as innocuous as merely washing the turtle's food bowls in the kitchen sink. There are other, more insidious zoonotics, like Cryptosporidium to consider when bringing a herp into a household with a child, especially one as young as 18 mos.

I kept and bred tortoises for years, and still do at work. If someone thinks they are easy animals to care for, I think there is every possiblility that they aren't taking proper care of them. Especially in temperate areas of the US. Tortoises in particular have very specific dietary and lighting requirements that most people are unable or unwilling to meet. Not meeting those need results in deformities of the bones and shell, and I have seen some horrific deformities in captive tortioses.

That said, if I was going to pick one species for your circumstances, I'd go with a Reeve's Turtle (Chinemys reevesii). They can be found as captive raised youngsters, are relatively easy to keep and can be very interactive with their keepers. They are small, usually around 5-6" in captivity and semi-aquatic. You can comfortably keep an adult or two in a 55 gal aquarium ...which is doable for most people. A youngster is going to need something smaller to start out with, and gradually move up to the bigger tank. But it's never going to be an animal you want to take out and handle.

If you absolutely have to have herp, I'd recommend a Bearded Dragon or Leopard Gecko. They can be held, are pretty easy to keep and more suitable for the family you described.

Here are a couple of Turtle/Tort sites you can check out:

California Turtle and Tortoise Club

The Tortoise Trust

Here is a good all around Herp site that can help you do some research:

Mellissa Kaplan's Herp Care Site


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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-19-2006, 03:21 PM
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I second the they arent a pet for children under age 9. They are very delicate creatures. Turtles tend to bite.
While Tortoises are calm and wont bite you. As far as small tortoises I recc Russian Tortoises.

But be cautioned you will need regular vet visits, home made foods, and stay away from comercial foods. They carry high phosphorous, low calcium and most contain Soy which is toxic. They need leafy greans, worms, and small Calcium supplemnts, lots of UV light- preferable natural. They need a large area to move around. Becarefull what type of flooring you use in their tank. Try adopting a Tortoise from a Tortoise from a rescue before you purchase one.

You will need to supervise your child at all times while playing with Tortoise, and teach your children how to properly care for and treat your Tortoise. They live a minimum of 35 years so be prepared for that!

They need to be soacked at least once a week in shallow warm water - this aids in properly hydrating your tortoise and in getting your tort to defficate regularly.

As long as you do this and speak with your local herp vet you should be good.

Best Wishes and good luck if you need help with anything you know where i am.

Signed Your Online Herp Vet Tech!

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-19-2006, 03:28 PM
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BTW- I have 2 sulcatas.

They are rescues they will get to be about 100lbs by age 15yrs longest living one is about 150yrs.

Desert Torts are hard keepers and get about 50lbs they live about 85yrs.

Russians can live 35-50 yrs usually about 10 lbs when fully grown.

I dont recc Turtles.

I dont recc things with teeth. One bite and instinct for a kid is to smack the thing and you could seriously injure or kill the reptile such as lizards, geckos, dragons etc.

Also you child can injure them just by picking them up to hard. They are delicate.

You also need to make sure No other pets have access to any of your Tortoises- no matter how much they seem to love the tort. I haveseen to many that after 20-30 yrs together the tort becomes a chew toy!

Also one more thing to mention your Tort can not breath if its on its back. Make sure your tort is alway belly on the ground!!
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bearded dragon, bigger tank, chew toy, food bowl, food bowls, leopard gecko, regular vet, vet tech, vet visit, vet visits

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