Getting a Tortoise

Getting a Tortoise

Reptiles originate from hot, dry deserts or habitats with very specific requirements for their survival.

 It is very important when considering whether to keep a reptile as a pet, that you understand what sort of controlled environment you will need to provide, and that you learn as much as you can about how to care for them beforehand. At PAWS we have the knowledge and expertise to guide you in caring for your reptile. On these pages we have provided some general information and guidelines about caring for the most popular reptiles, however, we advise that you come and visit us in the shop for a chat about your reptile's specific needs.


The most common species of tortoise available in the UK is the Horsefield tortoise, the Hermann’s tortoise or the Spur-thigh tortoise. They can reach a size of around 20cm and have specific requirements regarding their care. You should also carefully consider their lifespan. Tortoises can live between 50 to 80 years, which is a long time to be responsible for a pet. If you do decide to opt for a tortoise and can provide all their requirements, they are ideal for the first-time keeper as they are hardy and do well in our climate.



Do not keep your tortoise in an old fish tank or small wooden vivarium. They need an open-topped container with plenty of ventilation.

The guide for cage size for an adult tortoise should be 182x60x60cm, but the bigger and more varied the habitat provided, the better.

Adults can go outside on warm days, but should have a shady area where they can retreat. Outside accommodation should be escape and fox-proof, situated away from toxic vegetation and have a basking area and opportunities to climb. The enclosure should be fully covered to protect the tortoise from airborne predators.



Cover the floor of the cage with a suitable substrate such as aspen. Create an interesting environment with a mixture of substrates. Provide shelter and an area for climbing.


Create a gradient by heating both ends of the cage to different temperatures so the tortoise can choose its preferred temperature.

Heat should be provided using spotlights and or UV lamps. Visit our shop for further advice on the heating products that are suitable for your tortoise.

The warm end of the cage should be heated to a daytime temp of 30°C-32°C and 18°C-20°C at the cool end. Night temps can be dropped to around 19°C.



Tortoises require UVB lighting to help them absorb and utilise the calcium in their diet. This light should be left on for 12-14 hours per day.



Maintain low levels of humidity. A damp habitat can increase the risk of breathing problems.


Diet & Feeding

Tortoises are herbivores so feed them a varied diet including dark greens, dandelions, weeds, kale, herbs and dried grass. Ensure that you wash all food before feeding it to your tortoise and remember not to pick plants from the roadside.

Tortoises also enjoy fruit including apples, berries, grapes, kiwi and pear. Fruit should be kept to a minimum, as high sugar content in the diet is dangerous.

We stock commercial pellets in our shop, which provide your tortoise with all the nutrients required for a healthy, balanced diet.




This is a complicated procedure and we advise you to come and speak to us for advice about how to prepare, and safely hibernate, your tortoise.

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