We're frequently asked the following questions by people new to tortoises.
Q: Can I keep different species of tortoises together?
A: We never recommend mixing different species of tortoises. Different species have different husbandry requirements. In addition, different species of tortoises have different resistance and susceptibility to disease.
Q: Do I need to provide UV lighting for my tortoise?
A: We recommend UV lighting for all species of tortoises. Some species require more than others. We use mercury vapour bulbs, which provide UV and heat. We also expose our tortoises to natural sunlight as much as possible.
Q; Should I supplement my tortoise's diet?
A: We alternate between whole food supplements such as Repashy Super Veggie or TNT Tortoise Nutritional Supplement and vitamins such as Herptivite plus Ca with D3. During the summer when our tortoises are regularly exposed to natural sunlight, we provide whole food supplements and vitamins with Ca and no D3. We supplement more frequently when our tortoises are young, or when our adult females are breeding.
Q: Do tortoises carry salmonella?
A: Like all reptiles, tortoises can carry salmonella but it's uncommon. We recommend thorough hand washing after handling your tortoise.
Q: Do I need another tortoise to keep my tortoise company?
A: Tortoises are generally solitary animals, although some species thrive in small groups. Other species can be very territorial, especially after reaching sexual maturity. Research your particular species of tortoise before adding a companion and always quarantine new arrivals.
Q: How big should my tortoise enclosure be?
A: Bigger is always better when it comes to tortoise enclosures. Ensure your tortoise has ample room to roam and sufficient space for a temperature gradient.
Q: Do I need to provide water for my tortoise?
A: Tortoises drink a copious amount and should always have access to fresh drinking water. We also soak all our tortoises frequently to ensure they're well hydrated.
Q: My tortoise passed some white liquid. Is this normal?
A: The white, creamy liquid passed by tortoises is called urates and is perfectly normal. Urates should be watery and creamy. If it's gritty or contains white stones, it's a sign your tortoise is dehydrated.
Q: Where can I get cactus for my tortoise?
A: We buy cactus pads from a Mexican restaurant and from a Latin American grocery store. Thrifty Foods, Whole Foods, The Urban Fare and Farm Boy occasionally stock cactus as well. Alternatively, you can grow and harvest your own. We feel that cactus is a perfect food for all species of tortoises and we feed it daily.
Q: What are the best species of tortoises with respect to temperament and ease of care?
A: Choosing what species of tortoise to keep is a matter of personal preference. In our opinion, size should be the first consideration because larger species require a lot more room as adults. All species of tortoises have excellent temperaments, although some are more outgoing and interactive. Red foots and leopards make excellent pets because they're very hardy and enjoy human interaction. However, due to their size they require much bigger enclosures. If space is a concern, we recommend Hermann's and Russians. They have similar requirements and stay relatively small. We personally prefer star tortoises for their beauty, manageable size and peaceful nature. However, they're more delicate and much more expensive than most species. We find tortoises have endearing personalities and are more like dogs than reptiles!
Q: What species of tortoise is better suited for a colder and dryer climate?
A: We don’t feel a species should be chosen to fit a particular climate; being in Canada, our tortoises spend most of their time indoors anyway. All our tortoises benefit from being outside during the summer, regardless of which province they're in. It’s more important to ensure that the tortoises’ particular care requirements are met while they’re housed indoors for the majority of the year.
Q: How will my tortoise be shipped?
A: We ship our tortoises and other reptiles Canada-wide with Air Canada Cargo, WestJet, Harbour Air and Reptile Express. Reptile Express is a professional reptile shipping company that provides same day or overnight service. We've shipped countless numbers of tortoises of all ages and other reptiles over the years with 100% success. Shipping across Canada is approximately $125.