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To view the articles on tortoise care, please visit the main page.  From there you can access links to articles on diet, nutrition, health and housing.

Safe Plants for Terrariums, Vivariums and Paludariums

Please access the above link to view an extensive list of plants that are safe to use in your naturalistic environments.  You will also find resources for identifying safe plants for environments and food items.

 

Northern Michigan Reptile and Amphibian Rescue

Located in northern Michigan, I strive to educate the public on the level of commitment that reptiles and amphibians require, to keep unwanted pets from being released into our environment, and to provide knowledgeable, responsible homes for unwanted pets. Please visit to learn more.

 

About the Author

Is my tortoise lonely?  Should I get him/her a friend?

The idea of a tortoise being lonely for company is a human concept.  The only reason to house more than one tortoise in the same enclosure is because you want to - either for mating, or sentimental reasons. 

For the most part, reptiles are solitary animals, coming together only once a year for breeding purposes.  Even the act of mating can be violent and potentially injurious, with male tortoises showing their wish to mate by ramming, flipping or biting the female.

I do not believe that tortoises can harbor such feelings as loneliness.  They are solitary by nature, and any tortoise that is introduced into their habitat is most often seen as one of two things: A potential mate, or a threat/competition.

Reasons why not to cohabitate:

Premature Pregnancy- Male and Female tortoises will often breed even if the female is younger than the recommend breeding age. This means your female may be at greater risk for egg impaction or other complications. Males often mature faster than females, and a sexually mature male can literally pester a female who may not yet be receptive to death.

Unwanted Pregnancy- As mentioned a male and female will breed, which can result in distress to the female, complications during pregnancy, and unwanted (by the owner) offspring

Spread of Disease and Parasites- Mites can be passed onto other reptiles by simply jumping to a new host. There are parasites and other diseases, that while possibly tolerated by one species, can prove deadly to another.  I have seen countless instances of tortoises being  introduced to another tortoise or group, without a proper quarantine, resulting in the death/illness of individuals or the ENTIRE group.

Unnecessary Stress- Most tortoises don't live in a community type systems and are better off on their own, only coming together to breed. Having more than one tortoise in an enclosure can cause stress for territory, food, and a mate.

Improper record keeping- It's hard to tell which enclosure-mate may have defecated, urinated, produced gritty urates or bladder stones, if there is more than one reptile in an enclosure.

If you do choose to house more than one tortoise in the same enclosure, please take into account the following:

Are the tortoises of the same species/size?  If not, do not cohabitate. Larger tortoises can cause injury and immense stress to smaller tortoises, and different species have different care requirements.  Humidity, diet, and lighting are just a few examples of care issues that vary from species to species.

Is your enclosure large enough to comfortably house more than one tortoise? Lack of space can cause many health problems.  If you cannot properly house one tortoise, do not expect that adding another will improve conditions.

Does your housing include sight barriers to reduce stress/aggression?  Many species, such as Russian tortoises, can be very aggressive.  Adding objects/landscaping to the enclosure that allow for hiding, and making sure that they are not constantly in each other's line of sight can help defray aggression.

Have you implemented a minimum 6 month quarantine period?  Introducing a new tortoise to an established one without a minimum 6 month observation of the new tortoise's health and behavior can quickly prove injurious or deadly to your established tortoise.  It is important to have new tortoises examined by a qualified reptile veterinarian, and tested for parasites.  This is simply and inexpensively done with a fecal examination, and the cost is minor compared to the initial investment of a tortoise.  

Following these steps and taking the above into consideration when deciding whether or not to cohabitate tortoises can save you a lot of heartache in the long run.

 

I know that all of this information can be very difficult for a new or prospective tortoise owner to take in all at once. Getting a tortoise is a lifetime and very detailed commitment. If at any time I can be of any help, or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me at kyryah@hotmail.com and I will do my best to assist you. The only stupid question is the one that you don't ask, and in the end, compromises the life and health of your tortoise.