Animal Care

Tortoises and Terrapins

tortoiseThe Right Pet for You?


Your tortoise or terrapin deserves the best care possible so make sure you are also prepared to:  

  • check that the person who looks after your pet when you go on holiday knows all about the care needed, including maintaining suitable lighting and heating

  • accept that tortoises can live for more than 50 years, and terrapins for 30 years

  • find out what size your tortoise or terrapin will grow to - for instance, the African spurred or sulcata tortoise is a giant that can reach 80 centimetres!

Don't oil or scratch your tortoise's shell as this can block the pores, attract dirt and increase the risk of infection. Also, watch out for shell deformities and other health problems, which can be caused by an unbalanced diet or insufficient UV lighting.

Read the RSPCA Tortoises and Terrapins Pet Card for essential information about your pet.

Points to consider before you choose your pet:

  • research the species of animal you plan to keep.
  • each species will have special needs
  • take care to avoid acquiring a wild-caught animal
  • prepare a stable home
  • find out about the humidity, temperature and light levels needed for the reptile being kept and, therefore, the most suitable type of equipment
  • make sure you have the appropriate food and know where to obtain further supplies
  • find a vet with experience of treating the species of animal you plan to keep.

Points to consider after you acquire your pet:

  • maintain a stable home for your pet
  • use thermometers and thermostats to monitor and maintain a stable temperature range
  • a secure outside enclosure for the summer months
  • maintain good hygiene using appropriate products and ventilation, whilst minimising the disturbance of the animal.

African Spurred Tortoise

Download the African Spurred Tortoise Care Sheet from the RSCPA Website

Spur-thighed and other tortoises

Download the Tortoise Care Sheet from the RSPCA website. 


Download a Terrapin Care Sheet from the RSPCA website


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