Caring for a Turtle or a Tortoise

Have you thought about adding a new pet to your family? Inviting a turtle or a tortoise into your home can make for a versatile, yet enjoyable pet. Turtles and tortoises are both reptiles, but require different things in regards to their habitats and overall needs. You will want to meet the specific needs of your pet in order to afford it the best quality of care.


Turtles are aquatic reptiles. Turtles and tortoises are both from the classification Testudines or Chelonii. Their shells are typically flatter than a tortoise's, and their feet are clawed,  webbed-like flippers, for swimming. The lifespan of a pet turtle can be 20 to 30  years or longer. A group of turtles can be referred to as a dole or bale. Turtles shed the scales on their shells by sunning or by scraping the shell against a hard surface.

Habitats for Turtles

  • A large terrarium with water and land (or gravel) areas.
  • A heat lamp.
  • Diet of fish, insects, and some plants ( omnivores.)
  • A filter to keep the water clean.
  • Various plants.


A tortoise is a terrestrial, or land, reptile. They generally live on land, and unlike turtles, do not have the ability to swim. Their feet are rounded and flat, to help them as they slowly walk along the ground. They can live over 30 years and possibly up to 100, making for a long-term commitment. Solitary by nature, you will rarely find them in a cluster, called a creep. When you pet a tortoise, they do have the ability to feel through the nerves located in their shell.

Habitats for Tortoises

  • A large space for continued growth.
  • A natural-looking environment.
  • Accessibility to an outside pen with a rock for sunning.
  • Natural light or UVA/UVB bulb for 10 or more hours per day.
  • A large inside enclosure with heated rock and light.
  • Good ventilation.
  • A mulch substrate bottom.
  • Cave or shaded area.
  • Herbivore diet.

Whether you choose a turtle or a tortoise, you are sure to be enriched. They are curiously delightful as pets and will likely be with you for a very long time. To assist you with choosing your new pet reptile, or to see what products we offer, contact our experts. 

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