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So you’ve visited petMD®’s new Reptile Center to researched what type of reptile fits your lifestyle, and you have decided that a tortoise is your reptile of choice. Welcome to reptile ownership! Now, it’s time for the next step — what do you need to make sure your new pal has a happy and healthy life as you embark on your reptile care journey.
Tortoises are not a cheap pet. You must invest in their care, which includes: a properly sized tank, a heat source, correct light source, appropriate bedding, as well as food and water dishes, and of course food.
Light and heat sources are so important. If they do not have the proper light and heat, it will cause a host of problems. There are a number of heating and lighting fixtures to choose from at PetSmart®’s Reptile Purchase Center.
As you can see, I have multiple devices to do this including a heating pad that attaches on the side of the tank in addition to a ceramic fixture dome that holds my heat lamp as well as the proper light for my particular tortoises.
Deciding what type of heat source you need can also depend on the type of cage you are using. I am really enjoying the ExoTerra line of cages. They are stylish, easy to clean and fit my tortoises perfectly. I bought the one below for Daytona, and am still in the process of decorating it. My other tortoise babies are in a large ZooMed habitat.
Speaking of decorating your new friend’s home, make sure to choose an appropriate substrate. You can also use live plants and stylish water dishes like the one below to make the cage visually appealing for you and healthy for your tortoise.
Now that you have their cage set it’s time to eat! Just like each species of tortoises have their own heating, humidity and lighting requirements, they also have different food requirements. That said overall, most tortoises diets are plant-based, but of course, just like dogs, not every fruit and vegetable is good for your tortoise, so make sure you check out the Reptile Care Center for more advice.
For my guys, I usually serve a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, including a variety of organic lettuces, cactus pads and common household and outdoor plants. In fact, I have a ton of plants growing both inside and outside of my house for the tortoises. I may go a little overboard with it, but variety helps make sure my tortoises are getting all the appropriate vitamins and minerals they need. I also use a sprinkle-on supplement.
If you do decide to be crazy like me and plant your own vegetables for your tortoise to eat, make sure they are free of pesticides, or if you do use them, follow the harvesting directions closely.