General > Tortoises for beginners
Tortoises for beginners
Details a starter reptile keeper needs to know about tortoises
The best species to start with would be a Hermanns, Spur-thighed or Horsefields tortoise (with a slight hesitation on the latter - ask for reasons!!). ALL tortoises need heating and lighting, there are no species that will live in the garden or in the living room without additional forms of heat / light. They cannot be “hardened off” as some shops will tell you. Do not provide a heat mat, this will cause health problems. Use a ceramic heater (as opposed to a bulb that gives off light - ceramic will provide heat day and night), full spectrum and UVB lighting. Other shops will quote cheaper, but it will be with a heat mat or bulbs (usually with a coloured one for night - highly stressful, coloured bulbs still give off far too much light for night time) and will not include all the other bits and pieces your tortoise will need.
These species are purely vegetarian and only grow to a maximum of around 10” (do not buy a Sulcatta (Spurred tortoise) or a Leopard tortoise – they grow too large). As youngsters they are fine in vivaria or tortoise table (maybe as large as 48” long), but will need more substantial living area when adult – a sectioned off room or heated outhouse is ideal.
Basic Tortoise starter kit £200 (Qualifies for special offer of a Horsefields Tortoise at £140)
36x18x24 Flat pack Melamine vivarium with toughened glass doors. (please see note below regarding vivs v tables)
Pearlco 100w ceramic conical heater. (or similar)
Pearlco Ceramic Holder (or similar)
Pearlco Small reflector (or similar)
Heat resistant cable
Habistat Temperature thermostat
Reptiglo 5.0 UVB fluorescent light tube 30”
Arcadia Control (Starter) unit.
Sorry we do not believe in selling the usual light bulb system for the average beginner and keepers with smaller collections. This system is much cheaper but often results in poor health for the tortoise and eventual death. Keep this in mind when comparing costs with other shops. In no way use a heat mat for tortoises. Make sure that a competitors vivarium is toughened glass – the glass will be stamped!
36x18x24 Ready built Melamine vivarium with toughened glass doors – Add £25
Habistat Pulse Proportional Thermostat – add £10
Habistat Pulse Proportional Thermostat with night time drop facility – add £20
Reptiglo 2.0 Full spectrum fluorescent light tube 30” – Add £14
Arcadia Control (Starter) unit. (to control and start the Reptiglo 2.0) Add £16
Things you will also need
Nutrobal Multivitamin powder
Calypso Cricket dust (Calcium carbonate)
Various pieces of décor, hides etc. (massive selection available)
Water bowl (massive selection available)
Food bowl (massive selection available)
T-rex Bio Clean disinfectant.
Zoo-med Wipe-out 3 hand cleaner
Tortoise Starter Kit with tortoise table £160 (don’t forget £140 Horsefields tortoise deal)
Tortoise table Flat Pack Melamine.
Exo-terra Wire Clamp lamp (Small)
Exo-terra Ceramic 150w
Habistat Temperature thermostat
Reptiglo 5.0 UVB fluorescent light tube 24”
Arcade starter unit.
Upgrade Lighting system to include Reptiglo 2.0 + Starter Add £30
Upgrade to more accuracy (Habistat Pulse Prop. Thermostat) Add £10
Upgrade to auto night time drop (Habistat Pulse prop Day/Night) Add £20
All supplements required for diet (Nutrobal and Calypso) Add £10
All other purchases at normal retail prices.
Most customers do not buy the standard basic package, and an average spend here at Coast to Coast with the full set-up and a tortoise is around £500-550.
It is important to house a hatchling in a 36x18x24 as babies will not feed well in a larger one. This size will last for around a maximum of 2 years and then a purchase of the next size up is required. The cost at the moment is around £130 for flat pack and £160 ready made for a 48x18x24. It must be kept in mind that at a later stage a much bigger vivarium or tortoise table will be required, many keepers use a modified shed.
For further care details click this link:
NB It is important to note that we provide both vivaria and tortoise tables for the customer to decide what they want to provide for their tortoise. There is a very blinkered approach by some keepers, especially on the internet, that vivaria cause health problems for tortoises. We are not the usual run of the mill reptile shop, owner Kevin Stevens has kept and bred many species for around 30 years, was President and Journal Editor of the International Herpetological Society, has had papers published worldwide, lectures at all levels (including veterinarians) and above all puts the welfare of all animals before profit. With all this experience we cannot whole heartedly agree with the "vivaria will kill tortoises" approach and believe that most health related problems and deaths of tortoises is not just down to this factor. More a combination of incorrect other husbandry issues such as temperatures, lighting requirements, diet, supplementation etc etc . Sometimes this is not a popular stance from the "ant- vivaria" brigade, but its one that is not taken from the lack of understanding of tortoises (as they will try to make out), but merely a different view point made from perhaps a unique position of dealing with thousands of tortoises and their owners every year. We hope this makes our position clear in this highly emotive subject, we will supply either a vivarium or tortoise table, based on a balanced understanding of tortoises, their owners and both their needs - but will never be against vivaria for tortoise keeping.
Coast to Coast Exotics, 124 North Road, Darlington, County Durham, DL1 2EJ. Tel 01325 283756 Fax 01325 255060.
Opening hours Monday to Saturday 10 til 5. Sunday 11 til 3.
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