Land turtles and tortoises can make great first reptile pets. They are reasonably easy to care for, and live a long time. It is not uncommon for people to come in and say that “This tortoise was my parents for 50 years and now I am caring for it”. In San Diego they are best kept outdoors for most if not all of the year as long as they have an enclosure where they are safe from predators. Tortoises do well with lots of sunshine, fresh air and a good balanced diet. Some tortoises are shy, while others are outgoing, but all are fascinating and fun to watch. Most tortoises are herbivorous but their dietary needs vary depending on the species. The box turtle for example, is omnivorous and requires both insects and plants in their diet. No matter the species, it is highly recommended that all land tortoises eat a balanced pelleted food for a significant portion of their diet.
Common signs of illness for all turtles include:
any change in behavior
eye discharge or eye swelling
failure to grow properly
abnormal shell growth
not eating or decrease in appetite
constipation or loose stools.
If any of these signs develop please make an appointment to have them evaluated.
Common land turtle and tortoise diseases include:
upper respiratory infections
metabolic bone disease
shell and beak growth abnormalities
reproductive problems (retained eggs)
thermal burns from heat lamps
bite wounds from predators or pets
cloacal or hemipenal prolapse
Here are some helpful topics regarding turtles and tortoises:
MYCOPLASMA IN REPTILES
CLOACAL PROLAPSE IN REPTILES
EAR ABSCESSES IN TURTLES AND TORTOISES
METABOLIC BONE DISEASE
COCCIDIA PARASITES IN REPTILES
If you would like to support a San Diego non profit dedicated to turtle and tortoise care or to adopt an tortoise please visit:
SAN DIEGO TURTLE AND TORTOISE SOCIETY.
To find out more about the species you are interested in enjoy reading these care sheets provided by the San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society:
BOX TURTLE CARE SHEET
CALIFORNIA DESERT TORTOISE CARE SHEET
AFRICAN DESERT TORTOISE (SULCATA) CARE SHEET
RUSSIAN TORTOISE CARE SHEET
HERMANN'S TORTOISE CARE SHEET
RED FOOTED/YELLOW FOOTED TORTOISE CARE SHEET
Water turtle care is more challenging than that of land turtles and tortoises, as caring for the water quality is essential. These turtles are commonly kept in indoor aquariums or outdoor ponds, but all need proper water filtration systems and frequent water monitoring and maintenance. These turtles are a delight to watch and can make great pets. Like land turtles and tortoises, water turtles can also live a long time, and can be very personable. Water turtles are omnivorous and should eat fish and insect protein, as well as vegetables. It is highly recommended that all water turtles eat a balanced pelleted food for a significant portion of their diet.
Common disease in water turtles include:
vitamin A deficiency
bacterial and fungal shell and skin infections
To find out more about water turtle care, please enjoy reading these care sheets provided by the San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society.
WATER TURTLES IN OUTDOOR PONDS
WATER TURTLES IN INDOOR AQUARIUMS