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Pet tortoises have become increasingly popular, and many people are choosing them as pets. It can be a rewarding experience, especially if you are a beginner owner who takes the time to learn about their care. Here at Kapidolo Farms, we will discuss common beginner mistakes when caring for a pet tortoise. If you want to learn more, keep reading.

Lack of Research

Many beginner tortoise owners make mistakes due to a lack of research about their pet’s health, well-being, and needs. Inadequate housing and incorrect food items are common issues. Learning about these mistakes will help you avoid them and ensure your pet tortoise lives a happy and healthy life.

Rushing into Ownership

One of the biggest mistakes is rushing into buying a tortoise without being prepared for its care. Tortoises, like other pets, should come from local breeders. Avoid buying from any available source without verifying their credibility. Visit the breeder to see the living conditions of their tortoises and ask questions about their diet, enclosure conditions, UVB, humidity, and temperature needs.

A proper enclosure is crucial for a tortoise’s health. Ensure that the enclosure provides enough space, appropriate substrate, and environmental conditions. Tortoises need UVB lighting, proper humidity levels, and a temperature gradient to thrive.

Feeding your tortoise the wrong food can lead to health problems. Research the specific dietary needs of your tortoise species. Generally, tortoises need a variety of leafy greens, vegetables, and some fruits. Avoid feeding them processed foods or items that are toxic to tortoises.

Not Seeking Expert Advice

If you are a new owner, it’s important to seek advice from experts. You can find reputable breeders like Kapidolo Farms or join tortoise forums where you can interact with experienced owners and trusted breeders. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and learn as much as you can about your tortoise’s care.

Purchasing Your Tortoise From General Pet Stores

Nutritious Tortoise Weeds, including nettle and dandelion, from Kapidolo Farms.

Avoid purchasing tortoises from pet stores. Most pet stores sell tortoises that are caught in the wild, particularly Russian tortoises. These tortoises are often not in the best health and may be sick or infested with parasites. Additionally, buying from pet stores supports the continuation of their practices, which often involve capturing more tortoises from the wild.

Pet stores are primarily focused on making a profit and may not have the best interest of the animals at heart. They might provide outdated or incorrect advice, and their products can be unnecessarily expensive or even harmful to tortoises.

While there are some exceptions, such as specialized exotic pet shops, you should still exercise caution. Assess the condition of the pet shop and ask about the origins of their pets. It’s generally best to obtain your tortoise from reputable local breeders, such as Kapidolo Farms, to ensure you are getting a healthy and well-cared-for pet.

Making Mistakes With Your Tortoise Enclosure

Premium small-cut Wheat Grass from Kapidolo Farms.

As a beginner, you might make mistakes when creating an enclosure for your pet tortoise. Tortoises cannot live in small cages like hamsters or mice; they need ample space to roam and explore their surroundings. This movement is crucial for their digestion and overall well-being.

A 20-gallon tank is insufficient for a tortoise, regardless of its size. The minimum enclosure size should be at least six times the length and width of your tortoise. For example, if you have a 6-inch tortoise, it needs an enclosure that is at least 3 feet by 3 feet.

A pet tortoise enclosure should be at least the size of a small room. Providing enough room for your tortoise to roam helps mimic their natural environment and supports their digestive process. Ensuring ample space is essential for the health and happiness of your pet tortoise.

Temperature and Substrate Mistakes

Kapidolo Farms proudly presents their Tortoise Grass, a nutritious delight for your chelonian friends.

Maintaining the right temperature is crucial for the health of your tortoise. You shouldn’t be careless when monitoring and maintaining the enclosure temperature. It’s essential to use a thermostat in the enclosure to monitor the temperature accurately. You must consider the following aspects:

  • Warm Side
  • Cool Side
  • Basking Spot
  • Nighttime Temperature

Adjust these temperatures according to seasonal changes to ensure your tortoise remains healthy. Avoid letting the enclosure get too cool at night, as tortoises prefer a dark and warm environment. Careful temperature monitoring can make the difference between a healthy pet tortoise and a sick one. A product like this one can help significantly with keeping the enclosure at the right temperature at night.

Choosing the right substrate is vital for your tortoise’s well-being. Avoid using sand, as it can cause respiratory irritation. Similarly, steer clear of wood pellets, wood shavings, and paper bedding because they tend to be too dry and are not typically found in a tortoise’s natural habitat.

Dietary Mistakes

Many beginner tortoise owners make the mistake of purchasing inappropriate food items for their pets. Instead of relying on supermarket foods, which are not ideal for regular consumption, consider natural options.

Suitable Food Items:

  • Weeds: clover, dandelion, filaree, hawkbit, plantain, sow thistle, wild mustard
  • Garden Plants: rose and hibiscus leaves and flowers, grapevine leaves, mulberry leaves, grass, hay (for temperate tortoise species)
  • Vegetable Garden: squash leaves, sunflower leaves
  • Flower Garden: asters, geraniums, honeysuckle, pansies, petunias

Avoid buying tortoise food from pet stores as they often sell items unsuitable for your pet’s needs. Instead, rely on local breeders like Kapidolo Farms for high-quality tortoise food supplies. You can order food items for your pet tortoise from trusted sources to ensure their diet is both nutritious and safe.

By following these guidelines, you can create a healthy and supportive environment for your pet tortoise, ensuring it thrives and lives a happy life.

Dietary Supplement Mistakes

Kapidolo Farms' Cactus Flour in a fine powder form.

Tortoises need dietary supplements, especially calcium, but it’s important not to overdo it. You should sprinkle a little calcium on their food two or three times a week. Excessive calcium can hinder the absorption of other essential minerals and cause issues like bladder stones.

No Water Source

Tortoises do not get enough water solely from their food. In the wild, desert-type tortoises conserve water by burrowing underground. However, for a pet tortoise, you must provide clean drinking water at all times.

It’s also important to note that the right water container is essential for the health of your tortoise. Many beginner tortoise owners mistakenly believe that any water dish will suffice. It’s crucial to use a shallow water bowl to prevent your tortoise from drowning if it accidentally flips over into the water. A shallow water tray is ideal for this purpose.

Planning to Get a Pet Tortoise?

If you are planning to get a pet tortoise for the first time, avoid common mistakes when caring for it. Choose Kapidolo Farms for your pet tortoise supplies, food, and other dietary items to ensure the well-being of your new pet.

We offer a variety of products and ship orders across the USA. For more information about tortoises and our services, contact Kapidolo Farms. Give us a call at 215-483-7675 or send an email to What are you waiting for? Contact us today!

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