10 Best Tortoise Pet Species (A Complete Guide)

Are you looking for a unique pet that is low maintenance and full of character? Tortoises make excellent pets, as they are easy to care for and are surprisingly full of personality. If you’re considering adding one to your family, you may be wondering which tortoise species is the best choice for you. This article aims to provide an in-depth guide on the 10 best tortoise pet species, from their size and lifespan to their dietary needs and temperament.

I’ll also provide you with tips on what to consider when choosing the right pet tortoise for your home.

10 Best Pet Tortoise Breeds for Beginners

Tortoises are some of the most beloved reptilian pets in the world, thanks to their slow but steady personalities and long lifespans. They’re also incredibly varied, with different species having different needs. From size and lifespan to care requirements, here’s a look at ten of the best tortoise pet species:

1. Red-Footed Tortoise

red footed tortoise

Red-Footed Tortoises are full of personality and charm. Native to Central and South America, the red-footed tortoise can reach lengths of up to 13.5 inches, and live for up to 50 years. They’re omnivores, so feed on a variety of plant and animal matter. Red-footed tortoises have a fairly mild temperament.

You should provide plenty of space so that your tortoise can explore and exercise comfortably. Additionally, providing hiding spots and ample substrate will ensure your tortoise feels secure in its new home.

With proper care and attention, you can enjoy having a Red-Footed Tortoise as your pet for years to come.

2. Leopard Tortoise

Leopard Tortoise

Found in Africa, the leopard tortoise is the fourth largest species in the world, growing up to 18 inches in length and living for up to 80 years. They tend to be more active and alert than other tortoises.

Leopard tortoises are herbivores, meaning they eat mostly vegetables, such as plants and grasses, along with some fruit. They require a large enclosure with plenty of space to roam and explore, along with access to both indoor and outdoor spaces so they can get the natural sunlight they need.

The temperature in their habitat should remain relatively consistent; it’s best if the environment is kept at 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day while dropping slightly lower at night time. Additionally, Leopard tortoises require access to UV light in order to keep their shells healthy.

3. Sulcata Tortoise

Sulcata Tortoise

Also known as the African spurred tortoise, the sulcata is the third largest species in the world, growing between 24-30 inches in length and living for up to 70 years. They’re primarily herbivorous, but they do need some animal protein as well, and they’re usually quite calm and easy to handle.

4. Greek Tortoise

Greek Tortoise

The Greek tortoise is a small pet tortoise species. These tortoises grow to be between 5 and 8 inches in length and in captivity they live to be between 50 and 60 years old. They have a docile personality, and they need a diet of leafy greens and vegetables. They also need access to a shallow pool of water for soaking.

5. Pancake Tortoise

Pancake Tortoise

The pancake tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri) is a unique species of tortoise with a flat, disk-like carapace. These tortoises grow to be between 5 and 7 inches in length and they live to be between 25 and 30 years old.

Caring for a pancake tortoise starts with understanding its dietary needs. Pancake Tortoises should eat a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits such as cabbage, carrots, apples, and other leafy greens. They also enjoy eating high-fiber grasses like timothy hay or Bermuda grass.

6. Indian Star Tortoise

Indian star tortoise

The Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans) is native to India and Sri Lanka. This species has become increasingly popular among pet owners and turtle enthusiasts alike, due to its attractive shell patterning and gentle demeanor.

Indian star tortoises can grow between 7 to 12 inches in length. They can live up to 35-80 years in the wild, while in captivity they can live for about 25-30 years. Indian star tortoises are primarily herbivores, and they’re known for being quite shy and retiring, so they’re not the best choice for families with young children.

7. Hermann’s Tortoise

hermanns tortoise

Hermann’s tortoises are a species of tortoise native to southern Europe and North Africa. The average lifespan of Hermann’s tortoises ranges between 50-100 years, depending on the care they receive. In captivity, with proper housing and nutrition, Hermann’s tortoises can live up to 80 years while in ideal natural environments they can live up to 100 years or more. The oldest recorded Hermann’s Tortoise was 110 years old.

The size of Hermann’s tortoises varies depending on geographic location, but typically range from 7-10 inches in length and weigh between 7-9 pounds when fully grown. They have an oval-shaped shell with a yellowish-brown or black background with patterns highlighting the brown or black patches and streaks in various shades of gold and yellow.

Their small size makes them ideal for pet owners who live in apartments or homes with limited space. They’re primarily herbivores and are easy to handle.

8. Marginated Tortoise

marginated tortoise

Found in the Mediterranean region and parts of Asia, the marginated tortoise can grow between 12-15 inches in length and live for up to 100-140 years. With its attractive, distinctive patterned shell and penchant for exploration, the Marginated Tortoise is sure to make an interesting addition to any home.

In the wild, these tortoises feed on a variety of grasses, flowers, herbs, succulents, and even small insects. When kept as pets they should be fed high-quality commercial food supplemented with fresh vegetables such as kale or collard greens as well as occasional fruit treats like apples or melons. Marginated tortoises have a fairly calm temperament, so they’re a great choice for families with children.

9. Hingeback Tortoise

hingeback tortoise

The Hingeback tortoise is a unique species of reptile that is native to central Africa. It can be easily identified by its distinctive “hinged” shell, which opens up when it feels threatened. Despite its small size, this tortoise has a long lifespan and can live for over 50 years with proper care.

Hingeback tortoises are typically no larger than 6-10 inches in length and weigh between 1.7-2.4 pounds. They are omnivorous reptiles and their diet should consist of plant matter, mushrooms, worms, and seeds.

10. Speckled Cape Tortoise

Speckled Cape Tortoise

Native to South Africa, this unique species of tortoise has a distinctive speckled pattern along its shell and head, which helps it blend in with its natural environment.

The speckled cape tortoise can reach 2.4 to 4 inches in length. They’re quite hardy and easy to care for when given the right environment, which includes temperatures between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

The lifespan of speckled cape tortoises is quite impressive; they can live up to 80-100 years in captivity when cared for properly. Their diet consists mostly of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers that are naturally found in their habitat.

How to Pick the Right Pet Tortoise For Your Home?

Having a pet tortoise can be an exciting and rewarding experience for the entire family. The key to owning a successful tortoise is making sure you pick the right one for your home.

Here are some tips on how to find the perfect pet tortoise for your family:

  • First of all, size is an important factor when selecting a pet tortoise. Some species can grow quite large, making it difficult for them to fit in most homes. Smaller species such as Hermann’s or Greek Tortoises usually stay between five to ten inches long and are much easier to manage.
  • Consider the type of environment you’ll provide for the tortoise. Different species have different needs when it comes to temperature, humidity, and lighting which must be taken into consideration.
  • You should also consider how active the tortoise is; some breeds may require more exercise than others. Additionally, research what type of habitat they need and if it’s something that you can realistically provide for them on a daily basis.
  • What type of food will best suit your tortoise’s diet? Some species prefer vegetables while others need insects or other proteins as part of their daily meals.

Final Thoughts

The best tortoise pet species for a beginner varies depending on their individual needs and capabilities. Experienced tortoise owners can opt for larger species like Sulcatas or Redfoots. On the other hand, new owners should start with smaller, hardier species like the Speckled Cape or Hermann’s Tortoise.