Tortoise Supply 101: Must-Have Items To Care For Reptilian Friend

Tortoise Supply 101
Tortoise Supply 101

Just like taking care of any other pets, you must pay attention to tortoise supply when thinking about keeping this shelled reptile. I once tried caring for a tortoise, but back then, I wasn’t well-prepared. So, it was a mess.

Learning from my mistakes, I want to share how to pick top-notch tortoise supply and prepare in advance before deciding to take care of these animals. 

Preparation, like providing the right dietary habits, tortoise health supplies, and offering proper shell care, is crucial to ensure they thrive well. 

We’ll also dive into designing the right habitat space with hydration systems, and climbing structures, and focusing on bedding materials. Hence, your tortoise feels like it’s living in its natural habitat.


Diet and Nutrition
Diet and Nutrition

When I had a tortoise back then, I thought it could just chill in a terrarium with a bunch of veggies I threw in. Turns out, that’s not the case.

There’s a lot to consider when taking care of a tortoise, especially when it comes to their habitat. They need space to move around to maintain physical health. It’s also crucial for them to exhibit natural behaviors, like climbing.

So, for your tortoise to be happily thriving, there are two factors we have to look into, which we’ll learn about together next.

Types of enclosures 

There are two types of enclosures that are generally chosen by tortoise keepers to care for their reptiles, indoor and outdoor. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

1. Indoor Enclosure

For an indoor setup, you can easily control the environment, like temperature, humidity, and heating. This way, you can adjust elements such as hiding spots, varied terrain, or climbing structures to mimic their natural habitat. 

An example of an indoor habitat is a terrarium. I’m sure this approach is suitable for those in apartments but want to keep tortoises.

Unfortunately, this approach also has limitations, like restricting space that could potentially affect their behavioral patterns. Hence, it’s better to choose a spacious location so they can move around more freely.

2. Outdoor Enclosure

Some people prefer outdoor enclosures because of the advantage of natural sunlight, ensuring your tortoise gets enough vitamin D. 

Plus, the vast area provides more freedom for your tortoise to explore its surroundings in a naturalistic way. Being outdoors also mimics their natural habitat, reducing the potential for stress.

However, I do have some issues with this method. There are escape risks if you don’t install proper barriers. Additionally, having an unprotected outdoor habitat raises concerns about predators lurking around.

Importance of temperature, lighting, and space requirements

I think we can all agree that habitat conditions affect the movements and behaviors of tortoises. This has been proven by a study stating that temperature and rainfall impact the movement of tortoises.

So, why does temperature influence tortoise behavior, you ask? Well, it turns out, that tortoises are ectothermic animals relying on external heat sources to regulate their body temperatures.

They fancy warm temperatures, with an average of 85°F to 105°F during the daytime and a bit cooler, around 70°F at night. These temperatures are best provided by direct sunlight, beneficial for boosting vitamin D production and enabling proper digestion. 

These reptiles typically need about 10 to 12 hours of direct sunlight exposure per day. But, I recommend you set up UVB lamps to meet their lighting needs, in case you keep them indoors. 

In addition to that, tortoises love a spacious area to move around, with proper enclosure kits like climbing and burrowing spaces to enhance physical activities. 

I found out a study in 2023 that mentioned wild tortoises living in sloped areas with limited space tend to be more stationary. In contrast, those in habitats around fences used as climbing structures have longer movements.

Diet and Nutrition

tortoise supply

Besides setting up housing with excellent enclosure kits, hydration systems, and naturalistic vibes, tortoise supply includes diet and nutrition which are equally crucial. They help guarantee the well-being and health of tortoises. 

You can provide additional vitamins or supplements to promote stronger bones and healthy shells or simply offer nutritious diets for optimal growth, promoting their reproductive health, and overall immune system. 

To explore the benefits of providing tortoise health supplies, I’ve discussed it in detail below.

Nutritional Requirements 

Don’t follow my path in thinking that just feeding tortoises veggies is enough to maintain their well-being. Your tortoises deserve more! They need supplements like vitamins and minerals to take care of their overall health.

One vitamin you shouldn’t overlook is vitamin D. It’s crucial to ensure the strength of their shells and bones, enhancing calcium absorption. You can also provide calcium through supplementation.

Make sure to give them exposure to sunlight or UVB lamps that aid in vitamin D synthesis in their bodies, promoting robust shell care and preventing deformities.

For reproduction, protein-rich food is a must. It promotes the healthy development of reproductive organs and tissues, enhancing the success rate. Besides, it also stimulates the production of eggs and sperm. If your tortoises lack protein, they may face fertility issues.

1. Special Dietary 

Addressing the challenges of underweight and overweight is no walk in the park. I’ve been through it myself, and it was pretty frustrating. But here, let’s dive a bit closer into it based on my experience, hoping it helps you out.

For overweight tortoises, you gotta whip up some low-calorie but fiber-rich grub. Nothing beats leafy greens for this. To make it less dull for your reptiles, throw in some ‘salad dressing’ for tortoises, commonly available in the market. This stuff works like magic, adding flavor while pumping up the nutrient content.

Now, the underweight tortoises need a high-calorie diet with a dominance of protein and fruits on their plate. You can go for protein-packed pellets as an extra treat alongside the fruits. 

After that, keep an eye on their progress for about 2-4 weeks and see if there are any changes.

2. What Are the Pros and Cons of Automated Tortoise Feeding Systems? 

Lots of tortoise keepers use technology to set up automated tortoise feeding systems. It helps them keep track of their feeding schedule and seems flexible, especially when owners are far away and can’t feed directly. 

Nonetheless, there are a few downsides to this approach. I’ve gathered some in the following section.

1. Pros

  • Convenience: it offers convenience for the owners to manage the time of feeding, especially during tight schedules of work or activities.
  • Proper schedule: Instead of feeding the tortoises manually with no determined plan, this technology helps the keepers ensure a consistent feeding schedule. So, they don’t have to worry about missing a meal.

2. Cons

  • Limited monitoring: I can’t deny that it is super convenient, but here’s the drawback that comes into play. You’ll become reckless in monitoring your pet’s nutrients and overall health.
  • Technology dependence: Knowing that it depends on technology, any power disruption or electricity can lead to feeding issues.

Health and Wellness

tortoise supply
Health and Wellness

And now we come to one important aspect of why we need to provide proper tortoise supply because it influences their health and wellness. Even though they have strong shells, but actually, their body is pretty fragile. So, gentle care is needed.

This is also what makes tortoises vulnerable to some types of diseases. Usually, these diseases pop up because of a lack of care, including not paying attention to their living environment, the nutrients they need, and suboptimal care.

As an owner, it’s our responsibility to take care of the pets we choose. You should also understand what common health issues in tortoises are so you can provide the right care. Hence, I invite you to discuss this matter here.

Common health issues in tortoises

Based on my experience in handling tortoises and from some research I’ve read, four common diseases often affect tortoises. To make it easier for you to navigate, I’ve broken them down into points:

1. Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

Signs: Wheezing, lethargy, reduced appetite, nasal discharge.

This disease is caused by a lack of calcium due to a lack of UVB exposure. Generally, MBD is suffered by tortoises kept indoors. As an owner, you should pay attention to calcium supplementation and prepare UVB lamps if you can’t ensure they get 10-12 hours of sunlight exposure.

2. Respiratory Infections

Signs: Lethargy, soft shells, difficulty moving, fractures.

Another common disease in tortoises kept indoors is respiratory disease. This infection is caused by poor ventilation and inadequate humidity and temperatures. These conditions initially weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of infection.

3. Shell Rot

Signs: foul odor, discoloration, soft and spongy shell, visible lesions.

Despite being able to live on land and in water, tortoises don’t prefer prolonged exposure to moist conditions. With a combination of unclean habitat conditions, this can lead to shell rot due to active fungal and bacterial growth. 

So, make sure you maintain the cleanliness of their enclosure, whether indoor or outdoor and regularly brush their shells to clean and inspect if there’s anything off.

4. Parasitic Infections

Signs: diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss, change in appetite.

Still related to improper sanitation, parasitic infections can infect your tortoises if their food and water are contaminated. This disease also becomes one of the risks of using automated feeding systems because owners will rarely check the condition and quality of the feed, thinking they are all good.



Having the right gear in keeping your tortoise is the key to success. It also ensures they happily live around their home with excellent health and wellness. 

My experience also taught me a lot to pay close attention to their behavior. If they behave well, it means they love their habitat. In this section, I want to further talk about the essentials you need to provide the best for your tortoises. 

Essential supplies

As we briefly touched on earlier, the habitat plays a crucial role in ensuring the quality of life for tortoises. And as their owners, we have the responsibility to provide that. 

Installing UVB lamps, for example, is one way to meet their needs as an alternative to sunlight for synthesizing vitamin D and calcium support.

Moreover, the addition of hiding spots is also important. Tortoises like to hide as part of their natural behavior of seeking shelter. This also helps them reduce stress. Imagine them like introverted humans who, when tired, need some time to chill, right?

Beyond that, incorporating climbing structures encourages them to exercise. These reptiles enjoy climbing and exploring different elevations, despite their slow movement. With a healthy physique, their overall mental well-being will be good too.

What’s more? Don’t forget water dishes. Although it might seem trivial, they ensure your pets stay well-hydrated. So, you don’t have to deal with digestion issues and dehydration.

Tools for habitat maintenance

Tortoise supply isn’t just about food and health—it also includes tools for habitat maintenance. They are vital to maintaining the hygiene and comfort of the tortoise environment, preventing the onset of diseases.

To achieve that, let’s start with the scoop or rake. Why? Because they work like magic to help you remove waste or leftover food. 

Both of these are organic waste that can potentially become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, eventually making your tortoises fall ill. Besides, raking these wastes also helps make their habitat visually neat and pleasing to see.

Another thing you shouldn’t dismiss is the presence of a digital thermometer. Like what I discussed earlier, tortoises are ectothermic. They can regulate their body temperature by relying on external sources.

This tool is important to ensure that your pets’ habitat is within the range of their preferred temperatures. In addition, a digital thermometer also offers precise measurements so you can control the environment more effectively.

Alongside the digital thermometer, I think you should also consider adding a dehumidifier if you keep the pets indoors. This is crucial because excessive humidity can make tortoises prone to shell rot and bacterial infections.

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Routine care

tortoise supply
Routine care

Once you’ve decided to keep tortoises, be ready for the commitment of giving them the best care. I know it can be tricky for beginners because I’ve been through the same thing. But fret not. We’ll learn it together in this section.

Generally, there are three types of care that I categorize based on time periods: daily, weekly, and monthly routines. For daily, start by regularly checking the temperature. Make sure it suits your tortoises’ needs. Also, refilling food and water is crucial.

But first, remember to clean the water and food dishes to prevent contamination. I typically provide a variety of foods that fulfill their nutrition, like vegetables, greens, fruits, and fortified pellets. You can check more details in the “Diet and Nutrition” section.

Next is the weekly routine. I usually clean the enclosure at least once a week by removing their uneaten food and waste. This is crucial to maintain hygiene. Additionally, I’ll check their overall well-being and health, observing their eyes, ears, and shells. So, if there are abnormalities, I can take them to the vet right away.

Lastly, the monthly routine. You can check their health conditions again to make sure everything is okay. If not, you can consult a vet. Besides that, you can provide additional care by brushing their shells and trimming overgrown nails. 

Seasonal care

The routines mentioned above might change with the seasons. Usually, I’ll take my indoor tortoises outside to soak up the extended sunlight in summer and spring. This approach is crucial to promote healthy behaviors and boost their activity levels.

Besides that, I also make sure they stay well-hydrated during the seasons by offering more water. Leafy greens or juicy fruits are also good options to provide refreshing meals and nutrients.

On the flip side, colder seasons make tortoises a bit sluggish. Remember what I said? They’re exothermic, loving heat from the outside. Therefore, it’s better to adjust the setup by adding lamps to introduce warmth. It’s crucial to ensure they can still regulate their body temperatures effectively.

What’s the Role of Technology in Monitoring Tortoise Health?

You should be thankful for technological advancements because you can find convenience in between, especially in taking care of your tortoises. 

Tools like digital thermometers are equipped with sensors that automatically detect temperature changes. Thus, you don’t have to bother waiting for a mercury column to show the measurement every time.

The role of an automatic feeding system is also beneficial, particularly for those who have limited time to feed pets on time. But in this case, you still need to check it occasionally to ensure the feed is still fresh.

Additionally, you can make use of CCTV with an app that you can download on your phone. It allows you to monitor the tortoises at any time despite the distance. I think this is also useful for those who often travel.

Responsible ownership

tortoise supply
Responsible ownership

If you think keeping a tortoise is an easy and simple thing, I don’t recommend you to have one. Because why? Owning a tortoise requires a long-term commitment. 

Believe me, they can live for up to 60 years! Well, most of them living in captivity have a shorter lifespan, but they can still last around 5 to 10 years. So, consider this before you decide to keep one.

Once you’re sure to take one home, you should get it through ethical sourcing. I adopted one from reputable breeders or rescue organizations that truly understand the well-being and health of tortoises. 

That way, they can also provide tips on how to care for tortoises and keep you updated on their conditions. They often help if you’re dealing with issues in keeping a tortoise. It may seem complicated, but we do all of this to ensure the welfare of the tortoise and contribute to the conservation of their species.

Legal aspects

This is the reason why I recommend you get one from ethical sourcing. Besides ensuring their wellness, they know everything about the legal aspects of owning a tortoise.

Legal considerations may vary depending on your local regulations. But generally, you shouldn’t keep rare species because they’re usually protected to maintain their numbers in the wild.

Some jurisdictions may also ask for documents, like the origin of the tortoise. This is crucial to ensure you’re not getting the tortoise from illegal sources.

Beyond that, they might demand you to provide a proper habitat with a specific setup and enclosures. Once again, I said, having a tortoise requires extra work. It’s a precious animal that needs extra attention. When you know how the game plays, it will be worth it.

Communities for support

tortoise supply
Communities for support

Novice tortoise owners might find the journey of caring for this pet challenging, especially after realizing that its care requires extra effort. But luckily, there are many online communities for tortoise enthusiasts that allow you to share insights about this reptile. 

I personally often visit the Tortoise Forum (, where I can meet many tortoise owners, whether they’re pros or newbies. 

Additionally, I recommend checking out the Tortoise Trust ( This online community serves as a safe space to find out tips and tricks for caring for tortoises of various species.

And if you want to adopt a tortoise, there’s no better place than American Tortoise Rescue. They are an organization that has successfully rehomed 4000 tortoises of diverse species. Not only that, this organization initially launched World Turtle Day back in 2000, which is now celebrated worldwide on May 23rd.

In addition to online communities, I would love to share some helpful sources and contacts in case you need assistance with your tortoise or in case of emergencies.

Vanderhoof Veterinary Hospital

Vet Name: Bronwyn Dawson, DVM

Contact: 626-798-5901


Evolution Vet

Vet Name: Dr. Katarina Bennett, DABVP (ECM)

Contact: 720-510-7707


American Tortoise Rescue


Brookhurst Animal Medical Care

Vet Name: Dr. Carlos Lopez

Contact: 714-776-7387


Madison Avenue Veterinary Clinic

Vet Name: Dr. Marianne Brick

Contact: 916-961-1541



Before you dive into tortoise-keeping, you better educate yourself to grasp what they really need. Taking care of tortoises is no walk in the park – it involves things like nailing their diet, setting up their digs just right, and making sure they’re living their best tortoise life. But once you get the hang of it, it’s all worth it. 

Be a responsible owner who ensures they live happily and can enjoy the long haul with you. Please, don’t jump into tortoise-keeping just because it’s trending; do it with the genuine intention of conserving these amazing creatures.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Can Tortoises Thrive in Apartment Settings? If So, How?

Tortoises can happily thrive in an apartment only when you prepare specific adjustments. First, provide a spot with spacious space, for example on the balcony. Add basking and hiding places so they can take shelter. 

Then, add UVB lighting if there is not enough sunlight on the balcony. Then, install a digital thermometer to monitor the temperature so that it is in the range of 85°F to 105°F during the day and 70°F at night.

Are There Eco-Friendly Tortoise Supplies That Benefit Both Pets and Environment?

When it comes to tortoise supplies, there are some products that support the well-being of your tortoise and are also eco-friendly. One example is the coconut carpet made from fiber. This stuff is usually mixed into the terrarium to give some elevation and a natural terrain feel. 

Also, dry moss is often used for nesting places and breeding areas to provide warmth. They are made of organic materials that are environmentally friendly and biodegradable.

What Are the Most Common Mistakes in Setting Up a Tortoise’s Lighting System?

The most common mistake in setting up lighting for tortoises is the choice of bulbs. Many think any old bulb will do the trick, but tortoises need UVB lamps for synthesizing vitamin D and calcium. 

Moreover, newbies often end up placing the lighting source either too far or too close, messing with the effectiveness of the light. So, make sure you arrange it properly according to the habitat conditions and pick out UVB bulbs before making a purchase.

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