Looking for a terrarium for your newly born land turtles?
Want to learn to build a terrarium in home?
Looking for a aquarium for water turtles? Click here.
Difference between land tortoises and water turtles
The terrestrial tortoises, belonging to the order of the tortoises, are reptiles that, unlike water turtles, live in an environment of land. The land turtles have a robust dorsal carpace, they are docile, quiet and silent animals. There are several species of terrestrial turtles, which are distinguished by their longevity, dimensions and colors.
Terrestrial tortoises, or tortoises, can be raised both indoors and outdoors. Widespread species that live in areas with tropical climate will be able to live outdoors only in summer. Those widespread in temperate climatic zones can also be kept outside all year round. This also depends on the conditions of the area in which they are raised.
Terrestrial tortoises can be kept in good health and reproduce, as long as there are the following conditions: sufficient space, adequate quality of the substrate, a correct temperature / humidity ratio and particular attention with regards to food quality and cleanliness.
How to keep land turtles?
These fascinating animals do not need special care, but still need a healthy and balanced diet based on vegetables, which facilitates the digestive process, and a suitable and welcoming environment in which to live.
An unbalanced diet could cause serious deficiencies of calcium, severe and visible deformations of the carapace, skeletal malformations, mycoses and bacteria, poor immune defenses, predisposition to viral pathologies and insufficient body weight to overcome the phase of hibernation.
Turtles and tortoises have no teeth, but have a robust and sharp horny beak with which they tear the food to pieces, often with the help of the front legs.
Land turtles ingest food without chewing them. Digestion is slow and the passage from the esophagus to the stomach and therefore to the intestine can take some time.
The terrestrial turtles are almost all vegetarian. Field grass, vegetables and vegetables are the basis of their diet. The assortment of green food that can be used to feed these reptiles is vast and it is good practice to vary the diet as much as possible.
They are herbivorous animals that feed on wild plants and herbs that they find in their path. Among the herbs preferred by terrestrial tortoises we find: dandelion, plantain, watercress, alfalfa, clover, chicory, radicchio and endive. It is possible to give fruit, as long as it is not exaggerated. Among the recommended types of fruit we find: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, apricots, figs and cherries (to be administered sparingly as they are not easily digested).
Instead, the feed for other animal species, pasta, bread, legumes, the green part of potatoes and tomatoes, which contains solanine, toxic for these animals, are absolutely avoided.
Among the most known breeds we find the Testudo Hermanni (Hermann's tortoise), the Testudo Graeca (Graeca tortoise) and the Testudo Marginata (Marginata tortoise). The Hermann tortoise is the most common land tortoise in Italy and throughout the Mediterranean area. It is a small specimen; it can reach a maximum of 23 cm in length but, generally, its dimensions remain smaller.
This tortoise is very long-lived and can live in nature even for more than a hundred years. The tortoise Graeca is also widespread in the Mediterranean area and in Italy, but it is a protected species, for which there are special regulations and taking it in the wild is prohibited.
The Marginata tortoise is present mainly in Sardinia and other Mediterranean islands and is characterized by larger dimensions (it can even be up to 45 cm long) and by scales that protrude from the carapace and make it easily recognizable. You can buy it at a certified farm. To recognize it, just look at the legs, which have small horny extensions in this breed.
The rarer breeds are, instead, the Testudo Horsfieldii and the Testudo Kleinmanni. The Testudo Horsfieldii is also called the steppe tortoise, the Russian tortoise or the Horsfiel tortoise and its six subspecies all live in Asia. the Testudo Kleinmanni (Egyptian tortoise) is present exclusively in some regions between Libya, Egypt and Israel. the species is at risk of extinction in the wild and is very rare.
My experience with land turtles
My personal experience with these beautiful animals has lasted for over twenty years. My first turtle was given to me at an early age and since then I have developed a passion for these reptiles that persists to this day. In the following I will talk about everything I have learned over the years, hoping that it can serve as an aid to those who do not have much experience or otherwise to give my contribution to those people who are always looking for new advice.
Terrariums are special environments in which to welcome terrestrial turtles if they wish to host at home. The terrarium for land turtles is indispensable in order to guarantee these reptiles safety and protection, as they are particularly docile and defenseless animals.
Land turtles and peat
Tortoises need a very spacious place with the right humidity. The substratum should be quite deep, so as to allow the turtle to dig to shelter, go into hibernation and extinguish, composed of soil, sand, clay or peat.
The choice of land in this case is very important. A mix of earth, peat and sand is ideal. Peat is a deposit composed of vegetable remains impregnated with water that, due to the acidity of the environment, cannot completely decompose.
Thanks to these properties, peat is able to maintain the right balance of humidity, necessary for the health of the turtle. The sand in this case is useful to counterbalance the humidity of the peat and to give the soil the right balance thanks to its thermoregulating and draining properties. An excess of humidity could favor the onset of mold and bacteria, while too dry an environment is not suitable for the health of the animal.
In nature these reptiles live in forests, woods, undergrowth and low vegetation. It is a complex habitat, made of earth, sunlight, grass and bushes. In general, outdoor space is always preferable. It is possible to place the terrarium in the garden, on the terrace or in the balcony. The internal terrarium is indispensable for the winter months, during which the turtles hibernate and are more vulnerable.
Because of the exotic plants, other domestic animals, the limited space available and the different climate, very often our environments are not always the ideal place to welcome terrestrial turtles but thanks to some tricks and a bit of effort we can look for to recreate a welcoming environment suited to the needs of the animal. The first rule, therefore, is the following, the space dedicated to our turtle must imitate its natural habitat as much as possible.
It is very important that the terrarium is spacious, has the right humidity and that, in the absence of direct sunlight, a special UVB lamp is installed, which will facilitate the synthesis of vitamin D and, consequently, the assimilation of calcium, indispensable for the health of these reptiles. On the other hand, we must also guarantee a shaded area in which animals can shelter in the event of excessive heat.
The terrarium must guarantee the safety of the turtle. For example, if we want to place the animal in the garden, the outside area must be fenced, in order to avoid possible predator attacks.
As for my personal experience I must say that I have not encountered particular difficulties in managing and living with other pets. I have had and still own dogs and cats that have always been friendly or neutral towards my turtles. On the other hand, a particularly robust dog (such as a molosser) could pose a danger to the reptile.
A violent bite or strong impact trauma (a playful dog could mistake our friend for a game) could damage our turtle's carpace or plastron, with even dramatic consequences. Cats may also pose a threat to turtles and various wild animals. Therefore it is always a good idea to carefully evaluate the risks and delimit the area destined for the turtle by means of special enclosures.
Obviously, the more turtles we want to welcome, the more space will be available to them.
Another aspect to be reckoned with is the strength, weight and material of the terrarium. The terrarium must be solid and robust enough so as not to be damaged but, at the same time, it must not be too heavy to move. On the market there are terrariums of all kinds and sizes, in glass, in wood, in plexiglass, in chipboard, etc.
The materials and dimensions must be chosen according to personal and animal needs. If we own a turtle more, a more spacious terrarium will surely be the ideal to allow the right sharing of space between reptiles.
If, instead, we have opted for only one specimen, a medium-sized terrarium will be more than enough. If we have a garden, we can set up a real paradise for our animal, enclosing the outside and placing inside it a small wooden terrarium in which to shelter or move around the house during the coldest periods of the year . Wood is an excellent material if you choose to let the animal live outside. It is insulating and natural.
If, instead, we have little space and want to keep the turtle at home, a small glass terrarium will be the best solution. Generally, it is preferable to let at least two specimens coexist, so as to prevent the turtle from living a solitary life, an aspect that should not be underestimated.
Male and female turtles, if possible, should be kept separate. If we prefer to keep the turtles in the same environment, it is advisable that there is a male for every 3 or 4 females, to avoid that these are exaggeratedly harassed by violent and continuous courtship.
The same goes for the little ones, who should be separated from the adults.
Turtles love to dig the earth and not just for hibernation. Often, during periods of excessive heat, they take refuge or bury themselves waiting for milder climates.
This strategy is called estivation. During the summer season they come out in the early hours of the day or in the late afternoon to enjoy the pleasant sun rays. Generally, in these periods they do not feed or if they do they eat small amounts of food. Being heterothermal animals, turtles hibernate during the winter months.
The lethargy consists of an act of protection in which the metabolism slows down. In this period, the animal takes refuge in a corner, usually seeking protection under the earth and its vital functions slow down. The lethargy, however, also represents a critical period, in which the animal is not always able to defend itself well from external threats of viruses and bacteria. Often the turtles awaken from hibernation presenting respiratory pathologies. One way to prevent this from happening is to try to guarantee good health both before and during the period of hibernation.
How to build a terrarium at home?
The turtle needs to feel safe. For this reason it is essential to provide a shelter.
It is possible to create plant shelters with hay, small bushes or even insert real turtle houses within the terrarium. In addition to being functional, these elements are decorative and it will be fun to set up the new turtle house, personalize it, embellish it and enjoy the final effect.
If we decided to create the house with DIY, I would recommend creating the inspectable or removable roof. In this way we would have greater accessibility for maintenance and cleaning and we could better control the turtle during the hibernation period without disturbing it excessively.
Terrestrial tortoises are particularly curious animals and explorers and climb easily, although they are not particularly agile. Attention must be paid to any leaks, a good fence prevents the animal from going away or others from putting its safety at risk. In addition to installing a wooden fence, it would be convenient to reinforce the fence with wire mesh. In this way, in addition to preventing leaks or intrusions of other animals, we will avoid that the reptile can climb and consequently injure itself. A good horizontal coverage, on the other hand, is very useful against birds of prey that represent a threat to terrestrial turtles, especially if they are small. It will be sufficient to cover the area with light metal mesh to ensure the safety of the turtle.
Vegetation within the terrarium or enclosure is not a factor to be underestimated. In case we have a lot of space we could indulge ourselves in creating real floral compositions that act as shelter. We could even place within the enclosure of aromatic plants or grow field grass of which the turtles are greedy.
It is also very important to provide the animal with tall grass, shrubs or twigs, which will be an excellent aid in the event of a rollover. The subject changes completely if our idea is to opt for a home solution. We will have less space available and consequently the vegetation will be more scarce but not less functional.
If we decided to expand our turtle farm we would need enough space to allow the turtle to lay its eggs. The number of eggs laid for each brood varies according to the species and also to the age of the turtle.
On average, however, there are four to six eggs per brood. Generally the deposition takes place during the coolest hours of the day, therefore early in the morning or in the evening. When the time comes for the hatching, the small turtle will break the shell from the inside and will begin its exit which could last even several hours. The puppy, in fact, will not leave the egg completely until it has completely absorbed all the albumen that represents its only source of nourishment for the first hours of life.
The sex of unborn children is strongly influenced by the incubation temperature of the eggs. At higher temperatures, in fact, there is a higher incidence of birth of females, while at lower temperatures more males are born. Never go below 25 degrees or exceed 34 degrees if you don't want to run the risk of killing the embryos.
In warm or sufficiently temperate climates, we will be able to safely leave the land turtles outdoors. If instead we live in a place where winter temperatures drop below zero, it is necessary to move the turtle to a place where the temperature is not less than 4/5 degrees.
In the case of a particularly weak or sick specimen it is useful to avoid hibernation. In this case we will have to prepare a terrarium with daytime temperatures around 25-26 degrees and night no lower than 18-19 degrees, placing a heating lamp with UVB rays emission in one side of the terrarium and a substrate of soil to keep slightly humid.
We see below some models of terrariums, materials and their particularities.
Best terrarium for land turtles
The Exoterra model has a solid base and can hold up to three turtles. Although not a particularly large model, it guarantees comfort, safety and sufficient space. It is made of glass, so as to avoid leaks and is easy to maintain. In the kit there is a background that depicts a natural landscape, which instills security and serenity for the turtles, and a small rock designed and created in such a way that reptiles can walk on it or find shelter under it. The tempered glass avoids creating that feeling of suffocation that could accompany the turtle. The dimensions are equal to 60x35x25 cm. Overall this is a good article in which to place a couple of turtles and create a pleasant and comfortable habitat for them.
Planet Eco Terrarium Kit
A variation of this article is represented by the Planet Eco Kit earthen turtle tank. This model, compared to the previous one, is characterized by being characterized by slightly more resistant materials. The dimensions are slightly higher and equal to 60x40x28 cm. The walls are made with a slightly slippery glass that prevents the turtle from climbing and therefore being able to climb over the edge of the terrarium. Furthermore, the glass is of the tempered type, ie the heat will not increase the temperature inside the terrarium, thus avoiding that the turtle may have that sort of feeling of discomfort that could be anything but pleasant for the same animal . It is possible to easily divide the internal environment of the terrarium, in this way we will be able to derive the area in which we will provide the food supplies and the one in which the turtle will seek shelter or rest.
The Terra Tortum model is ideal for all those who want to offer their turtles an environment that can accommodate them in a simple yet pleasant way. This terrarium is characterized by a base and a rear wall in wood, a material particularly appreciated by these reptiles, as it is natural and insulating, as well as solid and robust. The front of the terrarium consists of a small glass wall made of solid material. The glass, made quite slippery, is able to prevent the eventual escape of the turtles, which they will still be able to see even outside. the material does not tarnish and does not yellow over time, a fundamental detail that increases the quality of the product. Inside this terrarium there is also a small house, also made of wood, which can be used by the turtle both during the hibernation period and as a shelter during the night. Inside the house, there are synthetic grasses that can be added from time to time, as well as various other elements that have the final purpose of reproducing, in a faithful manner, the natural habitat of the turtles. The product is particularly resistant and represents a valid solution to create a safe and protected environment for its turtles. Despite these positive aspects, the size of the Zolux terrarium is quite small, for this reason it is a suitable solution for those who intend to raise a single specimen since a greater number of turtles would not have the space necessary to be able to move safely. at the same time to be able to reproduce.
If we are going to dedicate ourselves to a single land turtle, this product will be able to respond perfectly to all our needs.
- This terrarium with side ventilation by Repiterra has a wooden frame, front glass with a total of 4 float glasses with polished edges (4 mm), 2 of which are fixed to the frame. The front glass of the terrarium is completely assembled, only the sliding doors must be inserted.
- The body is composed of OSB panels, free of formaldehyde, 12 mm thick. The total dimensions of the assembled terrarium are 100 cm x 40 cm x 40 cm (length x width x height). 2 ventilation grilles are located on the left and right sides. The filling level of the base in the lower zone is at least 10 cm.
Another very simple terrarium model is Repiterra, made entirely of chipboard, a solid and insulating material. The chipboard will be able to protect our turtle from possible thermal changes, especially if we move the terrarium from the inside to the outside of our house. The insulating material will allow us to move the terrarium without too much concern to allow the animal to enjoy the benefits of exposure to sunlight. Furthermore, it is an excellent product to evaluate in case we want to keep the reptile outside. The practical cover will avoid the danger of winged predators, such as hawks and other birds of prey, and thanks to the resistance of the chipboard and the dimensions of this terrarium, mice, rats and creeping animals will not be able to damage the animal. Furthermore, the chipboard prevents the temperature inside the terrarium from being influenced by external factors, since both excessive and cold heat will be completely absorbed by the wood. Glass will allow us to control our turtle instead. This product represents an ideal choice if we want to offer our turtles safety and comfort even outside. The dimensions of this terrarium are 120x60x60 centimeters. Despite being a very valid product, the chipboard could be less resistant should it get wet or otherwise come into contact with other liquids. Moreover, the excessive weight of the terrarium could prevent us from moving it with simplicity, a detail that should not be underestimated. Therefore, taking into consideration these characteristics, we will have to evaluate, based on our needs, whether this terrarium is an ideal tool for us or whether we opt for other products that could respond more effectively to our requests.
The Terrabasic TortoiseCage terrarium model is probably the easiest to use. It is very easy to assemble and the practical glass will allow us to always check our turtle, which will enjoy safety and protection.
The interior spaces can be furnished to our liking, thus creating the perfect environment for our terrestrial turtle. This model allows us to avoid excessive efforts during movement, given the limited size and weight, designed precisely to make moving from the inside of the house easier and faster, an important detail that allows us to take care of our turtles without too many complications. This terrarium is made of resistant materials and is quite spacious (its dimensions are 100x50x30 centimeters). It is a great choice if we decide to keep a couple of turtles.
OTHER ESSENTIAL GUIDES:
Best Aquariums for Turtles
Best Dog Dryer
Best Cooling Mat for Dog
Best Croquettes for Dog
Best Dog Beds
Best Repellent for Cats
geeky-mama.com participate in the Program Amazon EU affiliation, an affiliate program that allows sites to receive an advertising commission by advertising and providing links to the site Amazon.
Last update 2019-11-27 / Affiliate link / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API