Welcome to our section about tortoises and tortoise care. Below you find some basic information about tortoise s. You can also browse this section to find more specific information pertaining to how to care for and breed specific tortoise species


In British English, the word tortoise is used for members of the order Testutdines that lives on land, while the word turtle refers strictly to the species that live in the ocean and the word terrapin is used for the species that live fresh or brackish water.

In Australian English, all the members of the order Testutdines that lives on land are called tortoises. The species that lives in water are known as turtles, regardless of whether they inhabit saltwater, brackish water or freshwater.

In American English, the word turtle is commonly used for all the members of the order Testutdines regardless of habitat, but quite a few Americans prefer the British or Australian system and you can therefore find the words tortoise and terrapin in a fair number of American texts as well.

In order to avoid confusion, scientists and similar groups normally use the word chelonian when referring to all the members of the order Testudines regardless of habitat.

Pet tortoise

Many species of tortoise are kept as pets, such as the Russian tortoise (Testudo horsfieldii) and the Greek spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca). Before you get a tortoise, it is important to learn about its requirements. Each species has its own set of requirements and you cannot assume that you new tortoise will need the same things as your old tortoise from another species.

A majority of the tortoise species in the world are chiefly herbivores, but many will occasionally eat insects if given the opportunity. The fact that a tortoise will accept a certain type of food doesn’t automatically mean that it is healthy for it in the long run. Many pet owners feed their herbivore tortoise cat or dog food, but this is certainly not recommend since such food will contain too much protein, too little fibres and an improper combination of other nutrients. In the wild, the diet of herbivore tortoises will vary from habitat to habitat but often contain leafy greens, grasses, flowers and fruit. Always research your particular species or subspecies to find out more about its native habitat.

Unfortunately, several species of tortoise are endangered in the wild. By purchasing wild caught specimens, pet owners aggravate the problem. Ideally stick to species that aren’t endangered or purchase specimens that are captive bred. Be aware that some sellers lie about the origin of their tortoises and sell wild caught specimens as captive bred.  

How old can a tortoise become?

The oldest known tortoise was Tui Malila who reached an age of 188 years. She was given to the Tongan royal family by Captain Cook shortly after being hatched in 1777 and stayed with the royal family until she died in 1965. She is the second oldest vertebrate in the world; the oldest one is a koi fish who reached an age of 266 years before it died in 1977.

It is hard to estimate the exact age of a tortoise, because the old idea that the age is revealed by the number of rings on the carapace is not true. The growth rate of a tortoise depends primarily on nutrition.


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