Monday, October 28, 2013

Taking Care of the Small Tortoise

Many people want a small tortoise as a pet. “Small” is a relative concept for tortoises, considering the fact that those measure from 10 centimeters to 2 meters, depending on the species. The European, Greek and Russian tortoises are considered small-average tortoises, which can reach 20-25 centimeters at maturity. Sure, you can find smaller tortoises, but those are the most common types that you can also find in your local pet store.

The small tortoise is specialized for digging. Whether we are talking about the European and Russian tortoises that have to dig a hole to prepare hibernation for the winter, or about the sub-tropical species that need to dig to prepare the nest for the eggs, the small turtle is adapted for digging.

The hibernating turtles are inactive from October to March. As soon as the hibernation process is over, the turtle starts the mating period. From the middle of April, when this period is over, the tortoises will start to concentrate about food. Their advantage is that they don’t need to take care of the eggs, which means that they have enough time to eat, to accumulate fat deposits that will be really useful for the winter. This is also a disadvantage, because this leads to a small survival percentage of tortoises. The nests are found by predators, and even if they hatch, the babies are vulnerable during the first hours of their life. Only 2% of the baby turtles survive. Some species of tortoises lay eggs four times in a season. During this period, the female eats less.

It is important for people that want to have turtles as pets to understand those. The majority of tortoises brought from Africa and from subtropical areas don’t survive because of the cold weather. An indoor habitat is required, but as we are talking about turtles that can easily reach 20-25 centimeters, the turtles need to have a space of 1-2 meters.

The tortoises are usually herbivores, but they can also eat worms, meat and even small birds. The tortoise needs carbohydrates, and this is why a large insect is delicious once a day for a tortoise.

Hibernation in captivity is a debated subject. Some say that the tortoise must be forced to hibernate in captivity, even if she has all the heat, light and food required, while others say that the tortoise must “decide”. For this, you will have to create a cave, and to put a layer of sand. If the tortoise wants to hibernate, she will know what to do.

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