This page has been moved to : Leopard Tortoise Caresheet
Caring for your Leopard Tortoise
We pride ourselves on being voted one of the best Independent Pet Centres in the U.K. by “Which” Magazine so if in the first few days of your Leopard Tortoise coming home you are concerned about its health or well being, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are open seven days a week and often a quick call to us may alleviate any minor problems and put your mind at ease.
This caresheet is a basic guide to the care of Leopard tortoises, though any potential owner would be wise to purchase a more in depth book to ensure they have as much knowledge as possible on their care requirements before purchasing your tortoise.
Leopard Tortoises are a large African tortoise, growing up to two feet in length, making them the fourth largest tortoise in the world.
3 - 4 foot Tortoise Table at minimum for a young Leopard Tortoise. Adults will require a large outdoor pen on warmer summer days and a large indoor enclosure for colder days.
Shallow, heavy dishes
Calcium/D3 and multivitamin supplements
10% UVB Lighting
Heat Bulb (either a red spot bulb or ceramic heater controlled by a thermostat...heat mat is not suitable)
Leopard Tortoises are a very large tortoise and so will require significant amount of space as adults.
While young, your leopard tortoise will need to be kept indoors all year round as they quickly dissipate heat and will not thrive outdoors. Young leopard tortoises can be kept in a 4 foot open top tortoise table though this will only be big enough for the first few years. As adults, a spare room may be more appropriate housing.
It is vital that they receive the necessary UVB lighting to aid vitamin D3 production and utilisation. This can either be provided with a high uvb emitting bulb like Exo Terra’s 10% ReptiGlos, or a combination uvb/heat bulb can be used such as Arcadia’s mercury vapour bulbs, though with all strong uvb sources be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Young Leopard Tortoises can be kept in a heated tortoise table within a temperature range of 70F to 75F with a hot spot at 90F. If using a fluorescent bulb for UVB, use either a ceramic or infra red bulb for heating. As your tortoise develops, it can be introduced to an outside pen but only during the warmer days of the summer and then brought inside during the night.
NB With all heating equipment, please be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Larger/adult leopard tortoises will benefit from natural UVB from direct sunlight.
During the warmer summer months an outdoor enclosure can be used to house older Leopard Tortoises. This normally takes the form of a fenced off area of your garden, where the fence extends at least 8 inches below the surface of the soil to prevent the tortoise from digging out and should be at least 18 inches high. Heating should still be provided using a enclosed and thermostatically heated “pen” or shelter your Leopard Tortoise can hide in if the outdoor temperature drops too low.
The outdoor pen should have a shaded area so your tortoise can cool off if it gets too hot. This area should also have cover from the rain, as Leopard Tortoises prefer drier conditions.
In colder days/months, it is advisable to bring the tortoise indoors.
Whether kept indoors or outdoors, a shallow water dish must always be available.
Your Leopard Tortoise will thrive on a diet of leafy high fibre vegetation. Fruit or overly moist vegetables should NOT be offered as a diet too high in sugar and/or water can result in diarrhoea and other health problems. The bulk of their diet should be made up of various grasses and hays as well as a mixture of weeds. Meadow hay, timothy hay and orchard hay are suitable alternatives when grasses aren’t readily available. Other safe plants include : plantain, both broad and narrow leaf, dandelion leaves and flowers, chickweed, clover, thistle, hibiscus leaves and flowers, mulberry leaves, tradescantia, opuntia pads and fruit, echeveria, abutilon, kalanchoe, mimula, etunias, viola, flatleaf watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum) but not salad cress, American Land Cress (Barbarea verna), sowthistle, endive, agave, lavatera flowers and leaves.
If you are uncertain which weeds are poisonous and which are not, or if you suspect the weeds may have been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals, you are probably better off with commercially bought vegetables.
All foods should be supplemented on a daily basis with Calcium. All tortoises require a diet rich in calcium to ensure healthy growth of their shells. Calcium deficiency can result in growth deformities which can lead to other health problems. Also, fresh water should be available at all times in a shallow bowl though deep enough so that the tortoise can submerge both its mouth and nose to drink. Also be sure that your tortoise can climb in and out of their bowls with ease.
A good quality tortoise food can also be used to supplement their diet but in no way can be considered a substitute for fresh leafy vegetables.
Check the tank daily for faeces and remove them immediately. Wash out the food and water dishes daily. Place your Leopard Tortoise in an escape proof container while cleaning its enclosure. Both the tank and any washable floor coverings should be washed monthly in hot water and mild detergent. Use a Reptile Safe disinfectant to sterilise the tank such as BEA Reptile Disinfectant. Rinse well with hot water and dry thoroughly.
ON RECEIPT OF YOUR TORTOISE
On arrival soak you tortoise in tepid water in a cat litter tray or shallow bowl. Do not use cold tap water as this will be a shock to them. Soak them for approximately 30 minutes and then offer them fresh food. When you receive your tortoise it may have its eyes closed. They may have fallen asleep in transit. When you pick your tortoise up they should open their eyes within a few seconds. If your tortoise is sluggish in opening its eyes then bath them with clean tepid water.
To ensure that your tortoise stays hydrated soak them every other day, as you did on arrival. You will notice that your tortoise will drink and then defecate. Leave them in the tray to soak for approximately 30 minutes. As adults, this can be done once a week.
Clean the Vivarium completely at least once a week and remove droppings daily.