10 Benefits Of Owning A Tortoise
Pet crazes come and go. Thankfully, there are greater regulations on owning certain species than there were mid-century. There were far too many big cats in living rooms, and we can’t forget about Salvador Dali’s pet anteater. Back in 2014, there were calls not to rush out and buy pet turtles following the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Reboot. Even dogs and cats just aren’t for everyone, some people have allergies or phobias. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t all offer a good home and lots of love for the right animal. The tortoise may be that animal.
So, what are the Benefits Of Owning A Tortoise. There are many benefits of owning a tortoise, they don’t require a lot of space or exercise and don’t leave lots of mess. Tortoises are considered a low maintenance pet, especially in winter when they hibernate and with their distinct personalities will be your friend for life.
Tortoises really are incredible pets and even have advantages over cats and dogs!
Dog’s are said to be man’s best friend – and we can’t really fault their loyalty or temperament – but we shouldn’t overlook the potential of the tortoise to fill that rule. Some people are practically obsessed with cats but, again, there are traits in a tortoise that rival those of a cat. This will sound strange to those yet to meet a tortoise. That is why we have written this guide.
The following guide looks at 10 different ways that tortoises make great pets. Some of the reasons may surprise you if you aren’t familiar with these animals or have misconceptions about reptiles. Along the way, we will discuss these traits compared to those of our beloved cats and dogs. By the end, you should have a better idea of the benefits of owning one of these animals. However, there are also some important considerations for responsible tortoise ownership. We will highlight some of these issues along the way.
1)Tortoises don’t require a lot of space or exercise.
Because tortoises are so slow-moving and happy at home, you don’t need to provide that much space for them. A home with a garden is great because you can let them wander through the plants and get some exercise. Even so, that yard doesn’t have to be very big. There are also homeowners without gardens that let the tortoise wander indoors without too many issues. Yes, you may find that they have rearranged some furniture as they explored. But, they aren’t going to get far.
Compare this to our cats and dogs. The activity levels of dogs mean that they thrive in homes with yards where they can run around and burn off energy. Yards are also perfect for housebreaking. Cats are more comfortable in apartments, but many do prefer to be outdoor animals and to wander their territory. You don’t have to worry about this independent streak in a tortoise. As long as you are happy to share your home with a slightly stubborn reptile, you could end up with a pretty cool flatmate.
2) Tortoises are low maintenance, especially in the winter.
Tortoises do have specific care needs just like any other animal. However, once you have the right living environment for them, you don’t have to worry about too much. Tortoises can get by with one healthy meal of fruit and leaves a day. Let them chow down for half an hour on a range of produce and that’s it. It’s a pretty simple, cheap diet plan for owners on a budget. They then need access to water to drink and stay hydrated.
The home also needs to have a secure place to sleep and a heat lamp to help them regulate their temperature. Tortoises are reptiles so can’t regulate their own body temperature. They need heat lamps and external cooling systems to reach the right temperature. Once they are up and active, you can pretty much leave them to it. They will only cause trouble if you accidentally leave something in the wrong place.
The other important thing to remember here is that tortoises hibernate in the winter. Build them a nice safe den where they can hibernate in comfort and peace. While it can be sad to say a temporary goodbye for the season, it also means that care costs for tortoises aren’t the same throughout the year. Make sure to research the breed of the tortoise you buy to learn more about specific care needs and hibernation habits.
3) Tortoises don’t shed.
We can’t overlook the significance of this. One reason that animal lovers turn to reptiles and other unusual animals is because of their allergies. It is estimated that 10% of people have some form of allergy to animals. This can be 1 in 7 children. That is a large proportion of the population that can’t own a cat or dog. In fact, cat allergies are said to be twice as likely as dog allergies. This all comes down to the dander in the fur. Pets shed over the furniture, the particles under the atmosphere and those with allergies swell up and can’t stop sneezing.
One answer to this – for dog lovers at least – is to get a hypoallergenic breed. The other option is to opt for an animal that doesn’t have any hair at all. Hairless cats do exist. They are an acquired taste with their creepy looks and bad temperaments. Reptiles are a much more interesting option. They can be more affectionate, easy to care for and more attractive. The tortoise is one of the best options.
4) Tortoises are cleaner than you might expect.
Another problem with cat or dog ownership is the amount of mess that they can make. Even when it comes time to give them a bath they can send the water everywhere and it’s a massive chore. Take a dog for a walk in the countryside, especially on a muddy day, and they will come back with dirt all over them. The smell isn’t great either. If you aren’t careful, this ends up all over the house.
Tortoises are a lot different. They are pretty clean animals by comparison and don’t need the same amount of cleaning. They do need regular bathing because they need to stay hydrated. But, this isn’t the same process as a dog bath. They also don’t carry much of a smell. Some can smell a little musty from time to time. Most are fairly odorless as far as we are concerned. This all means that grooming isn’t really an issue at all with these animals. This isn’t like a dog where your brushing fur, cleaning teeth, trimming nails and checking for ticks all the time.
5) Tortoises don’t leave the same sort of mess behind.
Another important difference in cleanliness is the droppings left behind. Dogs are the worst in this regard. Even after you manage to finally house train them, they still leave big, smelly deposits in your yard. Puppy training also means some messy clean-up jobs in the home and lots of pads for accidents. Cats aren’t so bad. They at least have the decency to use a litter tray and bury their mess. Tortoises aren’t so easy to housebreak. They are slower learners and not that fussed about where they go. Still, these small, hard droppings aren’t too difficult to clean up. Pick them up with a cloth, spot clean the surface and carry on with your day.
6) Tortoises are loving, friendly creatures (most of the time).
Some people will be put off from getting a reptile because they believe them to be emotionless creatures. The love and companionship that you get from a dog are difficult to put into words. They always want to play and express love. They are also highly emotive – from wagging tails to puppy dog eyes. Cats can be a little more standoffish but will still purr at you as they enjoy a good stroke.
What surprises tortoise owners is that they begin to see emotions and personality traits in their animals. They aren’t as expressive as other animals but can still show affection, likes and dislikes. Some will hiss their displease and should a cute stubborn streak. Others will seek out company and form fairly close bonds with their owners. Tortoise owners can be accused of projecting personalities onto their animals. But, isn’t the same true for other domesticated species?
There is also the fact that these animals also like to be stroked. There are two ways that you can do this and give pleasure to a tortoise. The first is to stroke at the skin around their neck. This form of petting is the most direct way to show affection. You can also stroke their shell. You might expect this shell to be hard and have no sensation at all. However, there are some nerve ending here and tortoises do seem to like the experience. Either process can strengthen the bonding experience between you.
7) Tortoises will be your friend for life.
This is the one things that pretty much everyone knows about tortoises – regardless of their knowledge of animals. Tortoises can live for a very long time and this is true both in captivity and the wild. With a small pet tortoise, we aren’t talking about the 100+ years of the giants of Galapagos. But, these creatures can live as long as many humans. 70 years is probably the maximum but it can depend on the breed. Compare this to your faithful dog that may not live more than 10-15 years.
Some people see this as a downside of getting a tortoise because this is a life-long commitment. If you are 30 and you buy a young tortoise, it may outlive you. Tortoise owners are urged to consider this carefully. This is your companion for life and you need to provide for it in life and after your death. The upside is that you are unlikely to have to go through the heartache of pet bereavement unless your pet falls ill.
8) Tortoises can be safer than you think.
Tortoises can get a bit of a bad reputation because of the link between them and salmonella. There are warning not to let kids near them, just in case. However, there are lots of households that bring kids up around tortoises with no problems at all. At long as you bring up your kids to respect the animals and stay hygienic then there should be little risk. There are also those that worry about tortoises biting kids. There is no denying that the beak of the tortoise can be pretty sharp. Some larger breeds can inflict significant wounds. But, there is no reason for the animal to do so unless it feels threatened.
Besides, we can’t talk about all these possible health and safety risks without going back to our beloved cats and dogs. Cats scratch. Get on the wrong side of one of those and you will no about it. An untrained dog can inflict a nasty bite too. It would also be interesting to know how many people that are completely against tortoises for hygiene reasons would let a dog lick their kid’s mouth. You don’t know what your dogs have been eating or licking – or maybe you do and still accept their kisses
9) Tortoises can teach kids to respect all animals.
Kids develop a love for the natural world through all sorts of environments and encounters. Some become passionate about the wildlife in their neighbourhoods or the exotic animals at the zoo. Many will also learn to love and respect animals through their own pets. A tortoise shows kids that animals don’t have to be fluffy to be cute and loveable. They also show them that there is more to reptiles than the stereotypes about snakes and crocodiles. In fact, they may gain a new respect for animal life more generally with a tortoise companion.
Furthermore, the simple care needs and living arrangements of the tortoise mean that kids can help to look after them. They can help prepare their daily meal, clean up any mess and make sure that there is enough heat and water. None of these jobs are that difficult or messy compared to other animals.
10) Tortoises are adorable.
If you are less than convinced that a reptile can be adorable, look up videos of tortoises eating strawberries on YouTube. Watch their little faces as they munch down on the fruit and try not to go “aww!”. They are at their cutest when they are babies and grow into their adult looks. Yet, an adult can still be pretty cute when it wants to be. Again, it is all about misconceptions about animals with fur and animals with scales. Get to know a tortoise and see how wonderful they can be.
A tortoise is a wonderful pet that brings joy to different generations.
As you can see, there are more benefits to owning a tortoise than you might expect. If you buy a pet tortoise then you have a companion for life. While this can be daunting, and does require some thought about their care needs in old age, it is also rewarding. There are tortoise owners that share everything with these creatures. They share a home with an easy-going flatmate with basic care needs and minimal smell. They share bonding time with petting, feeding and bathing for countless years. They even find that these animals can be pretty good listeners when they have had a bad day. That may be partly down to the fact that a tortoise can’t run away from the conversation.
Beyond that, these pets become part of the family. When tortoise owners marry, their new bride or groom is marrying into this partnership. Their kids then get to grow up with an adorable, fun companion and learn to respect animals of all kinds. They may even inherit the tortoise in later life and pass on their love and knowledge to the next generation.
However, you do need to do your research before selecting and raising a tortoise.
There are some important considerations before getting a tortoise. First of all, make sure that you really do have that commitment to this animal. They may be low-maintenance and in hibernation for part of the year but they still have strict care needs. There are also different species out there that come in various sizes. Make sure you know what the animal is, the specific needs it has and how big it will grow. Also, make sure to get your tortoise from a reliable source. The last thing you want is to be part of the illegal pet trade with smuggled animals or eggs.
If you are happy to go into this with an open mind, a clear head and an open heart, you could soon appreciate the benefits of owning a tortoise for yourself. You may even wonder how you ever lived without one. Do your research, learn about the species, prep the home and enjoy this wonderful animal.