The Turtle: Species-Appropriate Husbandry Outside

When kept in a species-appropriate manner, tortoises can live up to 80 years. Maintaining these leisurely loners isn’t all that complicated.

Who doesn’t love looking at these leisurely animals? Their wise faces and neat armor are fascinating. Tortoises have lived on our planet for millions of years, so they already existed in dinosaur times. Worldwide there are more than 327 species of turtles with around 200 subspecies. The Greek tortoise is particularly popular. At around 25 centimeters in length, it is relatively small, and caring for it is not that complicated if you know what its needs are.

The animals can only reach their old age of 80 years if they are kept in a species-appropriate manner. Turtles must not be kept in the terrarium or in the apartment! “Every day inside is harmful to the animal,” says the reptile veterinarian Kornelis Biron. The light-hungry beings absolutely belong outside in an enclosure. Without UV-B rays, your body will not produce any vitamin D. Disturbances in bone structure are a possible consequence if you don’t get enough sun and it doesn’t cool down enough at night.

Keeping Turtles in the Garden

It is best to keep the wandering creature in a garden enclosure of around ten square meters. For each additional animal, there is an additional ten square meters. However, never more than one male is allowed to live in an enclosure because they fight each other down to the blood. Turtles like to climb and dig. The enclosure boundary should be escape-proof.

“Make your environment wild,” says the vet. Branches, roots, stones, and mounds are ideal. Build a tunnel out of pavement slabs for her to hide in. Set up a bathing area for her. Loamy soil is cheap. Gravel, mulch, or a substrate made of small pieces of wood are unsuitable.

A small greenhouse in the enclosure makes it pleasant to stay outdoors even in spring and autumn. These vegetarians particularly like wild plants such as clover, nettles, dandelions, and ground grass, and they should always be given hay. Lettuce is rarely allowed to be fed. Fruits and vegetables do not belong on their menu at all.

The Hibernation of Turtles

Turtles are cold-blooded animals and cannot freeze. In the fall, they shut down their metabolism, they lose their appetite and they get tired. The turtle absolutely needs this hibernation between November and March!

To do this, put your animal in a box prepared with leaves or damp moss and put it in an unused refrigerator at six to nine degrees. This is safer than wintering in the garden, where the temperature fluctuates or rats disturb their rest. You should check on her once a week to see if there are any problems. A “transition period” in the terrarium must absolutely be avoided! With the first warm rays of sunshine, carry the box into the enclosure. The turtle will soon come to life, then it will slowly make its rounds again …

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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