Five important points to consider when buying a Tortoise
Tortoises are unique and fascinating creatures. If you are thinking of buying a new pet tortoise, just like with any other pet, it is important to plan and prepare. This checklist will help make sure you are ready BEFORE purchasing a tortoise.
- Know the Species
African spur-thigh tortoises (Geochelone sulcata), leopard tortoises (Geochelone pardalis) and star tortoises (Geochelone elegans) are some of the most commonly seen tortoises in Hong Kong.
- Know the source
Are they captive-bred or caught from the wild? It is best to buy tortoises that are captive-bred. Those caught from the wild are usually parasite-ridden. The main reason for buying captive-bred tortoises is that trapping wild tortoises to be sold as pets is ecologically harmful and depletes the environment of the natural stock of tortoises. Make sure to ask the pet shop where the tortoises are from.
- Is a pet Tortoise the right pet for you?
Tortoises are NOT recommended for children or for those who think just simply providing a tank and throwing in some lettuce will do the job. Owning a tortoise requires a lot of financial investment, space and intellectual effort.
- Will you be able to provide a proper home?
Be prepared that some of the species grow to be very large and will require a large living space as well as an outdoor enclosure. Also, be prepared that some species live very long lives.
- Get educated
Learn as much as you can about your tortoise and its natural living environment before you buy them. Books, websites and friends who have successfully owned tortoises may help you out.
Quarantine and Veterinary Care
Once you have your pet tortoise please remember:
- Do NOT mix different species of tortoises. Because different species of tortoises come from different areas of the world, they require different environments and diets.
- New arrivals should NEVER be placed with your own collection – total isolation is advised for at least 3-6 months. This is to prevent introduction of diseases from the new tortoise.
- Any newly acquired tortoise should be brought to the veterinarian for a body check.
- Tortoises do not require routine vaccinations like dogs, but just like your dog and cat, they should be brought to the veterinarian at least once yearly for a body check.