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How to set up a Tortoise Table

Monday, March 07, 2016

Tortoise tables (for most species) are the ideal way to house your young tortoise. 

Here are a few steps for setting up your tortoise table:

1. The larger the better. As a rough guide sub-adult tortoises should be provided with a MINIMUM of 5ft x 3ft x 2ft table.

2. Line your table with pond liner or thick plastic to avoid any seeping of substrate or water.

3. A temperature gradient specific to your species is essential. This is best achieved by hanging a heat source from a lamp at one end of the table. 

4. Ultraviolet light in tortoises, like all reptiles, is essential. This should be provided across the widest area of the table.

5. Provide a water source large enough for the tortoise to sit in completely. Seed trays with no holes are great for this.

6. Areas of shade, places to hide or things to climb on should always be provided. 

7. Your tortoise table can be planted with edible plants and weeds. However, these may not last very long.

8. Substrate is very important, with a sterilised soil substrate being the most appropriate for the majority of species. This should be deep enough for your tortoise to bury themselves in. 

9. Feed your tortoise off a piece of slate- ideally at the cool end of the tortoise table. This will prevent the food from wilting and can help trim your tortoise’s beak down.

10. Your table should be scattered with lump chalk or cuttlefish bone. Numerous sources are ideal and will allow your tortoise to take in extra calcium and keep their beak in good condition. 

11. If you have inquisitive pets or children, fit your tortoise table with a removable mesh lid to help protect your tortoise. 

Eventually, when your tortoise has reached adulthood, they may need to be moved in to different housing. Depending on the species, this could be in a vivarium (suitable for Redfoots and other tropical species) or outside in a specially built enclosure with vast areas of land to graze (e.g. Sulcata breeds).

If you need some advice about housing and/or husbandry for your tortoise, please speak to a member of our Exotic Species team on 01275 832410 or via our Highcroft Exotic Vets Facebook page. 


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