What Are the Different Pet Tortoise Species?

C.B. Fox

There are dozens of species of tortoise in the world, and in the pet trade, many species of tortoise are kept in private collections. The most common pet tortoise species are the Russian tortoise, Hermann's tortoise, the leopard tortoise, the red-footed tortoise and the sulcata tortoise. Each of these tortoise species has different care requirements, so a person looking to adopt one should carefully consider whether the particular species of tortoise will make a good pet.

There are dozens of species of tortoises, and some will live up to hundreds of years old while others can weigh in the hundreds of pounds.
There are dozens of species of tortoises, and some will live up to hundreds of years old while others can weigh in the hundreds of pounds.

One of the more common pet tortoise species is the Russian tortoise. This type of tortoise remains small, never growing larger than about 10 inches (25 cm). If properly fed and cared for, the Russian tortoise will live 100 years or more. Members of this species eat many different types of plants and should be fed a variety of fresh greens. These tortoises require housing that provides air circulation and controlled temperatures.

Another pet tortoise species is the Hermann's tortoise. These tortoises also remain small and do not get larger than 10 inches (25 cm). Like the Russian tortoise, the Hermann's tortoise requires warmth and humidity and eats green, leafy plants. This species of tortoise does well when kept outdoors in warm climates.

The leopard tortoise is a species known for its striking coloration, reminiscent of a leopard's spots. A large tortoise, the leopard tortoise often grows to a length of 1.5 feet (45.7 cm) and can weight 50 pounds (28.7 kg) or more. They do best when kept outdoors in large pens, though they can suffer from breathing problems in cool or humid climates. In the wild, these tortoises are found in grasslands, and the bulk of their diet in captivity usually consists of hay.

Red-footed tortoises are a pet tortoise species that grows to be about 14 inches (36 cm) long and is commonly kept in terrariums indoors. In the wild, these tortoises are omnivorous, and captive members of the species need to be given a protein source, such as dog food, regularly. They are a tropical species of tortoise and do well in tanks that are kept warm and moist.

The very large sulcata tortoise is another of the commonly kept pet tortoise species. These tortoises grow to be 1.5 feet long (45.7 cm) and often weigh about 80 pounds (36 kg). Native to desert regions, these tortoises have adapted to reach their full size rather quickly, so a person looking to keep one as a pet will need to be prepared to house a full-sized reptile within a few years. This species does best when allowed to graze outdoors for food.

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Discussion Comments


@QuirkyMango- You can add pets to your will to make sure your wishes for them are carried out. However, you may have to find someone who is willing to take the pet when you die.

I've heard of people who have pets that live a long time, like parrots and tortoise species, and they find someone who they can name in their will to care for the pet when they die. If not, pets probably go to shelters or something.


If you adopt a pet tortoise that lives 100 years or more, it will outlive you. Does this mean you need to find someone to care for the tortoise, such as leaving it to someone in your will, to make sure it has a good home when you die?

I know this sounds silly to some people, but I am an animal lover, and I think people need to consider pets when making end-life arrangements.

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