On this page we have tried to answer some of the more common Meditterranean & Horsfield tortoise questions we receive.

If you have any additional questions that you think would be handy if answered on this page please ask via our contact page.

Please also see our FREE Tortoise Care Booklet here, which is full of helpful information for any Mediterranean or Horsfield tortoise owner.

Remember Mediterranean and Horsfield tortoises take the same general care as each other.

General Care

Yes, fresh water should be supplied daily and left in the run, indoor and outdoor. Regular bathing also helps to keep your tortoise hydrated, but should not be a replacement for the water dish
Young tortoises (under 1 year) must be bathed daily. However, there is no harm in continuing this practice into adulthood, especially during extreme weather, overwintering, heatwaves, etc.

Not all tortoises will take themselves into their water bowl for a drink, so it is important to keep control of your tortoise's hydration, to ensure perfect health.

A tortoise's natural diet consists of weeds and flowers. It is important, where possible to feed as natural a diet as possible. You can find our edible food list in our care booklet, along with a link to a very handy plant database website.

Edible foods include, but are not limited to; Cat's Ears, Sow Thistle, Hawk Bits, Hawks-Beard, Plantain (the weed), Pansies, Hibiscus, Musk Mallow, Malope Mallow, Mulberry, Prickly Pear, Lambs lettuce

As a general rule, you should offer an amount of food equivalent to the size of your tortoise's shell. They should be fed once a day, 5 days a week.

The 2 starve days can be implemented at any time, in any order. This allows the slow-working digestive system to catch up, removing the tortoise's need for a self starvation period in the summer.

Preparation for winter feeding should start in Autumn, this will give adequate time for your indoor flowers to grow, ready for feeding. Alternatively, there are a few bits you can buy at the supermarket, but this can only be temporary whilst your flowers are growing.

No, pellets are unnatural, high in protein, sugars and preservatives, just like feeding a child a complete chocolate diet forever.

They also contain ingredients that are addictive, which prevent the tortoise from ever going back to a natural diet (without going through a detox).

As most vitamin powder contains calcium, please always ensure that you only use one or the other as part of a varied diet. Whichever you choose, it is recommended to sprinkle a light dusting onto food 2-3 times per week.

Like cats and dogs, it is important to worm your tortoise twice a year, as a preventative. We recommend doing this at the end of Autumn/start or winter and again at the start of spring. It is a simple process that can be done by a vet or using the worming powder from our Accessories category.

Yes, we worm our tortoises on the day they arrive from the breeder. However, where possible we do feed weeds from our garden's, therefore, it is important for you to keep up with worming your tortoise regularly.

As with all animals and people, timing and consistency of your tortoise's toilet habits will vary depending on what they are eating and how much.

You may see your tortoise excrete "white goo" occasionally, if your tortoise is well hydrated, it will be a yogurt consistency and is a perfectly natural bodily function that can sometimes range from yellowy to grey.

A lot of older, larger tortoises eventually become large enough to roam freely around the garden. The Outdoor Shelter can be left open in the garden to provide the tortoise with some cover from the sun.

It has access to the top, for you to lift your tortoise out to bring indoors at night, or during adverse weather. It also closes at the front, prevent other animals gaining access when it is not in use.

Tortoises carry the same strain of salmonella as cats and dogs. This strain is only present in the animal's poo. Those who practice good hygiene and wash their hands after handling their pets, pet bedding and cleaning up after their animal, will not catch salmonella.

Children must be supervised and taught very early, the importance of washing hands before and after handling any pet.

Tortoises go all winter without UV in the wild, as long as your tortoise is kept warm, it will survive a couple of weeks if you need to time to source another.

We recommend keeping a spare combination bulb for emergencies, alternatively, a spot bulb will suffice until you source a replacement.

The main thing here is not to panic. Although it can seem like your tortoise cannot right itself, there are many tortoises that can. If you find your tortoise on it's back, close to or under the lamp and you are unsure of how long it has been that way, we recommend putting it in a warm bath. Dehydration is our main concern in this instance, with young tortoises. If you see your tortoise turn over, try not to turn them back right away, fluff up some bedding or move something close to it, so it can push off and attempt to right itself. For very young tortoises, try to keep the bedding fluffed, so the tortoise tips at an angle and not directly on it's back, this way it'll be easier to right itself. Avoid putting things like bridges directly under the lamp, where a tortoise could tip or fall and be exposed under the lamp for a long period.

Indoor Housing

This is a new fad going around that just doesn't make sense. If your tortoise cannot live in a high humidity vivarium, why would it need a humid area in it's lovely airy tortoise table?

Tortoises do not like like cold, damp areas or high humidity. High humidity is the main cause of respiratory infection and accelerated growth, which in turn results in MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease)

Vivariums are only suitable for tropical species such as Red-Foot and Yellow-Foot tortoises who originate from hot, humid areas. Most other species need low humidity and lots of air, making the tortoise table a better option.

Note: we will not deliver one of our baby tortoises if we believe you intend to put it in a vivarium.

There is no sun to provide heat and light at night in the wild, therefore, it is not necessary in captivity.

With heat mats, they are generally recommended to be placed in the bedroom, this is your tortoise's cool spot, to escape the heat and cool down, it should never be heated. Combination and/or spot bulbs provide enough heat for the roaming area, leaving heat mats another unnecessary product.

It is important to check the recommendation on the box of your bulb as distance varies on the wattage. You must also own a thermometer to ensure the height is correct and providing a heat of 32-35 degrees celcius, with the thermometer resting on top of the bedding/substrate.

There are a number of bedding/substrate available for tortoises. We personally very much like to use dry bedding, such as Aspen (a soft shredded wood based substrate), Kritters Crumble (a less soil based version of coconut husk) and Pellet bedding (compressed grass pellets). These options are organic, tortoise friendly and leave less dust than soil based products.

Your tortoise table needs to be situated in a room that is lived in, to ensure the ambient room temperature is around 22-25 degrees during the day. Ideally away from windows, door or general draughts.

Be aware that households with pets and small children, as well as having a mesh lid, should also seek a higher area to place the tortoise table, out of reach.

Your combination lighting (or separate UV and spot light) should be on for 8-10 hours during the day. It should never be left on at night, nor should it contradict natural daylight, unless overwintering.

We recommend something along the lines of 7am-5pm, 8am-6pm, etc.

Mercury vapour bulbs, although they have a long lifespan, can seem quite temperamental. Knocks, tilts and loosening of the bulb/lamp can cause the bulb to flicker or cut out. Your lamp needs to be suspended vertically, with the bulb screwed in tight. Tightening regularly will help avoid cutting out in the middle of the day (only tighten your bulb when it is switched off and cooled down).

If your bulb is flickering, it can seem like wiggling the wires is connected to the flickering in your bulb and seems to "fix" the issue. However, all you are doing is damaging your lamp. The bulb will flicker when the gasses are unbalanced, as a result of any kind of knock, tilting or loosening of the lamp. It is pure coincidence that moving the wire settles the gasses and your bulb stops flickering. This is all down to the movement of the bulb itself.

Your lamp will not switch on instantly after being switched off. Mercury vapour bulbs contain a small amount of gas, this needs to have cooled completely for the bulb to work. Always allow 20 minutes for your bulb to cool down, before attempting to switch it back on.

Reptile lamps are equipped with a failsafe, this means that sometimes when your lamp blows, the next bulb you put in may not work. This is unlikely a fault with your lamp, but the failsafe, which blows the fuse to prevent any serious incidents. Check your lamp with a household bulb before putting a new mercury vapour bulb in and then change the fuse if necessary. 

If you are blowing multiple bulbs, we recommend investing in a surge protector. You may think surges do not affect you, due to your tortoise lamp being the only electrical in the house effected, however, this is down to the sensitive nature of reptile lighting, they will feel a surge a lot more than your household bulbs, as they are built for heat, rather than light and have higher failsafe sensitivity.

Outdoor Housing

No, tortoises, regardless of size, should either be supervised or in a wooden run with a mesh top to protect from predators.

Birds of all sizes will try to pick up a tortoise and often succeed.

No, the natural nighttime temperature your tortoise would experience in the wild, is very high compared to our rubbish summers and cool nights. It will be too cold, causing your tortoise to feel the need to dig.

There is also higher risk of predators at night, foxes, cats, owls, rats and even dogs.

T-shirt weather is tortoise weather. If it is warm enough for you to sit outside comfortably, without a jacket (sun and shade), it is warm enough for your tortoise.

We know a lot more now, than we did back then. There are no tortoise's that originate from this country, because we do not have the correct climate to suit any species. Therefore, we should not be keeping our tortoises outdoors all year round.

Remember, just because it's alive doesn't mean it's healthy.

Deliveries FAQ's

There are two ways in which you can receive your tortoise;

Collection – Usually the best way to receive your tortoise is to come over to the office and collect it! This way, you get to see how the tortoises live when they are with us, and you are able to choose your own new family member. You will also be able to have a face to face conversation with one of our staff members, so any questions you may have can be answered there and then. Once an order has been placed we will contact you to arrange an appointment for collection.


Delivery – Don’t worry if you are unable to collect your tortoise yourself, you can have your new addition delivered to an address of your choice instead. Our Livestock Courier collects from us every Wednesday and delivers every Thursday. Once an order has been placed we will contact you to arrange the delivery. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Follow this link for pricing information https://www.thetortoiseshop.com/delivery-information

Free delivery on Orders over £25.00, Orders under £25.00 a £4.99 delivery applies on all food, bedding, lighting & accessories.

Free of charge delivery exclusions inc Scottish Highlands, Channel Isles, Isle of Man, Isle of Scilly, Isle of Wight, Outer Hebrides, Shetland Isles, Orkney Isle, Northern Ireland, Aberdeenshire.

Follow this link for normal pricing information https://www.thetortoiseshop.com/delivery-information

Offer excludes tortoises, indoor housing and outdoor housing.
Due to the courier being livestock only and not only delivering for us all in one day. The delivery timescale needs to stay open to allow for anything that could cause delay or speed up the delivery; from accidents to traffic flow. Although the driver may call or text with a timeslot, we ask that you do not take this as an opportunity to "pop out", as there is always a chance your driver's timings could change and they could turn up at any time with little to no notice.

The driver will have your mobile number and will call if they arrive and you are not there. Bear in mind they are not obliged to wait for you if you cannot get home in 5 minutes and they are on a tight schedule, so may not even be able to wait that. If your driver cannot get in touch with you when you are not home, they will leave and notify us that they were unable to deliver. We will then have to collect the tortoise from the hub the next day, to ensure the tortoise's welfare. Upon return of the tortoise we will refund your tortoise minus your delivery fee and the return fee (this is the delivery you paid multiplied by 2). You will then be blacklisted on our site and no longer able to purchase a tortoise from us.

General FAQs

We are happy to help if you are having troubles with your internet or cannot navigate online orders well.

However, we do not always have time to take an order over the phone, so ask if you are able, please always order through the website.

Please note, calls are not recorded and with accents and language barriers, we do not always enter in the correct information. This can result in a parcel going to an incorrect postcode (i.e. if we think we heard P, but it was T).

We are only human, mistakes can be made. As Yorkshire girls, you may not understand us either.

It's very simple; find your preferred tortoise species, decide whether you want it on it's own (to build or buy your own tortoise table) or as part of a complete setup, add your order to cart, navigate the checkout and your tortoise is all yours.

Once we process your tortoise order (during opening hours only), we will send you an email explaining our delivery procedure and request that you choose a delivery date that best suits you.

Deliveries are made every Thursday on an all day call. We will not deliver your tortoise until you confirm that you will be home all day on the date you request.

If it will not let you checkout without entering a password, you have checked the "create an account" box. Uncheck this box and you carry on your checkout as a guest.

Alternatively, entering a password will create an account and you will be able to keep track of your recent and future orders.

The box stating that "my delivery address is the same as my billing address" is checked as default. Uncheck this box and it will extend the page to allow you enter an additional address.

If you cannot click to continue onto the next page, there is either a required box unfilled or the Terms and Conditions box (next to continue button) has been left unchecked.

The main and most important difference that, from experience, many do not know is sink or swim. Tortoise cannot swim, though they can hold their breath for a long deep drink, they will sink in water and eventually drown.

If you want to go into more differences, turtles have webbed feet, more amphibious skin (rather than scales) and require access to both land and water deep enough to swim in.

Tortoises, as strictly land animals, only require a water bowl to drink out of and we recommend a daily bath, no deeper than under the chin.

Certificates, Licensing and Microchipping

Certain species do require an Article 10 Certificate. In terms of species we sell, the species that require a certificate are Hermanns, Marginated and all sub-species of Spur-Thigh. It is the responsibility of the seller to apply for the certificate, so you do not have to worry about getting one before buying a tortoise.

Think of it like a birth certificate. Without it, you cannot prove it's origin or apply for more if your tortoise has babies. Put it away with your important documents and DO NOT LOSE IT.

This is what you receive when you purchase a tortoise smaller than 100mm. These tortoises are too small to microchip, therefore have a different certificate to those who are microchipped (see next question). This copy is sent to you as, by law, we only have to give you the certificate number, but feel it is better to send you a photocopy, as that is easier to store and keep safe. The original has to be returned to APHA (formerly DEFRA) as soon as the tortoise leaves us.

This certificate has our name and address on, therefore, if you wish to sell your tortoise on, legally, you must chip your tortoise and apply for a species specific certificate.

This means you have received the one and only certificate for your tortoise, there will be no other copies anywhere else. This is a species specific certificate, required by law, for tortoises over 60mm. This means your tortoise will be microchipped and there will be a long number underneath the hatch date. This is your microchip number, it is blank, so will need registering on Pet Registry UK.

This certificate MUST stay with your tortoise it's entire life, there is no need to apply for another.

As mentioned above, if your certificate was a photocopy, then the original has already been returned to APHA (formally DEFRA). If you had a yellow certificate, you had the only copy.

We do not keep records of certificate numbers, your certificate is your responsibility.

It is not easy to apply for a new certificate without background information. You certificate number, not only holds important information like country of origin, but also parental information. So you will always know where your tortoise came from. Applying anew will remove such important information, such as country of origin.

Microchipping is only required to sell a tortoise, when the tortoise is 6cm or over.

If you are purchasing a newly hatched baby in the summer/autumn, your tortoise will be too small to microchip and also be under the required chipping size.

If you happen to be purchasing your tortoise in the Spring and the tortoises are listed as microchipped, they will be coming up to a year old and will have already reached chipping size.

Always read the description when purchasing a tortoise, we will always state if the tortoise is microchipped (we will not state if they are not).

On your certificate under the hatch date, there will be a long number, this is your tortoise's microchip number

Your tortoise's microchip is blank. It is not registered to the breeder, ourselves, or yourself. You must register your microchip on Pet Registry UK to your own name, address and contact details.