Tips for tortoise tenders


The April 14th Malibu Times featured a photo of a Russian tortoise that laid eggs much to the owner’s surprise and delight. It is wonderful to see the eggs being laid. However, two things were sad about the accompanying photo. One, Russian tortoises are notoriously unhappy in a tank where these two apparently live. Russians need freedom and wildness that only an outdoor home will satisfy. We never adopt tortoises or turtles to our members unless they agree to make a suitable outdoor habitat. Living in a tank for a tortoise or turtle is like a human having to live in the bathtub for the rest of his or her life. Imagine how sad that would be.

How else do I know that this is an unhappy tortoise besides the fact that it is in a tank? It laid the eggs in some sort of weird substrate and did it on top of the substrate. A happy healthy tortoise will find a suitable spot and dig a hole to lay its eggs in, not leave the egg on top of the surface. I know many owners do not always know the basics of tortoise keeping, but now that this one has learned something new, maybe he will build that great new home for his tortoises. Oh, by the way, Russians are incredible escape artists. Make sure that the borders of the habitat are very secure and that there are no dogs allowed in!

Susan Tellem / American Tortoise Rescue