Rio Grande Turtle & Tortoise Club
If you are interested in adopting a turtle or a tortoise, please join our Facebook Group for more information. Not a member of Facebook? Have a friend or family member post on your behalf!
Keep in mind these facts about turtles and tortoises:
- Your hard-shelled pet may outlive you; all species live many decades, some over 100 years. Who will take your turtle(s) when you pass away?
- Each species has its own unique dietary requirements to thrive; you cannot simply put a turtle in your yard to fend for itself with occasional supplemental feeding. No matter how “naturalistic” your yard is, it doesn’t contain the full range of foods these animals need to stay healthy.
- Box turtles and tortoises do not do well in aquariums. They need spacious, properly furnished indoor or outdoors enclosures, a small walled courtyard, or a sectioned-off area in your yard that meets their habitat needs and where you can reliably find and care for them on a daily basis.
- Many species of turtles, including all age classes of Western (Ornate) Box Turtles, and small tortoises are easily predated by raccoons. Consider predator-proofing your turtle habitat if you don’t want to find legless live turtles or empty shells in the morning. If you think raccoons aren’t visiting your yard, consider how often you are out there at 3 a.m!
- Turtles and dogs do not mix. Most dogs do not eat turtles; rather they play roughly with them, tossing them around and generally regarding turtles as chew toys. Like coyotes, wolves, and bears, even small dogs can crack the shell of a box turtle and cause serious if not fatal damage.
- Tropical species of turtles and tortoise common in the pet trade do not hibernate in winter. They require climate-controlled winter quarters that meet all their habitat requirements. This can be expensive. Free-range on the floor in a heated house is substandard winter quarters; at turtle-height, this world can actually be quite drafty and cool as well as too dry for humid-loving tropical species.
- Species, like box turtles, that hibernate during the winter can only do so outdoors or in specially designed hibernation chambers (such chambers are commercially available but require advanced skills to use successfully). A garage or unheated room in your house will not work as a hibernaculum! The temperature in a garage vacillates too strongly to be safe, and indoor temperatures are never cold enough. The animal may be too cold to move and may appear “asleep” but it will not be in a true winter torpor. It will actually be slowly starving and becoming more dehydrated, leaving it vulnerable to life-threatening illness.
- Like any pet, turtles and tortoises may require veterinary care if they become ill or are injured; it can be pricey and require an expensive indoor set-up during recovery. We can advise you on finding a qualified vet in your area and what’s needed for such an “R&R set-up.”
- Turtles and tortoises may eagerly approach you for food. But most do NOT like to be handled or petted; if you want a cuddly pet, consider a friendly mammal.
- Turtles and tortoises do not want or need “friends” or mates to be content. Most species live solitary lives in the wild and do not have long-term social bonds with any other animal.
- Males mostly dislike each other; at best they tolerate one another; at worst they make each other’s life miserable with bullying or even life-threatening attacks. Make their life great; let them live alone, king of their home! Putting males and females together can be stressful on everyone, especially the females who will likely be overbred. In many species of turtles and tortoises, the females can store sperm, producing babies for four years or more after just one mating! Enjoy the pets you adopt but refrain from breeding them; there are always more animals needing homes than there are quality homes available for them.