10 Best Pet Tortoise Breeds for Beginners

10 Best Pet Tortoise Breeds for beginners

So, you are looking to buy a pet, and are considering tortoises?

 It is an amazing choice, tortoises are calm and peaceful animals with long life and friendly nature. These pets are not costly and are easy to house. They also do not suffer illnesses when their necessities are taken care of properly.

You have a variety of options with these animals, as it has many species. Most the species of tortoises have proven to be excellent pets. In this article, we will present to you the top 10 best pet tortoises for beginners.

Although these animals are easy to handle, as a beginner you must pick the easiest ones to handle and work your way up over time.

To break it down into simpler parts, we will discuss some things that are to be considered while getting a pet tortoise.

Things to Consider While Getting a Pet Tortoise.


When you purchase a pet Tortoise the first thing that comes to your mind is where you are supposed to house it, in order to solve this problem you should buy a tortoise table.

Tortoise tables are the best because they are made out of wood, so they prove to be strong and durable. Wood is also an insulator of heat this keeps the temperatures within the enclosures to remain moderate.

The first thing to keep in mind while housing a young tortoise is to have a large enclosure called a tortoise table. A basking spot of 30-35 degrees celsius should be provided inside the enclosure, which should be set with a timer to warm the temperature for 12 hours a day.

And if you live in cooler climates, then you should buy a vivarium to retain warm temperatures within the enclosure.


Tortoises eat vegetables, fruits, leaves, and even flowers. For vegetables, Carrots, green beans, endive, kale, and turnip greens are all good choices.

Feed hatchlings and young tortoises on a daily basis, or split the daily ration in half and feed in the morning and afternoon.

Adult tortoises can be fed daily or omitted from feeding for one day each week, yet keep an eye on how much or how little your tortoise eats.

The following food should be included in a healthy tortoise diet:

  • Vegetables account for half of the meal.
  • A quarter of the fruit
  • Pellets make up about 25% of the total meal.

Care for Tortoises 

Tortoises do not require to be taken care of a lot, but you must take care of their basking spots, water requirements, and lighting.

Sunlight is very vital for the proper bone growth of your tortoise, tortoise absorbs vitamin D3 from the sunlight, so take them out in the sun for some part of their day or provide them with a basking lamp.

Cost of Tortoises

The average cost of the tortoise is 110–135 dollars, excluding the cost of its enclosure food, and other necessary requirements.

The price of a tortoise table is 80-130 dollars, while the price of a vivarium starts from 180 dollars.

The diet doesn’t cost a lot, simple vegetables and leaves are easily available at a low cost in the market.

Space Requirement.

A pair of tortoises are able to live happily and with enough room in a 10ft × 20ft cage. It all depends on the number and size of tortoises you have.

The tank should be big enough to allow the tortoise to move around freely. 

You should look for a bigger tank as your tortoise grows, the tank should be at least 4 times the size of the tortoise so they don’t feel trapped.

If you own a bigger house and the climates are as per the requirements for the tortoise, then you can also let these tortoises out in your garden or yard, just make sure that the garden or yard is fenced and predator-free.


This is one of the most important aspects of buying a tortoise, check whether it is legal to own a pet tortoise in your country. Always read the terms and conditions on the official websites of your country regarding the legality of these exotic pets.

10 Great Pet Tortoises for Beginners.

Greek Tortoise

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The greek tortoise also commonly known as the spur-thighed tortoise, is worth mentioning in this article, these beautiful creatures are beginner-friendly and their nature is lax. They get along with humans as well as other tortoises, they are also very popular in the pet world. It is comparatively easy to find greek tortoises in the pet shops, due to their rising demand.

This tortoise is known by the patterns on its shell, which resemble a typical Greek mosaic with distinct colored dots and borders. The carapace of a Greek tortoise is domed, the head is flat with huge eyes, the legs have massive scales, and the claws are robust. 

You may think that greek tortoises originate from Greece, and the answer to this is yes, you can find them in Greece. 

North Africa, Southern Europe, and Southwest Asia are all home to the Greek tortoise.

It’s common in the Caucasus’ Black Sea coast (from Anapa, Russia, to Sukhumi, Abkhazia, Georgia, in the south), as well as in other parts of Georgia, Armenia, Iran, and Azerbaijan.

Adding to their friendly nature and easy-to-handle traits, these tortoises are absolutely gorgeous.

The shell of greek tortoises are perfectly dome-shaped, and the color of their shell is light brown and black. The size ranges from 5 to 10 inches, but they do not grow for more than 10 inches.

They are quite widespread and tend to move around, they do not stick to a specific area like other turtles do and this makes them unique.

These tortoises need hot basking spots, the humidity should lie anywhere between 40-60%, and a temperature of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for them.

Their diet is simple, like most the other tortoises they consume plants, leaves, fruits, and vegetables. They can also eat flowers sometimes.

With adult sizes varying from five to eight inches, these pet tortoises don’t require a large cage to be happy. 

Furthermore, when it comes to décor, they aren’t choosy. 

These tortoises are widely distributed in the wild and do not prefer a specific type of habitat. As a result, they thrive in any well-kept environment.

Their enclosure should be 2×4 feet in size.

These turtles live for more than 50 years, so it’s basically like growing up old with your pet! 

The cost of greek turtles ranges from 250 to 300 dollars.

Russian Tortoise 

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This tortoise has many names, but it is mostly known as the Russian tortoise. As the name speaks for itself, these turtles originate from Russia, but they are found in other Asian countries too like Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan.

The Russian tortoise (Testudo horsfieldii), also known as the Afghan tortoise, Central Asian tortoise, Horsfield’s tortoise, four-clawed tortoise, and (Russian) steppe tortoise, is a specie belonging to the Testudinidae family.

The Russian tortoise is often confused with greek tortoises due to their striking resemblance.

The Russian tortoise is distinguished by its large domed shell, rough skin, and thick stubby legs. The upper section of the shell, called the carapace, is commonly coated in olive green, tan, brown, or black color. The ridges of the scutes are typically tan, but the centers of the individual scutes are darker.

The plastron, or the bottom of the shell, is also dark. It might be completely black or include brown flecks.

Russian tortoises are very humble reptiles and are kept as pets due to their low maintenance and easy handling.

Russian tortoises are very outgoing and active, just like some extrovert humans!

These tortoises live for over 40 years with proper care, caring for them is not hard at all just providing them with the right food and basking spots, talking about food Russian tortoises are herbivores, so they eat plants, vegetables, and fruits.

The Russian tortoises enjoy this food a lot :

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Alfalfa hay
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion greens

Another fun fact about these animals is that they are slow eaters, they eat in 20-30 minutes, so do not rush them, let them complete their meal and they stop eating when they are full.

These turtles are often petite they don’t grow to humongous sizes, the average size of this adorable creature is 8-10 inches and their weight is 2-3 pounds only.

They are also built tough, they can survive in hot and cold temperatures, they know how to protect themselves very well, but do not let them out in extreme weather of course.

If the climate is pleasant and you keep a close eye on your tortoise, you may take your pet Russian tortoise outside for some fresh air and natural UVB from the sun. A Russian tortoise may tolerate a colder temperature for a short period of time, but temperatures should be kept at or near optimum levels.

The optimum level of temperature is 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit.

These turtles may like to explore your house and climb fences of their enclosure, so make sure that the fence or wall of their enclosure is at least a foot tall.

The cost of getting a Russian turtle is very pocket friendly as well.

This mesmerizing pet will only cost you 70-200 dollars.

Indian Star Tortoise

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The Indian star tortoise is a species that can be talked about for hours, but we present to you a summary of this lovely turtle.

The Indian star tortoise originates from India primarily, but they are found in other south Asia countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

This specie is eye-catching and can become your best buddies if you are friendly with them. 

They are also easy to manage, they do not require huge fenced enclosures, you can house them inside as well as outside your house as they can survive in different temperatures, just make sure the temperature is not extremely hot or extremely cold.

You may wonder why they have the word star in their name, well this is because these tortoises have star-shaped patterns on their shell!

The Indian star tortoise has a carapace(upper shell) very different from other tortoises, the carapace of this attractive tortoise has humps all over it, so the carapace is not smooth, it has a grid-like texture to it. The color of its shell is yellow and black, making it very easy to spot in between other species of turtles.

These tortoises are highly demanded due to their star shape patterns, this is why they are becoming threatened, so you must adopt them from a rescue center of reptiles or either buy a hatchling and then raise it.

These turtles can be kept with other tortoises or in groups as they do not fight or cause any disturbance, they get along very well with most of the other species of tortoises.

The Indian star tortoise can grow to a big size, they easily reach the size of 15 inches, and an interesting fact about this astounding creature is that the males are a little smaller than the females!

These turtles will not disturb you by escaping the boundaries of their enclosures, they are innocent tortoises, and they remain in their enclosures themselves.

The life span of this tortoise is 30 to 80 years or even more, if you want these turtles to have an even longer lifetime then provide them with vital nutrients in their food and good basking spots along with monthly visits to the vet just in case.

Like other tortoises, this specific specie is also a herbivore, so provide them with good quality vegetables and fruits for proper growth and health of this magnificent tortoise.

The cost of the Indian star tortoise is 900 dollars and above due to their appearance and high demand.

Leopard Tortoise

The leopard tortoise is another very attractive and enchanting species of tortoises, this tortoise is named after a leopard due to the brown-black patterns of its shell that resembles the leopard’s skin.

The shell has bumps on it. The weight of this tortoise is 20-30 pounds and males weigh more than females.

These tortoises are highly recommended to be kept as pets due to their appearance, long life, and docile nature.

A fact about these tortoises is that they are the fourth largest tortoises in the world, the size of this tortoise is 17 inches and more! 

The leopard tortoise is native to South Africa and Sudan, this indicates that these turtles can survive in warm temperatures and are fond of temperatures over 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit too.

Leopard tortoises are a little different from their fellow tortoises because it munches on nuts too!

These tortoises enjoy eating nuts and grains more than they eat plants and greens. 

When it comes to their housing, we recommend outdoor housing because of their large size, but you can also keep them indoors if you have enough space in your house. On average the enclosure of this turtle should be 4 by 8 feet for an adult tortoise.

This tortoise lives for more than 50 years, studies say that this tortoise has been able to survive for 100 years too.

They despise moisture, so maintain the humidity to a bare minimum. Also, keep the temperature of the basking area between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (26-23 Celsius)

The leopard tortoise does not dig into the soil, so you should not be worried about them ruining your garden.

The price of this tortoise is similar to the other tortoises, it does not cost you a lot getting a leopard tortoise, that’s why it has been recommended in the top 10 best pet tortoises, the price of this beautiful tortoise is 200-300 dollars.

Red-Footed Tortoise

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Red-footed tortoises are extremely beautiful, the red collared marks on its foot and shell make this tortoise very vibrant.

The red-footed tortoises originate from South America and the Caribbean. 

The Red-Footed Tortoise has red legs, a red tail, and sometimes a redhead. As a result, he’s known as the “cherry head.” You may feed it leafy greens, fruits, insects, and tiny mice because it’s both herbivorous and half carnivorous.

They don’t require much upkeep, and their inquisitive curiosity makes them ideal companions.

The enclosures of these tortoises are moderate they do like moving around so a tank of 2 by 4 feet.

The diet of this splendid creature is very basic, just some veggies, like carrots and tomatoes, they also eat fruits mangoes, papaya, and melons. These species are not herbivores though they can also eat small insects and animals.

Red-footed tortoises are clever, have an excellent memory, and can rapidly learn when and where food is available, as well as where to find cover for basking. They have a keen sense of smell and sensitive touch that allows them to detect even the tiniest of touches.

Red-footed tortoises are known for their gregarious nature, which includes sharing food and congregating in small groups.

They are not on the costly side, they only cost 150-400$.

Sulcata Tortoise 

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Sulcata tortoise also known as the African spurred tortoise is a popular specie as they are the third-largest tortoise in the world. The size of this humongous tortoise is 25-30 inches in length! The weight of this tortoise is 25 kgs when fully grown.

Sulcatas may be found in northern Africa, the Sahara Desert, and the semiarid Sahel area. Senegal, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Chad, Mauritania, Eritrea, Mali, and Ethiopia are among the countries where they may be found.

 This species is also a common pet reptile and may be found at zoological facilities all over the world.

Sulcata tortoises are very intelligent, their body requires a lot of fiber so in the wild these animals eat those plants that are high in fiber, their body doesn’t need a lot of protein, so they don’t eat plants rich in proteins. The Sulcata tortoise are herbivores, so the diet that you should provide them must contain plants and vegetables, they can also enjoy eating flowers like nasturtium, geraniums, hibiscus, and rose petals.

As these tortoises are large we recommend that you provide them with outdoor housing, it can be in the garden or back yard of your house. Also, make sure to provide them with a substrate in which they can dig and burrow. 

The temperature requirement for this friendly tortoise is 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit. They can survive in hot temperatures, as compared to the tortoises the Sulcata tortoise requires a warmer temperature.

The behavior of this tortoise is very friendly towards humans, they get along pretty quickly, but when it comes to grouping them with other tortoises, we recommend that you don’t group them as they are big and can bully other smaller tortoises. The Sulcata tortoise is a good pet just do not try to handle them a lot as they don’t prefer being held so often.

The cost of getting a Sulcata tortoise is 50-200 dollars, and they are safe to be kept as pets.

They make great beginner pets as they are long-living, their average life span is 50 years and above. 

Pancake Tortoise 

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Pancake tortoise, what an interesting name for a tortoise! these adorable tortoises are named pancake tortoise due to their flat shell and size.

This specie of tortoise originates from sub-Saharan Africa. 

The size of a fully grown pancake tortoise is 7 inches only!

This petite tortoise makes the cutest pets, and its shell is also very enchanting, it has different patterns of it in brown-yellow, and black colors that remind us of pancakes and maple syrup!

You may think that these tortoises must be slow because most of the tortoises are slow, but these tortoises are actually one of the fastest tortoises. They run when they sense fear of predators in their surroundings, these tortoises are also called “hiders” because of this reason.

Pancake tortoises eat dried grass along with other green vegetables and leaves.

An interesting thing about these tortoises is that instead of living alone, they like living in colonies.

They are good climbers too, so make sure their enclosure is tall enough for them to not escape it. The walls of the enclosure should be at least 4 feet tall.

You won’t require a very big enclosure as these tortoises are small in size.

The temperature requirement for this tortoise is 70-75 degrees.

Do provide them with a good basking spot for proper growth of this tortoise.

They do not need a lot of caring and handling as they are wild turtles and know how to take care of themselves.

Pancake tortoises are not violent creatures and are not capable of biting. These tortoises represent little to no substantial hazard to people in general. Pancake tortoises, like other reptiles, are known to carry Salmonella bacterium, so wash your hands after handling them.

The average life span of this tortoise is 30-60 years.

These tortoises do have restrictions over their trade for they are rare.

The price ranges from 400 to 600 dollars!

This lovable creature makes a great pet, you can play with them too, and they have bubbly nature.

Hermann’s Tortoise 

Harmanns Tortoise
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The Hermann’s tortoise is a very popular specie of tortoise because of the horn-like claw on its tail, they use this claw to dig and fight predators.

The Hermann tortoise is named after a friend of naturalist, Johan Herman.

They originate from north-eastern Spain to southern France, southern and western Italy, Romania, and Turkey. 

It has also established itself on various Mediterranean islands, including the Balearics, Sardinia, Sicily, and Corsica.

 While it appears to prefer evergreen Mediterranean oak woodland, most of it has vanished, and it now lives in dry meadows, stony slopes, desert hillsides, and farms. 

This tortoise prefers settings with plenty of shade and solitary resting spots, and it avoids damp environments in general.

This specie is also well known for its nature, the nature of this tortoise is very gentle and calm, which makes them excellent pets for beginners. They are low maintenance which makes them great for anyone who is a beginner pet keeper.

The life span of this tortoise is 75 years on average, but people have different opinions on this. Some say that their tortoise survived over 100 years, on the other hand, some tend to lose their tortoise at the age of 30.

Hermann’s tortoises are entirely herbivores, consuming a wide range of plants such as dandelions, clover, strawberries, and a variety of other plants and herbs, Some options that you have are Watercress, Leafy lettuce, Dandelion, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Apples, Parsley, Bell Peppers, Kale

Small Hermann’s tortoise can also eat Snails, earthworms, slugs, and insects are also eaten in tiny quantities, as well as carrion from rabbits, lizards, and amphibians, and even excrement.

Temperatures should be between 80 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

The humidity level should be at least 25 % and under 70%.

The size of this tortoise is 6-8 inches, so they do not require a large space for survival, but we do recommend taking them out in your garden once in a while.

Although these turtles can live in smaller enclosures they prefer spacious ones,

An indoor enclosure should be at least 4 by 4 feet.

The price of this tortoise is 150-500 dollars.

Marginated Tortoise

Marginated Tortoise - 10 Best Pet Tortoise Breeds
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The marginated tortoise is a specie of European tortoise. They belong to Italy, Greece, and Blankans but can be bought easily in pet stores due to their trade.

The appearance of this tortoise is very appealing, this tortoise has beautiful patterns that darken over age. The color of the tortoise is yellow, black, and even grey sometimes. An interesting thing about their appearance is that they have white polka dots( a pattern of dots) pattern on its head sometimes.

Marginated Tortoises are the largest tortoises in Europe, reaching 14 inches (35 cm) in length and weighing 11 pounds as an adult (5 kg).

In contrast to many other tortoise species, its shell is thicker in the center and has an oblong form.

The marginated tortoise can be kept together, in fact, they prefer living together to being kept individually. 

They tend to have a social sense and interact well with the same species of tortoise.

This adorable tortoise also likes to explore things, so don’t be surprised if they move around in their enclosures.

The life span is over 20 years.

At a temperature of 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit, UVB illumination is usually optimal for tortoises (35-38 Celsius). However, this is only true precisely beneath the light bulb, which is also known as the tortoise’s “basking place.”

The humidity levels should be kept low,\ so the respiratory system functions right.

The size of this tortoise is 14 inches on average.

The enclosure of this tortoise must be 16 by 16 because they like to roam around and explore.

The tortoise is well known for its low maintenance and also because its diet is easy to provide. 

Food rich in calcium is great for this tortoise, Leafy greens are a favorite of Marginated Tortoises.

Fruits, not so much, however, you may occasionally feed them little amounts of fruits. Leafy greens, on the other hand, are the Marginated Tortoise’s bread and butter.

And, as they say, variety is the spice of life, so don’t give your tortoise the same food every day. Dandelion, catsear, clover, thistle, mulberry leaves, collard greens, endive, turnip greens, and other plants are among their favorite foods.

The cost of this tortoise is 200-500 dollars.

Getting these tortoises is completely legal, you do not need any permit. They are also easily accessible.

Egyptian Tortoise 

Egyptian Tortoise - 10 Best Pet Tortoise Breeds
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This cute species is also known as Kleinmann’s tortoise or Leith’s tortoise. As the name of this tortoise suggests, this tortoise originates from Egypt.

It is really hard to find this rare specie in the wild 

The Egyptian tortoise lives for 70 years normally. 

These tortoises are so rare because of their extremely cute size, they are one of the smallest tortoises in the world! 

The adult size of this tortoise is 4-5 inches only!

The color of the shell can range from light cream to a deep golden hue, and it can even be gray at times. The shell is often a nice bright golden tint.

The benefit of getting this tortoise is that you do not need to get a huge enclosure to keep them in your house, a small aquarium of 2 by 4 feet is more than enough.

The temperature should be kept between 85 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit on the basking site. To keep this going, all you’ll need is something like a basking lamp. Only wear it for 10 to 12 hours per day.

One thing to keep in mind while caring for Egyptian tortoises is that they do not tolerate high levels of humidity. In reality, the humidity in the enclosure should be kept between 20% and 30%.

The food of a hatchling is critical, and a poor diet is frequently the cause of mortality in infant Egyptian tortoises.

Dark, leafy greens, such as dandelion and plantain greens, should be included in the diet. You may use any dark, green lettuce you find in the grocery store.

You can feed them every day or every other day, however, there is no hard and fast rule. Overfeeding isn’t a problem if they eat a well-balanced diet.

Egyptian tortoises for sale are only able to consume as much as they can.

Within the States, it is perfectly lawful to own, possess, breed, purchase, or sell Galapagos tortoises. If you want to sell them beyond state borders, you’ll need a “Captive Bred Wildlife” permit, which isn’t too difficult to obtain.

This tortoise is on the costly side, but getting it is worth the cost, the rice of this tortoise is over 1000 dollars.


We have brought to you a variety of excellent pet species to choose from, these tortoises are very well known in the pet world.

To know which tortoise is the best one for you, you should compare which one fits your liking and your environment the best.

The most important factors that you must take into consideration are the size and the age of the tortoise.

If you can not make a long time commitment, then you can choose the tortoise with a shorter lifespan, and if you don’t have a lot of space in your house, then an Egyptian tortoise is the best option for you.


Does my tortoise need a buddy?

This depends on the specie of tortoise you get, some species like living in groups while others do not. Mostly tortoise-like solitary, but some species like marginated tortoise likes to socialize.

Should I provide my tortoise with supplements?

Yes, you should provide your tortoise with calcium supplements in their food this helps with bone growth.

Should I buy a vivarium or a tortoise table?

Depending on the temperature requirement of the specie of tortoise you get and the area you live in, vivariums are recommended for countries with a cooler temperature as they will retain heat, tortoise table is recommended for countries with high temperatures because tortoise tables are made of wood and they insulate heat, this avoids overheating of the enclosure.

How many species of tortoise are found up to now?

In total there are 12 species of tortoise in the world.

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