Best Indoor Tortoise to Have as Pets (2023)

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Over the years, most animal lovers have been keeping tortoises in pens outside their homes.

The trend is now changing as some species can thrive inside your house like many other pets.

While having an indoor tortoise pet is becoming a popular trend, you need to know what kind of tortoise could suit your household.

So, what is the best indoor tortoise? The Russian or Horsfield’s tortoise is ideally suited to life indoors. The Russian tortoise grows to about 10 inches long and its small size makes it easy to handle in terms of feeding and building an indoor enclosure.

Its life span averages 40 years, so if you like an energetic, active pet, happy indoors as well as outside then you wouldn’t go wrong with a Russian tortoise

Not all tortoises can comfortably live in your household. Some are large and need lots of space to move around.

A large tortoise is bound to challenge you in ways that you have never experienced.

Therefore, smaller tortoises are better for indoor pets. Moreover, it is easier to house and feed them.

If you intend to have a tortoise around your house, you’d better be prepared to have a lifelong friend.

You are most likely going to take care of it for decades. Though the first days may seem difficult, once you get the hang of it, it becomes easy and fun.

Unlike other pets, tortoises offer a different experience mainly because they are quieter.

They are also more restricted in terms of movement as they don’t roam all over your house.

If you want to have more than one tortoise indoors, it’s best not to have two males because they are prone to fighting and are likely to injure each other.

When bringing a tortoise to your house, it is important to build an indoor enclosure that resembles its natural habitat.

This will enhance the comfort of your pet. Normally, a wooden enclosure does the trick.

You don’t want to have a large tortoise since you’d need a large enclosure as well as lots of floor space for the pet to wander.

The chances are that you don’t have that much space.

What Is The Best Tortoise For Indoor Pets?

As we have established, smaller tortoises make better indoor pets.

But what species are recommended? In this section, we are going to list for you the species that you should consider for an indoor pet.

Russian/ Horsfield’s Tortoise

female russian tortoise with her son

The Russian tortoise, often referred to as the Horsfield tortoise is about 10 inches long. Its small size makes it easy to handle in terms of feeding and building it an indoor enclosure.

Its life span averages 40 years, making it a long-term pet. Though you can easily keep it both inside and outside your house, it is one of the best tortoise species to keep indoors.

If you like an energetic, active pet, then you wouldn’t go wrong with a Russian tortoise.

Russian tortoises hibernate when they are in their natural habitats. However, it is unlikely to hibernate when kept as a pet in a warm, cozy, home setting.

This is because there are no hibernation triggers in your house such as drastic climate changes. So, you can expect that your pet will be active all year round.

If you want to get a rewarding pet experience from a Russian tortoise, all you need to do is ensure that the reptile is well taken care of.

This includes feeding, grooming, and seeing to it that his habitat is properly cleaned. Besides that, regular checks from your veterinarian can help keep your tortoise healthy and happy.

Egyptian Tortoises

Also known as Kleinmann’s tortoise, the Egyptian tortoise has over the past two decades become an accepted indoor pet.

Its early habitats were traced on the coastal Middle East and the north coast of Africa.

What sets the Egyptian tortoise apart as an indoor pet is that it is one of the smallest tortoises in the world.

So if your space is somewhat limited, you could still own this pet.

Besides its small size, you can easily identify this tortoise by looking for triangle marks that are located on the bottom of the shell.

These markings become more prominent as they age.

A female Egyptian tortoise grows to a length of about 5 inches while the male is slightly shorter.

Since it comes from areas that are dry and have little vegetation, it can easily thrive in your household.

To make its habitat better, you can bring in some sand to cover the ground of its enclosure. This will make it more comfortable.

Transporting these tortoises from Egypt is difficult as they are protected. Luckily, they are bred in many countries. You, therefore, can get one with your local breeder.

Nonetheless, the Egyptian tortoise is a prized pet. Before you buy one, you should be well aware of how to take care of it.

Having an Egyptian tortoise is demanding. If you are inexperienced, you should carry out thorough research before you welcome one to your household.

Greek Tortoises

greek tortoise walking on rocks

The natural habitat for Greek tortoises is characterized by deserts, grasslands, and forests. This species is common in Asia, Africa, and Europe.

An adult Greek tortoise grows to about 10 inches in length. This is among some of the traits that make it an excellent indoor pet.

If you are considering having a tortoise as an indoor pet, then the Greek tortoise is not only friendly but also an exemplary companion.

With a life span of about 50 years, you should be in for the long haul. This tortoise can undoubtedly outlive its owner.

As much as the Greek tortoise is small in size, it needs considerable living space. For it to flourish, it has to exercise as though it were living in its natural habitat.

When it is warm outside, you can reward your Greek tortoise with some time outside. This has to be supervised as it is faster than you’d imagine.

You don’t want it wandering on its own as it can easily get lost. Also, dangerous predators might harm your beloved pet if left alone outside.

It is easy to find bedding for a Greek tortoise. Wood shavings are a perfect choice. This pet is best fed on clean plates to protect it from ingesting harmful materials.

Hermann’s Tortoises

hermans tortoise walking on grass

The pet industry loves Hermann’s tortoise.

Most breeders are likely to have it. An adult Hermann’s tortoise is between 6-8 inches. Some of its characteristics include a gentle demeanor.

If you don’t like a boisterous pet, then you’d enjoy owning this tortoise.

Hermann’s tortoises are gorgeous. As a pet, it sure complements a household. It has an alluring yellow and brown color on its shell.

Its natural habitat includes a beach, forest, and rocky hillsides. Due to its admirable qualities, it is a top-rated tortoise when it comes to indoor pets.

However, it is not a good idea to have both male and female Hermann’s tortoises in a single enclosure as they can hurt each other.

If it’s not their mating season, keep them separate. Additionally, these reptiles enjoy outdoor activities. You have to let them out regularly.

When the temperatures are low, Hermann’s tortoise is tempted to hibernate. To avoid this, keep its enclosure warm during the cold season.

Indian Star Tortoises

indian star tortoise

The Indian star tortoises are yet another fine choice for indoor pets. Originally, they were found in China, India, and Sri Lanka.

These tortoises have shells with unique, attractive patterns. An adult Indian star tortoise ranges from 7-12 inches in length.

Given that these reptiles hate to be handled, it’s best to keep them away from young children.

Also, they are shy at first but warm up to their owners after some time. You can notice this after feeding your tortoise a couple of times.

If you’d like to own one of these tortoises, keep it in a large indoor enclosure as it needs enough space to move around. Small living spaces can stress your tortoise.

What you Need to Know Before Buying an Indoor Tortoise pet.

  • A reputable breeder is always the best source for buying a tortoise. Breeders have a history of the pet and can advise you on how to take care of it.
  • Always go for a captive-bred tortoise. This helps you avoid bringing home a tortoise laden with nasty parasites.
  • Carefully examine the tortoise before taking it home. If you notice that it has a shell rot, you shouldn’t pay for it. Shell rots are signs of serious underlying health problems.
shell rot on a tortoise
shell rot
  • Healthy tortoises have clear eyes. Also, their shells should be blemishless.
  • A healthy tortoise hardly turns down an opportunity to eat. Request to see it during feeding time before you take it home. If it refuses to eat, then that could be a sign that it is ill.

Like any other pet, you should brace yourself to take care of your tortoise. This means that you need to clean its enclosure and ensure its beddings are fresh and dry.

Also, you need to observe the feeding time and provide your pet with clean water.

If you notice something is amiss with your tortoise such as a lack of appetite, then you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Tortoises are great companions. You’ll enjoy having one so long as you are up to the task. The tortoises listed above make the best indoor pets.

You can further discuss your options with your local breeder, but don’t just buy any tortoise and lock it in your house without doing your due diligence.

About the Author
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Chafik Abderrahman is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of

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