This post is sponsored by petMD Reptile Center, and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Reptile Ownership, but Daily Dog Tag only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. petMD and PetSmart are not responsible for the content of this article.
Last month I introduced you to Tato, my son’s Red-Footed Tortoise. Tortoises are one of my top favorite non-dog pets. I never thought I would be a reptile person, but my kids have had a lizard gecko, a chameleon, and two tortoises. Tortoises are my favorites since they don’t require crickets. Special thanks to Alice G Patterson Photography for these photos!
Tato spends the majority of the time in his tank, and his needs are pretty minimal. Nowadays, it is easy to find reliable information regarding reptile care. Two great resources are the brand new reptile center on petMD® (all of its content is either written by a veterinarian or approved by one for accuracy and factual information) and PetSmart’s® Guide to Choosing A Reptile.
Seasonal Living with A Red Footed Tortoise
The weather in my area is too harsh for Red Footed Tortoises to survive the winters outside, so Tato can only be outside in the warm weather. My son is very concerned that the temperature is just right before he’ll take Tato outside.
In the summer, Tato gets to go outside and graze on the pesticide-free weeds and grass in the yard. Tortoises are faster than you might think, and he needs to be constantly monitored. Tortoises can also dig under a fence, so don’t leave one unattended. A local tortoise recently broke through his fence and is missing. Hopefully, he is found and returned safely!
Even when Tato has spent some time outside during the day, my son still feeds Tato fresh veggies with a calcium supplement in the evening.
This winter, Tato had some trouble with his eyes. We went on vacation and moved Tato to a different room to make it easier for the pet sitter. When we returned home, we discovered that the room was too dry for him. Fortunately, he recovered once we established the proper humidity. We found out via PetSmart that a tortoise should have a hygrometer, and now we can adequately monitor the moisture.
In the winter, we let Tato out in my son’s room for a “stroll.” However, my son keeps a close eye on him, so he doesn’t get lost in the house. Our dogs and cat don’t really have much interest in Tato. However, I’d never leave Tato alone with Theo. We also have a rabbit, and occasionally my kids will have a “tortoise and the hare” race. Basically, they see which one will make it to a certain point in the room first. Usually, Tato wins because he is quite confident and walks around. The rabbit takes a little longer to get her bearings.
Tato doesn’t make noise except when he clunks into the side of the aquarium (infrequently), but he seems to have good hearing. He walks over to the side of the tank when my son enters the room and usually stays where he is if it is someone else. (Normally, only my son feeds Tato.)
Tato loves to soak in a pie pan filled with water. We have hard water, and I noticed that Tato has hard water stains on his shell. The vet said this wasn’t anything to worry about. Tortoises should have regular vet visits.
Turtles and Tortoises: What’s the difference?
Many people have trouble differentiating tortoises from turtles. Here’s a quote from
PetSmart to help distinguish the two: “While both turtles and tortoises are reptiles, have scales, and are cold-blooded, the main difference between the two is their habitat and diet. Most turtles spend much of their time in the water, tend to have webbed feet, and are omnivores. Tortoises are land-dwellers, have round, stumpy feet like an elephant’s, and are herbivores.”
Here are a few photos of a turtle photographed during a senior portrait session with Alice G Patterson Photography. The turtle is much more streamlined than Tato.
Living with reptiles has been a lot more fun than I expected it to be. Have you ever lived with a reptile? I’d love to hear all about your experiences!
About Alice G Patterson Photography: Based in Syracuse, Alice specializes in senior portraits (with their pets), dog photography, and photography for small business women (products and portraits.) Alice has three dogs of her own.