The best tortoise house to keep your little slowpoke snug

Check out this guide to tortoise houses that aren’t a turtle disaster

Close-up of tortoise shell on field

by Piper Huxley |

Thinking of introducing a tortoise to your home? These cold-blooded reptiles make awesome pets when you’re looking for a quiet exotic animal. And for a tortoise of any age or size, a good tortoise house is very important to its well-being. A bit overwhelmed? We’ve broken it down for you here.

As for size, many tortoise species can grow to be quite large, therefore need a decent-sized enclosure – outdoors is preferred. Not only that, but it is important to remember that tortoises are better suited for areas with a milder climate.

You need to make sure you’re providing an indoor and outdoor tortoise house for your pet – because it may be necessary to bring your tortoise indoors at night.

What should I be looking for when shopping for a tortoise house?

Indoor accommodation can be a purpose-built enclosure, often called a tortoise table. On the other hand, a larger vivarium with decent ventilation can also be provided. In bad weather, the minimum size for an adult enclosure should be 3m x 3m. Make sure to keep it varied inside.

As for light, reptiles need UVA/UVB lighting to absorb the calcium in their diet. Therefore, this light should be left on for 10-12 hours in the day. You need to find the right spot (with an available outlet) in the house to keep the large pen and make sure to keep up with the bulb changes.

Cold-blooded reptiles need an external heat source to maintain correct body temperature. Though each species requires different degrees of heating, your tortoise will benefit from a mix of temperatures in an indoor enclosure. Heat can be supplied by basking lamps that should be kept 6-12 inches away from the basking area. Make sure you have space for them in the pen, too.

Here are some other things to remember:

Hibernation - Some species of tortoise hibernate and require special conditions. More information on hibernation is covered below.

Strength - Tortoises can grow to be quite strong. A robust enclosure is required to keep your slowpoke safely inside. For the outside pen, make sure to bury whatever you’re putting on the ground, so it’s secure.

Agility - If you weren’t aware, some tortoises can climb, therefore a roofed pen is encouraged. This is to keep your pet away from predators. Sometimes, when trying to climb over an obstacle, a tortoise may tip onto its back, which should be avoided.

Placement - When the weather is suitable, your tortoise will benefit from the sunshine – so, a sunny spot, with access to edible weeds and flowers for grazing, is best. As for indoors, choose somewhere mild and away from lots of commotion.

The best tortoise house for the outdoors

Here, at Take a Break, we've made it our mission to help you find the best home for your tortoise. Hopefully, a good home will bring them out of their shell. Not literally, of course.

Made from Redwood Pine, this tortoise lodge would make a great addition to your garden. This lodge has a fully-hinged roof with a secure latch and door that will double as a ramp when open. Isn't that cool? Not only is the design really lovely, but it's a good size, too - and could work indoors.

Size: 18 x 14.5 x 15 inches - not including the roof.

Material: Redwood Pine & WBP Ply Base

Features:

• Cute design.

• Hinged roof with a secure latch

• Door that doubles as a ramp.

We're loving this small pet house with a run. Stained with a natural wood finish, this product is a great option for your tortoise. Though it comes flat-packed, it is easy to assemble. Made from treated fir and plywood, this run is extra secure with metal bolts and strong wire.

Size: W1056 x D954 x H308 mm

Material: Treated Fir and Plywood

Features:

• Hinged and Felt Roof - for weather protection

• Strong wire and metal bolts

• Separate shelter/sleeping area

• Secure Run Area

With galvanized bolts and hinges throughout, this run is rust-proof. Not only is it sleek, but it also has an easy-accessible opening roof and hinged door - making it easier than ever to get to your tortoise or give it a little clean. The roof is decked out with quality asphalt, which makes it the perfect sanctuary for your little slowpoke.

Size: 400 x 409 x 430 cm

Material: Fir

Features:

• Hinged Roof

• Green flat asphalt roof

• Treated fir wood

• Locking latches

Zoo Med's wooden enclosure is made for time spent in the garden. With a very open design for optimal ventilation and a built-in hide, this run is the perfect pairing for a smaller tortoise. It allows them to soak up some vital UV rays from sunlight which is very important for their health and shell growth. Complete with a private sleeping area.

Size: 39.5 x 19 x 16 inches

Material:

Features:

• Open design

• Private sleeping area

Made from a mixture of wood and metal, this versatile tortoise house is a safe option for your little slowpoke - as it's equipped with secure locks. Decked out with a private sleeping area, your tortoise will endure any manner of weather. Suitable for all life stages.

Size: 94 x 63.5 x 33 cm

Material: Wood

Features:

• Private Weatherproof Sleeping Area

• Usable Inside & Outside

• Lockable Wire Safety Cover

• Sturdy Wood

The best tortoise house for indoors

With this groovy design, it's no wonder that this vivarium won the "Best New Pet Product" award at the PATS 2016 trade show. The vivarium is easy to clean and basking-lamp safe. Manufactured from lightweight resin, this enclosure is cable tidy and has an inbuilt hide with a glossy aesthetic. Just check out the reviews. Tortoise owners love it!

Size: 82 x 100 x 64 cm

Material: Lightweight Resin

Features:

• Basking Lamp Safe

• In-Built Hide

• Circular, Internal Design

• Beautiful, Open-Top Design

• Easy to Clean

Home your little tortoise in this table, which comes flat-packed. With plenty of room to roam about, this table is sturdy - and great value for money. We suggest investing in some pet-safe mesh to make it extra secure your little slowpoke.

Size: 90 x 21.5 x 45 cm

Material: Wood

Features:

• Easy assembly

• Sturdy

• Great for a baby tortoise

We are very impressed by this one. Exceptional value for money, this vivarium (equipped with a matching cabinet) is stylish and contemporary with an oak finish. The Maxi Large Repti-home is a high-quality and affordable vivarium for tortoises that require a bit more heating. Available in four different colours, this vivarium has toughened glass, easy access vents and a plug to secure the front doors. It's very safe and secure.

Size: 115 x 49 x 120.5 cm

Material: Oak

Features:

• Ventilation Slots

• Sliding Glass Door

• Suits any interior

• Toughened glass

Standing at 80cm high, this tortoise table is complete with a lamp holder. We're very impressed with this handmade enclosure from Etsy, which has a roof on the house that lifts off for easy cleaning. Also, it has an anti-climb lip - or a wire mesh lid if you want to pay a little extra. This plywood table is a sturdy option. Your tortoise will love it!

Size: 120cm x 60cm x 20cm, Stands at 80cm high

Material: Plywood

Features:

• Customisable

• Complete with a lamp holder

• Anti-Climb Lip

• Easy-lift roof

Made from strong and heavy-duty hardwood ply, this house makes a great place for your tortoise to hide, sleep and bask. With a removable lid on the hidden compartment for easy inspection and cleaning, this enclosure is simple and efficient in keeping your slowpoke safe and snug. We're liking this one. Also, the arm is included for a lamp. Easy!

Product will arrive in carton flat packed with instructions and nails included.

Simple assembly is required.

Size: 820mm x 410mm x 200 mm

Material: Hardwood Ply

Features:

• Removable Lid

• Strong, Heavy Duty

• Simple assembly is required

• Comes with lamp arm

This Repti-Home vivarium from Vivexotic is a great choice for a standalone habitat. They offer a great living space for your tortoise. With improved fixings, easy-vent ventilation, sliding glass doors and a handy locking hole, your pet will be safe, secure and happy.

Size: 862 x 375 x 421 mm

Material: Oak

Features:

• Easy Access Vents

• Locking Screws

• Toughened Glass

• Wood Effect Panels

FAQs

What is the best tortoise to have as a pet?

Greek tortoises are super easy to care for.

Egyptian tortoises are fun because they are just small enough for flat dwellers.

Pancake tortoises are flatter in shape and move quickly, perfect for playing.

Leopard tortoises have lovely shells and grow to be 10 to 18 inches long.

What is the lifespan of a tortoise?

Generally, tortoises can live between 50 and 100 years. So, yes, they’re a commitment.

What time of year do tortoises hibernate?

Hibernation usually begins around November. With correct preparation, hibernation can be a safe and beneficial process for your tortoise.

According to HugglePets, you should check whether your tortoise is a hibernating species. Not only that, but you should see if it’s a good weight and is showing no signs of illness.

As for the length of hibernation, it varies between age and species, so consult an expert for more advice. But generally, hibernation should not exceed more than 12 weeks. Remember to check in with your vet beforehand for a pre-hibernation appointment.

Other things to remember for hibernation:

Fasting - Your tortoise should be fasted for 2-3 weeks before hibernation, though water must be provided.

Ventilation - The hibernation box should be well-ventilated and made of rat-proof materials.

Temperature - The optimum temperature is 5°C, and should not fall below 2-3°C or above 8°C.

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