5 Best Pet Tortoise Breeds & Species for Beginners

Tortoises are magnificent creatures that have captivated our hearts for centuries and for a good reason. They make exceptional pets, especially for those venturing into reptile companionship. Imagine having a pet that exudes a calming aura and a serene demeanor, always reminding you to take life at your own unhurried pace. That’s precisely what tortoises for sale bring to the table! 

If you’re looking for a long-lived companion that ages as you do, tortoises are the one for you. In this blog, we’ll delve into the five best pet tortoise breeds and species for beginners. We will also help you find the perfect match for your new scaly friend. So let’s dive in!

1. Sulcata Tortoise

If you’re just starting as a tortoise enthusiast, the African spurred Tortoise, also known as the Sulcata tortoise, could be your best choice. It’s the largest mainland tortoise globally, but don’t worry; they are gentle and rarely aggressive. Their slow and silent nature makes them easy to handle and great companions.

Feeding them is a breeze since they are exclusively herbivores. They enjoy munching on various grasses, succulent plants, and hay. This keeps their diet high in fiber and low in protein. Setting up their habitat is straightforward, too – an outdoor pen with a fence around 2 feet high, some parts extending underground. They love warm weather, thriving in temperatures up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit when they have a burrow to cool off in.

The Sulcata tortoise’s calm demeanor and simple care requirements make it an excellent choice for beginners. As they explore their outdoor enclosure and build burrows, you’ll find joy in observing their natural behaviors. So, if you’re looking for a fascinating and hassle-free reptile companion, the Sulcata tortoise might just be the one for you! Just bear in mind that grow to be quite big!

2. Hermann’s Tortoise

Hermann’s Tortoise, also known as Testudo Hermanni, is an ideal choice for beginners looking to keep a pet tortoise. These small to medium-sized tortoises, native to Europe, are captivating with their black and yellow-patterned carapaces when young. The colors may fade to a more subtle gray, straw, or yellow shade as they age. 

Keeping Hermann’s Tortoise indoors is possible with the right living conditions provided by the owner. You should set up a heat lamp between 79–86 °F to help create a warm basking area for your shelled friend. Moreover, a UVB bulb is essential to help the tortoise process vitamin D3. This helps prevent issues like metabolic bone diseases.

3. Leopard Tortoise

If you want to bring a tortoise home, the Leopard Tortoise is a great pick for you. What makes them appealing pets are their attractive markings. These include a uniformly colored head and yellow, tan, or brown limbs. Plus, the Leopard tortoises can get  up to 16 inches long and weigh around 29 lb. 

These tortoises are herbivores. This means that they love to munch on a diet full of plants. These include grasses, thistles, and succulents. Their favorite snacks also include Berries and fruits. Plus, Leopard tortoises mature at the age of 12 to 15 years. When it comes to their expected life span, these tortoises can live for around 80 to 100 years.

Their generally good-natured behavior makes them great for beginners. Leopard tortoises are not known for biting people. However, they prefer not to be handled frequently and may retreat into their shells if threatened. Bringing a Leopard tortoise home can mean a long-term commitment. Nevertheless, thanks to their calm and easygoing nature, these tortoises make rewarding companions. 

4. Russian Tortoise

The Russian Tortoise is an excellent choice for beginners looking to keep a tortoise as a pet. It’s a small species, growing up to 5-10 inches in size. This makes it manageable for most people. Females are slightly larger at 6-10 inches due to egg accommodation, while males average 5-8 inches.

Their coloration varies, usually featuring a ruddy brown or black shell, fading to yellow between the scutes, and a straw-yellow and brown body. They are well-adapted to dry and open areas, preferring sandy locations where they can easily move around and burrow. In captivity, they thrive on a diet of hay, collard greens, and various other dark leafy greens.

Russian tortoises enjoy low humidity levels but may need some rain to soften the soil for burrowing. Their ability to adapt to different conditions makes them relatively easy to care for.

5. Yellow Footed Tortoise

The Yellow-footed Tortoise is one of the larger tortoise species. Ranking third largest on the mainland, these tortoises usually grow to about 16 inches in size. However, sometimes you might meet even bigger individuals.

There are a lot of food options available for feeding these adorable companions. These include berries, apples, melons, endive, or dandelions. Insects and worms are also one of their favorite snacks – just remember that their primary diet should still be plant-based. If you want your Tortoise to get all the necessary nutrients, add tortoise vitamins, edible flowers, or alfalfa pellets to its diet. 

Around 8 to 10 years are required by these tortoises to reach maturity. This gives you plenty of time to bond with your shelled buddy. Plus, a suitable environment and a healthy diet are the only things needed to keep your pet happy.


So if you’re considering bringing a tortoise home, these five breeds are your best picks. Each species has its unique characteristics, making it a worthwhile companion. Whether you choose the Russian, Hermann’s, or Sulcata, these tortoises for sale are sure to bring joy to your life. 

You only need to give them the proper care, environment, and love they deserve. As a result, these tortoises will be by your side for life. Good luck on this journey with your new shelled friend!