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7 Best Pet Tortoise Types & Species (with Pictures)

Oliver Jones

Tortoises are not known for being active pets, but they bring a sense of beauty and calmness to any person who has the pleasure of having one in their life. And just by watching them move around and interact with their habitat can help relieve stress. They also teach patience to adults and kids both as they learn to care for these incredible animals.

If you’re thinking of welcoming a tortoise into your home, there are a number of different species available on the market to take home as pets. But some are more suitable for a human home life than others – so how do you know which ones are right for you and your lifestyle? We did some digging and put together a list of the 7 best types of tortoises to keep as pets to help you choose the right reptile for you.

The 7 Types of Tortoises that Make Great Pets

1. The Egyptian Tortoise

Egyptian Tortoise on sand
Image Credit: reptiles4all, Shutterstock

In nature, the Egyptian Tortoise can be found wandering the lands of Egypt, Libya, and even some parts of Israel. But they are also popular family pets. They are endangered in the wild, however, so pet Egyptian Tortoises should only be purchased through dealers who are authorized to sell them. These are extremely small tortoises that need only about 4 square feet of space to dwell in, making them an excellent pet options for apartment lifestyles.


2. The Marginated Tortoise

marginated tortoise
Image Credit: reptiles4all, Shutterstock

The Marginated Tortoise can grow to be up to 14 inches long, making them one of the largest common pet tortoises in existence. They are originally from Greece and love to dig in sand and dirt. They prefer to live outside in warmer climates where they have plenty of room to roam, dig, and swim. If kept indoors, they should be provided with an enclosed shelter of at least 16 square feet to ensure that they don’t become bored or depressed.


3. The Pancake Tortoise

pancake tortoise_Nick Greaves_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Nick Greaves, Shutterstock

Unlike most tortoises, which have high, rounded shells, the Pancake Tortoise has a flat shell that looks like a sea turtle’s shell. The shape of their shells doesn’t protect them well, so they naturally move faster than most other tortoises, making them a fun pet to play around within their shelter or in the yard on a warm summer day. These turtles are easy to take care of, and like most tortoises, they love getting leafy greens at snack time.


4. The Leopard Tortoise

Leopard Tortoise
Image Credit: Nathaelus, Pixabay

These big creatures can weigh up to a whopping 40 pounds, making them one of the largest tortoise species in the world. They’re too big to live inside, so they should be kept in a secure enclosure outdoors, but owners should beware that they need a large space to live in — at least the size of a bedroom within a house. These tortoises don’t dig and are pretty docile, and they are easy to take care of, which makes them ideal for first-time pet owners.


5. The Red-Footed Tortoise

Red-Footed Tortoise
Image Credit: Brenda Carson, Shutterstock

These tortoises can be found living wild in the Caribbean islands and South America. These are medium-sized tortoises that don’t grow any bigger than about 14 inches in length. These curious tortoises aren’t timid and enjoy the company of their human family members for the most part. One unique aspect of the Red-Footed Tortoise is that in addition to leafy greens and vegetables, they enjoy chowing down on bugs and insects.


6. The Hermann’s Tortoise

hermann's tortoise
Image Credit: Alexander Varbenov, Shutterstock

These tiny turtles only measure in at about 8 inches long. The ends of their tails grow something that looks like a claw, and they need a space to live in that mimics their natural Mediterranean environment, with the inclusion of a basking spotlight and a sandy environment. These are high-energy tortoises that will climb the walls of their enclosure, so they should be kept in a completely enclosed shelter. They are gentle and don’t mind being handled occasionally.


7. The Indian Star Tortoise

Indian Star Tortoise
Image Credit: eiammily, Shutterstock

Found in nature in both Sri Lanka and India, the Indian star Tortoise has an interesting pattern on their shell that looks like stars. Their native landscapes are threatened, so they can’t legally be exported for sale. The Asian Turtle Conservation Network has been working to save these and other turtles in the continent. Therefore, they aren’t readily available, and their scarcity makes them an expensive family pet to consider investing in. These tortoises are social and would love to live with a friend within the same shelter space, but in line with the Asian Turtle Conservation Network’s values, we recommend these tortoises live in conservation spaces.

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In Conclusion

The 7 best pet tortoises on our list are all awesome to have as pets if you provide the right habitat an care. We hope we have been able to help you decide whether you want to adopt one now. Once you’ve decided on which type of tortoise you want to invest in, remember you need a lot more than just a tank or caged shelter. Tortoise gear like drinking water access, and food are just some of the things to think about when you begin budgeting for your new pet tortoise. If you already know what kind of shelter you plan to create for them, we’d love for you to share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments section below.

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.