The Leopard Tortoise is one of the most popular types of tortoise to be kept as a pet, mostly because of its attractiveness due to the patterns on its shell, from which it gets its name in the first place. The pattern becomes less pronounced as the tortoise ages, but the adults still look pretty good, even if they’re not as striking as the young ones.
These are large tortoises, and there are very few larger species that are commonly kept as pets. This can create some problems as obviously not everybody has room for one of these animals in their garden. They also do not hibernate, so if you live in an area that gets cold during the winter, you’ll need enough space to keep your pet indoors for a few months every year.
Once you’ve overcome the temperature issue, most of their requirements in an outdoor enclosure aren’t too difficult to meet, but one common stumbling block is the hide box. At night or during bad weather, the tortoise will retreat into the hide box to sleep or shelter, and it needs to be heated, insulated and not let any light in. For a fully grown adult Leopard Tortoise, one of the best options is to convert a garden shed, although if this is done well and it’s large enough, you could also potentially house your tortoise in this shed during the winter.
It should go without saying that buying one or more Leopard Tortoises is a serious commitment. For starters your new pet could well outlive you, with many individuals surviving for more than 70 years. They are also not a cheap pet to own. Actually buying one is not too expensive, although obviously they cost significantly more than a hamster would. The main costs stem from their care, especially for people living in colder climates. The prices of UVB lamps, a safe heat source, insulation for the hide box and power to actually make use of all these things can stack up very quickly to make owning one of these animals prohibitively expensive for many people.
This all sounds quite negative, but if you have the space and the money, owning a Leopard Tortoise can be surprisingly rewarding. They are more entertaining than you might think and have clear personalities. They will even become noticeably more affectionate to their owner than to strangers, so it’s possible to build a bond with one of these creatures, which can only be a good thing in a lifetime companion! If you’ve never kept a tortoise before, then one of these is a good choice, but you must be certain that you’re ready and have everything you need first.