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Tortoises make great pets if you know what you’re doing. They’re manageable, have reasonable care requirements, and let’s not even get started on those cute little faces! This post lists the best pet tortoises in no particular order.

These are some of the most common pet tortoises available around the world. Not all of these species are great for beginners, but they’re all great tortoises to keep as pets. In no particular order, let’s get into this list of the best pet tortoise!

Image of a leopard tortoise, our first best pet tortoise

Leopard tortoise

When trying to find the best pet tortoise for you, the leopard tortoise is one you can’t leave out. They are slightly larger than average and have a beautiful pattern. These are traits that make it a popular pet tortoise to keep.

These tortoises can reach sizes of around 45 to 70 cm (up to 28 inches!) depending on the sub-species. Their larger size makes them very popular, but it also makes them a little less forgiving for first-time reptile keepers.

These tortoises don’t hibernate which can reduce some of the risks associated with hibernation, but their large size and active nature make them quite a hand full at times.

If you live in a cold place, then heating is an added expense alongside their food. Bringing a 28-inch tortoise inside for the winter also comes with its set of difficulties!

These tortoises can live up to 100 years and require a lot of space compared to the smaller animals on this list.

All in all, leopard tortoises make for great pets and are a perfect species if you’re looking for a larger tortoise that will stay active.

Are you wondering what the difference is between a turtle and a tortoise? Check out our article on the topic for more info!

Image of a Greek tortoise

Greek spur-thighed tortoise

Another great pet tortoise is the Greek spur-thighed tortoise. These tortoises are very common pets and are therefore easy to find in most areas. Their availability also makes them all the easier to care for due to the vast amount of information available on their care.

These animals are easy to care for and are therefore a great option for less experienced tortoise keepers.

They grow to be about 25cm (about 10 inches) long so are one of the smaller options on this list. This smaller size means that housing and feeding are a lot more manageable. This makes them a much better pet to care for than the larger varieties.

These tortoises are also very active, which makes them more fun pets to keep. They are, however, one of the longest-lived tortoises you can keep in captivity. There have been many documented cases of these tortoises living upwards of 100 years!

Depending on where you live, these tortoises can be kept outside in the summer and as with all tortoises, they have a habit of escaping. Tortoises are surprisingly good diggers and can move quite fast when they’re warmed up!

Greek tortoises make for great pets and are one of the best pet tortoises for beginners.

Image of a marginated tortoise

Marginated tortoise

Marginated tortoises are another type of Mediterranean tortoise which make great pets. These tortoises are larger than the Greek spur-thighed tortoise and are slightly more of a challenge to care for.

These tortoises can grow to be up to 35cm’s (14-inches) in length. They’re a bit larger than the small tortoises on this list which also means they need a larger enclosure and more food. That being said, this is still a manageable pet to have for most people willing to do some extra research and who have the space.

They can live to be upwards of 100 years old so there’s a big possibility that these tortoises will still be with you way into the future.

You can keep these animals outside during the summer if you live in a warmer place. When inside, they need heating and UVB like all other tortoises on this list and this is something that may raise the monthly bill.

All-in-all, these tortoises make for great pets and are a companion for life if cared for properly!

Image of a red-footed tortoise

Red-footed tortoise

The red-footed tortoise is the next addition to this list of the best pet tortoises. It’s a popular south-American species of tortoise that’s a popular pet. Its care isn’t all too difficult but comes with some extra challenges.

They can reach sizes of about 40cm’s (16 inches) and are therefor one of the larger tortoises on this list. Their size gives them the best of both the larger and smaller tortoises, but also comes with more expenses in food and housing.

The extra challenges that this tortoise comes with is heating and humidity. They require more temperature and humidity regulation than the other tortoises on this list due the where they come from in the wild. This means that there are more things that can go wrong.

These tortoises are very curious and active which makes them perfect pets. Even though it poses some extra challenges, the red-footed tortoise isn’t one we could have left off our list of the best pet tortoises.

Image of a Russian tortoise

Russian tortoise (Horsfield tortoise)

Russian tortoises are one of the best pet tortoises for beginners. Their small size and relatively easy husbandry to learn make them one of the better pet tortoises for beginners.

These tortoises grow to be about 25cm in length (roughly 10 inches). This smaller size means that feeding and housing are less expensive for these tortoises compared to some of the larger additions to this list.

They are one of the most common pet tortoises which also means that information about their care is easy to find. Unfortunately, most of the animals you can find on the market are imported and not captive-bred. Here at Urban Reptiles, we’re not a fan of removing animals from the wild and would, therefore, suggest you rescue one or buy one off someone who cannot care for them anymore.

You can also find captive-bred Russian tortoises which are a great option too.

With their manageable size, these tortoises make for great pets and are a great option for less experienced tortoise keepers.

Image of an Indian star tortoise

Indian star tortoise

The Indian star tortoise is one of the most beautiful tortoises on this list. They look magnificent, and this is one of the main reasons why people pick this species as a pet.

They are a lot less common and are, therefore, more expensive to purchase. This also means that it’s more of a challenge to find information about their care. These are some of the reasons they don’t make for great pet tortoises for beginners.

Indian star tortoises are a shy tortoise, but this goes away over time. They also have a very manageable size of about 20cm (about 8 inches) which makes them a treat when it comes to feeding and housing. They also don’t hibernate which means you can interact with them throughout the year and you can avoid the problems that come with hibernation.

Caring for these tortoises is manageable if you do the research but aren’t a species you should jump into without knowing what you’re getting yourself into. They can reach ages well into the 70’s.

Another great tortoise species to keep as a pet, just not one that’s great for beginners!

Image of an African spur-thighed tortoise

African spur-thighed tortoise (Sulcata tortoise)

If you’re looking for a huge pet, then the sulcata tortoise is certainly a contender for the title of best pet tortoise.

These titans can grow to a whopping 30+ inches, which is about 80cm long. Their weight is also no joke and they can reach weights of upwards of 100 pounds, or 45kg’s!

When buying a sulcate tortoise, it’s best to go for an adult. There are many people who buy these animals when they’re babies but don’t count on them getting this large. This means there are a lot of these tortoises that get abandoned by their owners.

Adult sulcate tortoises are not only easier to keep, but there are many in need of a good home.

These tortoises don’t hibernate and are quite active. If you live in a place that’s warm enough, then it’s best to keep these animals outside. They mainly eat grass and are therefore ideal living lawnmowers. This will also help to cut down the food bill as feeding large eating machines like this doesn’t come cheap.

Their large size makes them quite a challenge for beginners and also requires a lot of space. You may need heating depending on where you live and thorough research is always advised before buying a pet reptile.

At the end of the day, African spurred tortoises make for wonderful pets if you have the means to care for them properly.

Image of a Herman's tortoise

Hermann’s tortoise

We may have saved the best pet tortoise for last. The Hermann’s tortoise is another Mediterranean tortoise that stays small and is easy to care for once you have done your research. They’re also very active, which makes them a great pet to look at.

These tortoises grow to be about 18 cm (7.5 inches) so are a very manageable size. Their smaller size makes them much less expensive when it comes to food and a lot easier to house in a manageable enclosure.

One downside to these tortoises is that there are still a lot that are wild-caught. There are also a lot of breeding programs that allow you to buy captive-bred animals, but it’s something you need to be aware of when buying one. A wild-caught individual won’t be as good of a pet and it’s not great for wild populations of these tortoises.

You can keep them outside throughout the year if you live in a warmer climate that doesn’t have harsh winters. If you live somewhere a little colder, it’s best to give them a space inside during the colder months.

The Hermann’s tortoise has a beautiful shell and there’s a lot of information available on their care. They’re one of the best pet tortoises for beginners and a great animal to close this list off with.


There it was! That was our list of the best pet tortoises for both beginners and more experienced keepers. We hope that you found this article helpful and if there’s anything you feel we’ve left out or you have any questions, then we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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