Can I Keep a Tortoise if I Have Asthma

Can I Keep a Tortoise if I Have Asthma?

Being an asthmatic can become such a frustrating experience and dangerous at times, and things like choosing a pet are not as simple for an asthmatic. Since I was a child, having suffered from asthma, it was such a disappointment when wanting a dog as a family pet to be told my asthma prevents it from being possible. Cats were also out of the question of any pet with hair in reality as they can cause irritation to the lungs bringing on an asthma attack. 

Tortoises make excellent pets for asthmatics as they are not shed dander, unlike cats and dogs. Tortoises don’t shed skin and don’t have any hair to shed. With this, tortoises are much less likely to cause asthmatics allergic reactions making them an excellent pet for people living with asthma.

So it wasn’t all doom and gloom. As a child, I got to keep one of the coolest animals on the planet, an animal that was around with the dinosaurs. Tortoises make an excellent pet, but there are still a few things we need to keep in mind as asthma sufferers. We cover some of the precautions asthmatics should take when keeping a tortoise.

Can I Keep a Tortoise if I Have Asthma?

Asthma is an issue that affects millions of people worldwide every year. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult for those who have asthma to find a pet that can work for you. Most pets have dander, hair, and skin that cause asthma to flare up at the worst moments. But what about tortoises? They don’t seem to have any hair.

Can you keep a tortoise if you have asthma? Do they make good pets for households where asthma might be a problem?

Yes, the good news is that tortoises make great asthmatic pets, and you definitely can keep a tortoise as a pet if you have asthma. There are a few reasons why this is possible that we will get into in this article.

Why Tortoise Make Good Pets for Someone with Asthma 

First and foremost, tortoises make great pets for someone with asthma because they do not have any hair, fur, or dander. Most of their skin is hard and scaly and hidden under a tough exterior shell. This gives tortoises much less potential to spread allergens than other animals.

The lack of allergy and asthma affecting particles is called being hypoallergenic. The tortoises’ ancient biology makes it an excellent match for people with asthma or allergies that might suffer from the presence of increased airborne irritants. 

Increased exercise or sudden cardio activity can also be an issue for someone who has asthma. Luckily, tortoises are slow and predictable in their movements, so you never have the risk of needing to chase a wayward pet down that you might get with a dog or a cat, further reducing the risk of an asthmatic event. 

Avoid Dusty Substrate

Suppose you decide to get a tortoise for your home; if you have asthma, make sure to avoid any bedding made from small particulate matter. While a tortoise is unlikely to shed small particles that could irritate your condition, their bedding definitely could. 

Tortoises like to dig and move around a lot, especially in sand or dust, and if that dust gets into the air, it could cause n irritation.

You can find suitable beddings and substrates that are not dusty. There are mossy forest style beddings, carpet substrates, and even plain newspaper will work a lot of the time. 

There is no need to get sandy or dusty bedding or substrate if you have asthma, and avoiding those kinds of products will go a long way in helping with your condition. 

Keep Tortoise Outdoors When Possible

Another easy solution to take up if you are concerned about your asthma or your child’s asthma is to keep your tortoise outdoors. Tortoises will do just fine outside in most conditions, and keeping their hutch or enclosure in an open air space will further decrease the risks that they could pose to an asthmatic.

Keep in mind that not all tortoises can be kept outside all of the time. Being reptiles, tortoises are very sensitive to temperature swings, sunlight, and cold snaps. 

Do research on your specific tortoise species to see what kinds of weather tolerance it has before deciding to keep them outdoors full time. Many tortoises will have a desirable temperature range, humidity level, and sunlight requirements that must be met for them to live outside safely. 

Once you have verified these things, a tortoise will happily live outdoors, and some of them even prefer it if the conditions are right.

Precautions to Take if You Have Asthma

If you have asthma and the hypoallergenic nature of tortoises isn’t enough to completely smooth over all of your doubts, there are some things you can do to help ensure that you have as little risk as possible. These are three easy precautions you can take when caring for a tortoise if you have asthma. 

A. Cleaning precautions

All animal enclosures need cleaning, even tortoise enclosures. When you go to clean your tortoise enclosure, wear a face covering to prevent yourself from inhaling bedding, dust, or germs that the tortoises give off. Keeping your nose and mouth covered will protect your lungs from undue harm and irritation.

B. Keep them outside 

Even if you cannot keep a tortoise outside all year round or if you do not have adequate space in your yard, you can still keep them outside. Find a space in your garage or on the porch to set up their enclosure, and they will still do just fine. Moving the tortoise from inside to an open-air space can go a long way in reducing potential irritants in the air inside your home. 

C. Ventilation 

If you are going to keep your tortoises inside, make sure that they are set up in a well-ventilated area. Having them in a stuffy room with little airflow will potentially trap airborne irritants that could cause asthma to flare up. Putting the tortoises by a window, under a vent, or in an area with a fan can help to keep the air moving and the particulate matter circulating out of the main air supply. 


The excellent news is tortoises are super great pets for someone with asthma to get. They are hypoallergenic, they can be kept outside in the right conditions, and with a few extra steps, can be just about as safe as possible for someone with asthma. 

If you are longing for the days where you can have a pet again despite your asthma, you are in luck because a tortoise might be just the pet for you. 

Following some safety precautions around their enclosures and substrate is always wise, especially if you suffer from server asthma.