When people are thinking of buying a tortoise, a common question will be “do tortoises get lonely?” and are “tortoises better in pairs?” as they consider buying them a companion. It is no bad thing to think like this as we often treat our pets like humans.
However, this thinking can lead to us giving our pets items they don’t need. Humans need companionship, and without it, we would get lonely, and reasonable to ask will your tortoise get lonely.
Tortoises are entirely different from humans and don’t become lonely. In the wild, they only come together with another tortoise to breed and live most of their life in solitary and do not become lonely. Female tortoises don’t even protect their young, and even young tortoises live alone.
Ok, so that should put your mind at ease that your tortoise will not get lonely and will be happy alone as it comes naturally to them. However, that is not to say that you can’t offer them a friend or make their enclosure more stimulating.
Below we look at some critical points on helping give your tortoise the best life, whether that’s alone or in a pair.
Do Tortoises Need Other Tortoise Company?
Like many other reptiles, Tortoises are not built to need the company to feel fulfilled, unlike humans who can become sad without other’s company.
People like to compare their pets to themselves, so there can be a thought that you would be lonely without company.
So your tortoise must also be lonely as you would be; however, this is not the case. Let’s have a look at some of the reasons and myths about tortoises becoming lonely.
Tortoises in the Wild Are Solitary Creatures
Pet tortoises are no different from their wild counterpart, who never become lonely. Tortoise in the wild are foragers and considered loners. As they wonder during the day looking for food, they have little interest in companionship.
The tortoises will hide away in their burrows for most of the day, and when you consider how slow a tortoise moves, it would be unwise to move around in groups.
In most instances in the wild, Tortoises will only come together with another tortoise to mate and then go separate and go back to being loners.
A tortoise will lay its eggs after finding the perfect spot for the eggs to flourish. There are no nursing the eggs or hatchling tortoises; they are left alone to fend for themselves. A tortoise lives a lonely life from hatchling to death.
My Tortoise Always Seems Pleased to See me They Must Be Lonely?
I dont want to put a pin in your balloon here, but if you believe that your tortoise is pleased to see you. I have to break it to you, but it’s most certainly not the case.
Don’t let this dishearten you, as you do play a pivotal role in your tortoise’s wellbeing and health. Your the one which feeds an waters them so without you there live would be cut painfully short.
Your tortoise seeming pleased to see you is more down to you being the one that offers them food. It is very similar to a dog running to you when they see you take out the can of dog food.
There is no harm in believing this is your tortoise being happy to see you, and maybe it is; we ultimately dont know for sure as your tortoise cant talk.
If Not Company What Do Tortoise Need In Captivity?
Now, as tortoises owners knowing our tortoise dont need companionship to keep them occupied in captivity doesn’t mean they are:
- Heartless and cold animals that just dont care about anything.
- They don’t have the intelligence that they can’t suffer mental issues.
As humans, we need to be sympathetic to or tortoise’s needs. They are different from ours, and knowing them can keep your tortoise mush happier and healthier.
Our main aim is when keeping a tortoise is to keep them healthy and happy. Tortoises dont need company, but to keep them in captivity, we need to offer them specific things to keep their physical health and mental health in tip-top condition.
Tortoise needs in captivity:
- Food and Water
- UVB Lighting and Heat
- A spacious enclosure that represents that they would get in the wild
- A substrate that allows them to burrow
- Items to make the enclosure more stimulating like rocks
- A shelter for your tortoise to hide and feel safe
Should I Get Two Tortoises? or Is It a Bad Idea?
Getting two tortoises is not always a bad idea and whether or not you should get two tortoises will take some real consideration.
We want to give our tortoises the best life possible giving them a buddy is not always the best way to offer them the best life. Even if tortoises are built to live alone, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep two tortoises together and happy.
Before jumping in and buying a crowd of tortoises, we have somethings to keep in mind and help make it go more smoothly.
Male Tortoises Can Fight When Kept Together
Two or more males living in the same enclosure are pretty well known for being a bad idea throughout the tortoise community. However, if you are new to tortoises, then this may come as news to you.
Males are territorial and can fight to their death; a large enclosure so that they can escape each other’s presence will be a must. Adding a female in the mix with two male tortoises is a bad idea. Fighting will most likely start immediately as they try to dominate to mate with the female.
Two male tortoises can be kept together; however, there is a big caveat to that statement. It would typically only work when two males have been kept together since they were hatchlings.
Their enclosure would need to be large, and if they start to fight, it is unlikely you will be able to stop this behavior. Fighting is just not something you can train out of your tortoise, and it’s something that unfortunately comes naturally to tortoises.
Female Tortoises Are Better in Pairs
Unlike male tortoises, females are much more relaxed and much less territorial and happily live with other female tortoises.
The difficulty is if you are buying your tortoises when young, which most will be, it is challenging to sex them. You may have thought you had two females that turn out to be two males.
If you have two female tortoises and want to add one more, then another female or a male will be fine in this instance.
The male will be less aggressive as they dont need to fight for the female. But you need to keep in mind that a male tortoise can just be mean when in the presence of other tortoises.
Don’t MIX Tortoise Species
Tortoises carry diseases and parasites that dont harm them but can cause other tortoise species great harm, even death.
Some people dont listen to this advice as their tortoise is in good health, only for their tortoise’s new buddy to become ill and die as the harmless parasite is not so harmless to the other species.
If you get around the diseases and parasites problem, then fighting will be the next problem as different tortoise species can fight viciously.
There Is No Such Thing as Too Much Space
Tortoises need space; adding more tortoises to the mix and you can’t offer too much space.
A tortoise that lives with others won’t hang around with each other, that’s for sure. Once they come into contact, they will often move to opposite ends of the enclosure.
Tortoises seem to get a little annoyed with life when they contact other tortoises for too long. They seem to need to move away to relax and chill.
I have never seen signs of stress unless there is a fight. You dont want to see signs of stress but moving away from one another in typical behavior.
Introverted people remind me of tortoises; they can get along with others but not for too long before they need their own space.
Don’t Force Their Interactions
Tortoises are not humans, and they dont have or need social skills to survive. You will be unable to persuade two tortoises to become friends. Don’t try to force two tortoises to interact with each other this can cause them stress. If they want to interact with one and another, they will do so in their own time.
If you try to force tortoises to interact, it can cause undue stress and make the most friendly tortoise aggressive.
Let them interact with each other if and when they want to a friendship will build over time if they are going to happen. Keep a close eye on them, so nothing turns hostile but don’t force their interaction.
Provide Enough Food for Everyone, Plus More
Suppose your tortoises are good at controlling their food intake and don’t overeat if you put more food in their enclosure. Supply more food in the enclosure than both tortoises can manage to eat. You want your tortoise to get their fill and have food leftover that you need to remove after eating.
Providing so much food can seem strange, but there is sound reasoning for the practice.
Tortoises will become aggressive if they believe there is not enough food to go around. It is not the most common problem; however, taking this simple step can keep food aggression away. Food aggression is hard to stop once it happens, so supply more food than your tortoise needs to keep it away.
Match Their Size
One of the biggest problems I see when people try to match up two tortoises is not considering their size. Pairing a fully grown adult with a tortoise that much younger and smaller is not the best move.
If a pair of tortoises start to fight with a significant size difference, there will only be one winner. Unfortunately, even if the big guy doesn’t start the fight, he will likely end it. With a big size difference, the little guy may not live to fight another day.
Avoid mixing dramatically different size tortoises; it may be hard to match size up perfectly however you want as close a match as possible.
Consider Tortoise Personalities
I know a tortoise has a personality, but if you have had a tortoise, you will know each tortoise very much have their own characters. They’re just like humans in terms of personalities; some love to scurry around, and other love to sit and watch the world pass.
Don’t try matching your energetic tortoise with a tortoise that loves to sit and watch the world pass. If you are buying from a reputable tortoise supplier, they will let you know the tortoise’s characteristics.
Accept the Match May Not Work
You can do everything right lighting, space, size of the enclosure, and food, and the match just may not work out. We have to accept that some tortoises just won’t get along with others.
Tortoises are built to survive alone, and if you force the issue, you can cause stress; accepting the combination is not going to work is the kindest thing you can do.
Can Separated Tortoises Spend Time Together?
Yes, this is completely fine to offer your tortoise time together even if full-time living didn’t work out. If they didn’t get along, I would keep a close eye on them, so no fighting starts. However, you may find that they get along fine in an open yard.
Be ready to separate upon any signs of aggression or stress being exhibited from either tortoise. It can fade over time if you keep exposing them to each other however they may never get along.
Keeping tortoises is excellent, and keeping them in pairs can be even more fun if you can get a match that works. However, if you can’t get a couple of tortoises that get along, you can be assured that tortoises dont get lonely.
The best advice I can give about matching tortoises is to take your time and bring them together slowly. Following some of the tips in our guide will provide you with the best chance of success.