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Cosy Tortoises

Innovative Tortoise Housing and Ideal Set-Up and Care Information

Tropical Tortoises

Temperature range: 20 - 35 degrees Celsius, but usually in humid environments temperatures stay closer to 25-30 degrees Celsius

Humidity: Moderate to high humidity - tortoises found on moist soil, leaf-litter in forested areas or grass meadows typical of South America and fertile parts of Asia.

​Natural UV levels: Moderate to high equivalent approximately UVB 5-10% - tortoises typically live in areas that are partially protected from the sun most of the time to prevent dehydration such as forest floors or well established grassland.

Typical tortoise species are;

Redfoot, Yellow-foot, Cherry-head, Chacos, Bell's-hinged, Indian stars, Radiated Stars, Brown and Galapagos tortoises.

Recommended housing for Tropical Tortoises

All tortoises housed in the UK need permanent access to a heatlamp both indoors and outdoors.  This is particularly important for tropical species who do not cope well with temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius.  Any outdoor set-up in more temperate environments must take this fact into account and provide a high enough background all of the time.

​​Indoor Tortoise Tables set-ups are ideal as a back-up plan for tropical tortoises incase your outdoor set-up has an issue or if your tortoise needs to recover from an illness or be separated from the group for awhile.

The one thing that is true for most Tropical tortoises is that they are damp-tolerant in fact most of them will suffer dry-eye issues (usually just watery eyes however they can develop eye infections) if kept too dry and can become dehydrated simply because they are adapted for a moist substrate and humid atmosphere.   Keeping the substrate moist enough is a good way to increase the atmospheric humidity near the ground where it is particularly important for tortoises simply because their heads are near the ground.

A greenhouse-style run is essential fro keeping Tropical tortoises outside.  After that the balance between air-flow and keeping the humidity high enough is important.  The. versatility of our Natural Ground Houses with their Greenhouse-style runs is ideal.  They have a top section that slopes down from the front-edge of the Hide-house roof much like a large cold frame that is the full width of the house and covers the run completely.  The top sits on solid wood walls that are just high enough so the tortoises can't see through them but at the sides have triangular windows to allow the run to be draught-proof in cold weather.  In warmer weather the roof can be propped open to allow a better air-flow or completely removed when closer to 25 degrees Celsius in summer.  Regardless the tortoises have the ground material they need that can be kept as damp or dry as they prefer with a good variety within the hide and outside area.  A extra heatlamp can be hung in the covered run to maintain a high enough background temperature in winter, particularly for tortoises that don't hibernate.

The size of a set-up is important to keep stress levels to a minimum.  It goes without saying that giving your tortoises as much space as possible is ideal however as guideline these are our minimum space recommendations for different Tropical tortoise species;

Small Natural Ground Houses are appropriate for adult smaller Tropical tortoises such as bell's-hinged, Chacos or Cherry-head tortoises.  

Medium Natural Ground House would be adequate for Brown tortoises or 1-2 Redfoot or Yellow-foot tortoises.  

A Large Natural Ground house would be suitable for Redfoot, Yellowfoo or 1-2 Indian and Radiated stars.

A higher wall-height of 40cm can be requested for adult Redfoot, Yellow-foot and Indian stars whereas Radiated stars can get longer so 50cm walls may be required.  An Extra-Tall Natural Ground house is appropriate for these species who can easily see over and 30 cm high wall to keep stress levels down.

An Extra-Large Natural Ground House may be more appropriate for a large group of tortoises, being suitable for up to six Redfoot, Yellow-foot, Indian stars or Radiated star tortoises with all three heatlamps fitted to ensure that they can all bask effectively at the same time.

​A Giant Natural Ground House would be ideal for Galapagos Tortoises as long as anti-digging solutions have been employed for the outer boundary and enough heating is supplied in the 8 m x 2 m run throughout the year.  The house would be 1.6 m high with a 70 or 80 cm high run wall-height and could be made taller to allow easy walking around inside without opening the tops like a greenhouse.  

Please discuss any particular requests, options or adaptations you would like via our contact form  or Contact us directly on 01890 818584 or email us at

Please see the Natural Ground House page for details.

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