Buying A Tortoise
Until the early 80's wild caught tortoises were imported from abroad and sold in the UK. This caused serious harm to the wild tortoise populations and to protect the species an import ban on European tortoises was introduced in 1984. Only captive bread or those imported before the import ban can now be commercially traded. The law was further updated in 1999 to include a further 18 non European species of tortoise.
Many of the Hermann's tortoises advertised as captive bread that are sold by pet shops, garden centres or tortoise 'shops' are actually imported from tortoise farms in Europe and are not UK captive bread. They are often imported in awful cramped conditions, can be dehydrated, have worm infestations and generally be in poor health. Often the care advice from a shop is at best inadequate or worse completely wrong. There are as well some wild caught tortoises that are still illegally brought into the UK and sold on as captive bread.
So, where do you get a tortoise from? Well, there are always a good many tortoises that require re-homing and there are groups such as The Tortoise Trust that can assist with this. If you are able to show that you can provide a good home and the right care you may be able to adopt a tortoise via such a group for free and not have to pay the high costs that a pet shop would charge.
The other alternaive is to find a local breader. This will be someone who sells from their home, not a shop. They will normally charge but should offer continuing support and advice on the care of your tortoise and will have the legally required paperwork for selling tortoises.
Never purchase over the internet or recieve an animal via courier.
A Few Things To Consider
- A Hermann's tortoise has a long life span, potentially to 100 years or so. So consider your own age and who would provide continuing care if you were no longer around to look after it or became unable to care for it.
- Is there someone who would be able to look after your tortoise if you go on holiday? That person would need to understand what's involved.
- Do you have the space for indoor and outdoor accommodation?
- Do you have sufficient funds to provide all necessary equipment and care? Combined heat / UV bulbs can be around £50+ depending on the brand and will need replacing every few months plus you will need a spare. Your electricity bill may increase and you may need to purchase a hibernation fridge. Vets bills may be expensive. A reptile specialist typically charges slightly more than a regular vet.
- Are you able to provide fresh food (weeds / flowers) - this may mean growing some of your own and having appropriate places and the time to pick 'wild' weeds.