Help! I’ve Promised My Kid A Tortoise

Una hembra de hamster ruso
Una hembra de hamster ruso (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


There is a 10 year age gap between my two daughters and the youngest, who is eight years old often spins me the line “I’ve got no-one to play with/ talk to”. Those words hit me hard the first time I heard them from my eldest child, this time round I’m feeling even more guilty. My youngest would love another sibling but having another child is strictly off the agenda so after months of deliberating and sulking on my daughters part, we agreed she could have a pet.

Now I’m not the greatest animal lover. I like to watch them and give them a little stroke or pat on the head but cuddling up to some furry kitten or wrestling with a hamster that has escaped out of its cage before it eats my carpet is not my game. I’m not fond of animal smells and I’m not a fan of cleaning up poop either. That’s why the only pets I’ve ever had are fish. I’ve owned many over the years and my daughters have always claimed their favourites as their own, yet when it comes to cleaning the tank they’re mummy’s fish again. I don’t want to be lumbered with the cleaning and caring duties so I told my daughter dogs, hamsters, rabbits and all the other pets she reeled off to me were strictly off limits.


Baby Redfoot Tortoise
Image Source:

This weekend after pleading and tears I agreed that she could have a tortoise but only if she agreed to look after it responsibly and clean its housing. A little pet tortoise would cost a fair packet in the initial stages but be a doddle to care for (or so I thought) and my daughter would have her very own special friend. After doing some research I’m quite dismayed and put off by the amount of care and attention tortoises need. Redfoot, the Hermann and the Russian tortoises are the most popular ones kept as pets but they’re bloody hard work to look after and can be very expensive should they need a visit to the vets.


Hermann “Munster” tortoise
Image Source: Jackies Attic

Whilst doing my web research my daughter seen all the pros and cons listed by various owners as well as videos of the care needed for them. The main pros are:

They can live for a long time.

If owners talk to them regularly they will respond to their owners voice.

They love being outdoors in the summer and so does my daughter.

They can develop funny characters.


Sounds good yeah? Here comes the cons:

Because of poor breeding and transportation, many tortoises die within a year after leaving the pet shop.

Hibernation is an important factor which can last for up to 6 months with the UK’s long winters and they have to be fasted before hibernation and the temperature of their hibernation housing has to be well monitored and ventilated.

Some tortoises grow to big sizes which means having to buy larger housing for it as well as finding the space in the home too.

Their diets are extremely fussy and different tortoises eat various foods which to break it down foods which are good for one species could be toxic to another.

That’s only a few of them. I was turned off the idea more quicker than I was turned on. However, the kid is more in love with the ugly looking reptiles than she was at the start. I’ve told her I will speak to the local tropical pet store owner for more information and guidance before I make a decision and for her sake I’m hoping to hear some positives as I really can’t afford to be spending over £200 on a pet only for it to drop dead on me. I would also feel terrible if by my lack of experience I caused an animal stress.


A six year old Russian Tortoise
Image Source:

Choices and Decisions! Responsibilities and Promises! I’m starting to think having another baby might not be such a bad idea after all.

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