Well, tortoises are definitely not famous for their social skill. In fact, these creatures prefer solitude and private life away from unnecessary interaction. What if you put another reptile in a tortoise’s enclosure? What will be the situation?
Tortoises can live with other reptiles like lizards, skinks, snakes, chameleons, bearded dragons, and monitors. But housing two different species is not encouraged. It can spread diseases, and there is a risk of interbreeding. Besides, the pets may not get along and always fight each other.
I have shared my insight into the compatibility of tortoises with a second reptile in the following write-up.
Do Tortoises Need A Tank Mate?
See, we humans are scared of loneliness and crave companionship. No wonder why we measure all animals with the same scale. But in reality, some creatures prefer a solitary life. Take the example of your pet tortoises.
Apparently, tortoises do not get lonely and depressed without a friend. The creatures enjoy spending their time alone, playing, and sleeping. In fact, forcing them to share the enclosure with a tank mate can ruin their mood.
Again, these pets are docile and kind to their owners. But you can not expect a social interaction with them. In no case tortoises can be as frank as cats or dogs.
In summary, tortoises need no tank mates or companions. They even hate frequent interaction with their owners. So, keeping your pet tortoises isolated in a single pen is always recommended.
However, though tortoises do not crave companionship, a friend in the tank may not harm them. In fact, tortoises can get along with many pets quite easily.
Of course, there are certain requirements to meet before welcoming other animals to the tortoise tank. Keep reading to find all the details.
Can Tortoises Live With Reptiles?
Tortoises are not the only reptile worthy of being a pet. Snakes, lizards, bearded dragons, skinks, etc., also make good companions for us.
But the main issue arises while creating a co-habitat of other reptiles with tortoises. No wonder keepers doubt before introducing snakes or geckos to the tortoise habitat.
Well, tortoises can live with reptiles. But it is always suggested not to mix different species because of the health hazard and risk of inter-breeding.
Yet, you can try cohabitating tortoises with other reptiles by manipulating the surroundings. For example, expand the territory, provide enough resources for all tank mates, maintain an optimum environment, etc.
Tortoise Compatibility With Other Reptiles
So, tortoises can get along with more or less all pet reptiles. But is there any specific species more suitable for tortoises?
Let’s compare the compatibility of tortoises with different reptiles.
1. Can Tortoises Live With Leopard Geckos?
Leopard geckos are quite popular as pets. Evidently, these lizards can live well with tortoises in the same enclosure because of the similarities in the care sheet. For example, the geckos prefer a high temperature and humid environment.
Like the tortoises, the geckos do not need a deep water source. Instead, continuous access to a shallow water bowl suits them.
Again, an adult leopard gecko will grow 6 – 9 inches. When housing them with tortoises, you must consider this size.
Tortoise species that are compatible with leopard geckos regarding size are,
- Greek tortoises
- Russian tortoises
- Indian star tortoises
- Mediterranean tortoises
- Red footed tortoises, etc.,
Do not think of allowing the leopard gecko with a bigger tortoise species like the Sulcata tortoise. Why not? Well, tortoises can be a bully and may kill the gecko.
But hey! The lizards can be a bully too. Some keepers call the leopard geckos stupid as they might follow the tortoises unintentionally. Such behavior from the tank mate stresses the tortoises, making them uncomfortable.
The difference in meals is the major downer of housing leopard geckos with tortoises. While tortoises are herbivores, the lizards are mostly insectivores. So the owners often struggle to keep up with the basic requirements of the pets.
However, you can turn this disadvantage to your benefit. Because of the contrast in the feeding habits, there is less chance of a fight over the meals.
2. Can Tortoises Live With A Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons can be an active companion for tortoises as they have many similarities. Starting with the size, the dragons may grow around 24 inches and more. They need a spacious habitat for physical activities and movements.
Thus, you can easily pair bearded dragons with large tortoises if you can manage the space. Well, the small reptiles are not suitable companions for Sulacata tortoises or Aldabra tortoises because of the size difference. But with the bearded dragons, it is not an issue.
However, you can also house medium-sized tortoises like elongated tortoises, Russian tortoises, marginated tortoises, etc., with the dragons. It is because both species are calm, docile, and easy-going. Therefore, you will barely witness any bloody fights inside the habitat.
The bearded dragons demand a pen with a temperature gradient, usually from 100F to 75F. During the night, a drop in the temperature (70F) helps these pets sleep well. Hence, the temperature requirement for the tortoises and the bearded dragons is similar.
In spite of having so many similarities, some owners prefer not to mix these two species because of the meals. Usually, tortoises depend on a herbivorous diet, while dragons are omnivorous. So, the keepers have to feed the pets separately, which is quite troublesome and time-consuming.
3. Can Tortoises Live With Snakes?
Tortoise and snake care sheets are not a great match. Well, yes, the temperature gradient in the snake’s terrarium ranges from 75F to 85F. It means they can adapt well to the warm habitat of the tortoises.
But this single match is not enough to house these two species. Look at the differences by yourself.
Snakes require a large water source to dip their bodies in. Again, they prefer a protein-rich diet to survive. Such demands are not in favor of the tortoises.
The main reason to discourage housing these two animals together is their nature. Usually, tortoises tend to bully the snakes and may damage their skin permanently. Such hostile nature from the tank mate will force the snakes to escape the pen.
Again, the feeding habits of snakes and tortoises do not match. The former is more into a protein-based diet, and the later one into vegetables.
Well, some owners fear that tortoises will eat snakes or vice versa. But in reality, tortoises are herbivores and have no interest in the flesh.
Likewise, the snakes will not bite the tortoises. But a starving snake may prey on baby tortoise hatchlings.
Considering all aspects, it is advised not to mix snakes and tortoises.
4. Can Tortoises Live With Blue Tounged Skinks?
Blue tongued skinks are one of the most underrated pets. These creatures are low-maintenance, easygoing, and beginner friendly.
With time, keepers are getting more interested in getting a skink. But now the question arises whether they can get along with existing tortoises.
Well, the care sheet comparison may indicate compatibility between these two species. But digging deep will say otherwise.
Firstly, the adult blue tongued skinks may grow up to 30 inches. It means you can not put just any sized tortoise with them. The bigger and stronger animals always tend to pick on the small and weak ones.
Secondly, though tortoises and blue tounged skinks are calm and docile, they have a territorial instinct. This is why both creatures hate company in the enclosure. So introducing a skink to the tortoise pen will only cause more fuss.
Finally, tortoises have different feeding habits than skinks. While the blue tounged skinks are omnivorous, tortoises prefer a plant-based diet. Therefore, the keepers have to be really considerate while preparing the meals.
You can still house a tortoise with a blue tongued skink in a bigger pen. There is a chance of success as the environmental requirement for both is the same.
5. Can Tortoises Live With Chameleons?
Chameleons and tortoises are from the reptile family but need different grooming. For example, tortoises are pure herbivorous. Chameleons, on the other hand, live on a carnivorous diet.
Again, both species are calm. But they can act violently in contact with a tank mate. Therefore, it is advised not to mix these species.
In spite of the differences in dietary and social behavior, you may attempt to keep the tortoises with chameleons. Both creatures prefer a hotter environment (around 80 – 95F), so you will face no challenges there.
However, it is crucial to keep an eye on the pets. Because of the weight advantages, tortoises may attack the chameleon and cause permanent damage.
6. Can Tortoises Live With Monitors?
Well, why not? Tortoises and monitors may cohabitate with each other. But let me warn you. They do not make the best of companions.
From my experience, I find a few similarities between their care sheets. Yes, both species come from a reptile family and prefer a rough, arid environment. But if you dig deeper, the contrasts are more prominent.
For starters, monitors and tortoises have different food habits. While the former ones are carnivores (eat chicken, meat, mice, etc.), the later ones depend on grass and plants.
Moreover, a temperature gradient of 70F – 85F, with a hotter basking area, is perfect for tortoises. But when it comes to monitors, they may require a habitat with 130F temperature in several spots.
Finally, there can be a territorial fight between the monitors and tortoises. Well, yes, tortoises have no potential risk for the monitors.
But because of the weak posture, monitors can get injured by the tortoises. However, you may experiment by putting a tortoise similar in size to the monitors in the same pen. You must consider the diet and temperature differences in this scenario.
7. Can Tortoises Live With Iguanas?
Apparently, iguanas and tortoises can get along just fine. In fact, keepers have records of successfully raising green iguanas with red footed tortoises.
Temperature requirements for iguanas and tortoises are quite the same. For example, the ambient temperature range should be 85F – 95F, and the basking area can reach 105F.
Well, the dietary demand for the species is different. Therefore, the owners can struggle to feed the pets a balanced diet on time.
Again, you may notice many fights when housing the iguanas with tortoises. Mostly, the iguanas take the blow because of their small size.
Therefore, you must ensure that the size difference is not much between the pets. Also, forcing two adults to get along is not recommended. Instead, introduce the baby iguana to the tortoise hatchling and see their friendship.
8. Can Tortoises Live With Turtles?
So, tortoises are the closest relatives of turtles. They have thousands of similarities in appearance, lifespan, lifestyle, and so on. Yet, you can not house these two species together.
The main difference between turtles and tortoises is their ability to swim. Tortoises are land creatures and can not swim. Turtles, on the contrary, struggle to walk on the surface and prefer swimming underwater.
As a result, a turtle’s habitat must include a deep and large water source. Otherwise, the pets become dehydrated and develop physical complexities.
If you add a tortoise to such an enclosure, there is always a risk of drowning. It is the main reason experts discourage housing a tortoise with a turtle.
Should You Add Another Reptile To The Tortoise Housing?
Experts highly discourage adding a second reptile to the tortoise habitat. Have you ever wondered why? Let’s look at the reasons and see whether they stand valid.
1. The Space Issue!
Tortoises can not adjust in small pens. Forcing the pets to live in a congested or crowded habitat can stress them and hamper their natural growth.
You must upgrade the enclosure size when you plan to add another reptile to the tortoise terrarium. Otherwise, both the creatures will be stressed and on each other’s throats.
2. More Fights!
Tortoises, along with most reptiles, are mostly calm. But they also nurture a territorial instinct in them. It is why the residents of a pen may end up fighting each other in space, basking spots, or food. In fact, sometimes, the creatures need no reason to get aggressive and be a bully.
3. Difference In Environmental Requirements
Temperature and humidity are two crucial factors in the tortoise enclosure. A slight drop or rise in the temperature or humidity can cause physical complexities in pets. For example, cold related illnesses, infectious diseases, dry skin or shell, hibernation, etc.
When adding a second reptile, the environmental requirement may not match. As a result, both the tortoise and the reptile will suffer a great deal.
4. Alert For Sickness!
Housing multiple species may pose a health hazard for all the inhabitants. For example, infectious or contagious diseases can spread from one pet to another in the habitat.
Of course, not all the residents have the same level of immunity. Therefore, the weak tenants will suffer more and may experience premature death.
5. Risk Of Interbreeding!
Well, you can not eliminate the risk of interbreeding entirely. While cross-breeding tortoise species is possible, interbreeding the creature with a different species can be harmful. This is another reason experts suggest not to house tortoises with other reptiles.
How To Add A Reptile To The Tortoise Enclosure?
Well, you can go ahead and house your tortoise with other reptiles even after ignoring all the red flags. But in such cases, you must stick to some ground rules to increase the success rate. Such as,
1. Arrange A Bigger Tank
I have already mentioned the necessity of a spacious tank for multiple pets in a single enclosure. If you provide the reptiles with a congested habitat, they will be at each other’s throats all day. As a consequence, the inhabitants will be stressed and attempt to escape the home.
To solve this issue, start by arranging a spacious tank for the tortoises and the second reptile. Of course, the habitat size will depend on the growth of the residents. Aim for a 125-gallon tank if you want to house a medium tortoise with a similar-sized reptile.
Both creatures should have access to enough moving space and basking spots. Otherwise, get ready to witness a fight over the territory.
2. Enough Food For All
Honestly, no creature can withstand hunger. So, if you house more than one pet in the enclosure, make sure to provide enough food.
Not only that. You must consider the meal preferences of the different pets.
Tortoises are always herbivorous. Therefore, a plant-based diet that includes grass, vegetables, leaves, buds, flowers, hays, etc., is necessary for them. Reptiles, on the other hand, may prefer a carnivorous, insectivorous, or omnivorous diet.
Because of such differences in food habits, it is advised to feed the pets separately. I know it is a hassle for the owners, but this is the only way around.
One more thing!
All the reptiles need an accessible water source in the enclosure. Use a shallow dish bowl for this purpose and change the water daily.
3. Gender Does Play A Role!
It is no secret that adult male reptiles are aggressive toward their tank mates and owners. Their hostility spikes up if they are strong and fit. Hence, you must think twice before housing two male species in the same tank.
So, the male reptiles should have a separate home. Put a male tortoise or reptile in a community habitat only during the breeding season.
Well, the female and baby reptiles are not aggressive. Therefore, you can mix a female tortoise with a baby chameleon or skink. They barely attack the tank mates or create a fuss if all their requirements are met.
4. Focus On The Surroundings
Well, all reptiles have unique environmental requirements. For example, a temperature gradient in the pen, proper humidity percentage, lighting, etc. The pets may fall sick if these demands are compromised.
When housing two different species, maintaining such requirements can be tough. It is why you should select a reptile with a similar care sheet as a tortoise.
Remember, maintaining hygiene is mandatory for any species. The dirty habitat can entice bacteria or fungal growth and cause infectious diseases.
5. Quarantine Period Is Mandatory
Reptiles can carry unknown diseases. Any creature coming in contact with the ill reptile may also fall sick. Of course, you can not take such risks for your pets.
So, quarantine the tortoise and the second reptile before transferring them to the common habitat. A month of isolation in a well-equipped enclosure is advised.
6. A Slow Introduction Is Recommended
You can not expect your tortoise and the second reptile to get along from day one. In reality, both the creatures will resent each other and may even break into a fight. But do not lose hope.
Do not introduce the second reptile directly to the tortoise enclosure. But first, allow the creatures to meet outside the habitat and note their reactions.
Make the reptiles comfortable in each other’s sight and contact. Once the pets seem calm, you can house them in the same pen.
It is always wiser to introduce the tortoise to the other reptile when both are babies. The adults are not very welcoming in any situation.
Well, like humans, the preferences of reptiles also change over time. So, it is possible that the tortoise or the second reptile may get violent with each other all of a sudden. Separate the pets immediately to prevent any future damage.
Before You Go…
We have talked about the compatibility of tortoises with other reptiles. But what if we house one tortoise species with another? Read the attached article to find out whether tortoises can live together.