How Much Space Tortoises Need? [Space Requirement Chart]

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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People often wrongly assume that tortoises can live in relatively small enclosures. They don’t need a vast yard for running about, but they do need enough room to sniff around in, wash off after a meal, spread out a blanket, and get some shut-eye.

Tortoises that are not as large may be housed in enclosures of 8 feet by 4 feet (244 cm by 122 cm). Your tortoise’s habitat should have walls that are at least 12 inches (30 cm) taller than it when standing on its rear legs. Adult tortoises that grow very big need a larger enclosure with taller sides.

The fish tank is the quickest and least expensive option that will get the job done, but your pet tortoise won’t be as content as it could be.

Why not learn more about the specific space needs of tortoises, and then use that information to design a habitat that perfectly suits your pet? The results for your tortoise’s happiness will be significant!

So let’s keep reading.

How To Choose The Appropriate Tortoise Habitat Size?

To properly care for your tortoise, you will need to invest a substantial sum of money. If you want to get off to a good start with your tortoise, it seems sensible to get the finest supplies right away.

Choosing the correct enclosure, however, might seem like a nightmare of uncertainty because of the abundance of available alternatives.

First, let’s go through a few of the factors you need to think about prior to actually constructing the habitat for your pet, followed by some rough dimensions.

If you ask yourself these questions, you’ll be well on your way to creating the ideal habitat for your tortoise.

An Ideal Tortoise Habitat According To An Expert

An ideal habitat is large and spacious.  It has the correct UVB bulb and heat bulb.  There is access to fresh water daily, a cool side and a hot side. Sometimes you may want to cover part of the top (not by the light bulbs) to keep heat or humidity in. 

The best way is a piece of plexiglass.  It is best to keep the habitat away from the window or drafty areas.  It is also important to keep tortoises/turtles away from other pets especially dogs and cats since they are predators and can severely injure or kill them.

Patty Mesich

How Large Will Your Tortoise Become?

One of the first things you need to know is how large your tortoise will become. Even though newborn tortoises typically develop at a leisurely rate it’s still crucial to know how large they’ll reach.

There are some species that grow to be quite enormous. You can make better choices in the present if you have a sense of what your tortoise will look like when they are grown up.

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It is possible to keep some species of tortoise in a space the size of a bedroom or a large chamber.

Russian tortoises, for instance, have a carapace that is just an inch or so long when they are first born. That, by the way, is quite endearing.

A little tortoise that fits in your hand is hard to say no to. However, let’s not go off-topic… Many adult Russian tortoises are less than 10 inches in length.

A 10-inch tortoise won’t need much space, but if you can give it its own place, it will be very grateful.

If you’re after a sulcata or other giant species, you should know that they need a lot of room to thrive—space that, in most cases, can’t be found within the average home.

The maximum weight for a sulcata tortoise is 150 lbs. The width of its enormous shells may reach 36 inches.

When compared to other tortoises, their growth rate is exceptional. Over the course of 5–10 years, they may gain up to 80 pounds.

It’s obvious that a sulcata tortoise would not thrive in a habitat designed for a Russian tortoise. Although it may seem that we are being too dramatic by comparing tortoises of such vastly different sizes, it is important that our readers grasp the significance of size.

An inadequate cage may be purchased if the expected size of a particular breed is unknown. While the tortoise could make it through its ordeal in such a cramped space, its overall health would suffer.

These gentle, kind animals are very sensitive to stress and may easily perish as a result.

How Many Tortoises Do You Intend To Keep?

It’s important to think about the future and whether or not you plan to expand to your pet population while purchasing tortoises.

Start with a significantly larger habitat now if you intend to, or believe you may wish to add tortoises later on. In the end, you’ll end up saving money by doing this.

You see, a decent home for a tortoise is not cheap. Earlier, we emphasized that you should invest a lot of money in your pet’s well-being.

 A year later, if you choose you want to add a second tortoise but only bought an enclosure large sufficient to accommodate one, you will have to virtually completely redo the habitat.

Your expenses have effectively doubled, if not more. Investing in the bigger cage now will save you time and effort when it comes to adding another tortoise to the household.

In most cases, upgrading to a larger container will be less expensive than purchasing a second full system.

Will Your Tortoise Need To Hibernate?

While this is not true for all species of tortoise, many do hibernate throughout the winter. Some members of hibernating populations have been known to forego their winter sleep.

While it’s impossible to know for sure whether or not your particular tortoise will hibernate, it is possible to research the breed and be well-prepared for its demands.

Why is space relevant in any way to this? To put it simply, tortoises can’t just hibernate anywhere. Your tortoise may perish if you don’t provide it with its unique habitat.

Will Your Tortoise Dig A Hole?

The majority of tortoise species like digging and burrowing. The need to burrow and hide underneath is ingrained in their biology.

Some individuals do it just for amusement. Whether or not your tortoise breed is a huge digger, it’s always a good idea to give it plenty of areas to burrow. It’s impossible to predict their future interests.

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The digging requirements of smaller tortoise species will be substantially lower than those of their larger counterparts.

Another factor that should be taken into account when choosing a suitable cage for your tortoise is its expected mature size. This point cannot be emphasized enough on our part.

What Are The Space Requirement For Different Tortoises?

Whether you wish to retain one or a hundred tortoises, the dimensions of your tortoise, its possible behaviors, and your ultimate goal are all known to you.

With this knowledge, you may go on with planning and constructing a suitable cage for your tortoise.

Tortoise enclosures should have walls that are at least 12 inches taller than your tortoise when she is on her hind legs. Keep your tort safe from injury by removing any steep ornaments from the edges of the cage.

Pets of small species may be housed in plastic tubs as newborns, but these containers should not be used for any longer than necessary.

Make the plastic bins very deep so that kids won’t want to climb in them. On the other hand, wooden housings are simple to construct and expand.

They are not as simple to maintain as plastic or glass but they are often highly durable. Tortoises prefer the warmth and safety of wood materials to man-made materials like metal, plastic, or glass.

These suggestions should help you choose the optimal conditions for your tortoises. You should allow one extra foot for every three inches you think an adult would be in height.

For every inch you can, tack on additional one feet. An 8-by-4-foot habitat is enough for a pair of Russian tortoises, but they would be happier with extra room.

This is true of every species available. In this case, more really is better, so don’t skimp.

Dimensions Of Tortoise Enclosures

The adult tortoise’s size, the kind of decorations you want to use, and the substrate you intend to use all play a role in determining how large an enclosure you’ll need.

The typical housing needs for tortoises are as follows:

Tortoise BreedSpace Requirements
Hermann Tortoise:Minimum 4ft by 2ft Sides, 18 inches high.
Desert Tortoise:Minimum6ft by 3ft Sides, 18 inches high.
Russian Tortoise:Minimum 4ft by 3ft Sides, 12 inches high.
Horsefield Tortoise:Minimum 4ft by 3ft Sides, 12 inches high.
Sulcata Tortoise:Minimum 10ft by 10ft Sides, 24 inches high.
Leopard Tortoise:Minimum 10ft by 8ft Sides, 18 inches high.
Red Foot Tortoise:Minimum 8ft by 4ft Sides, 12 inches high.

Hermann Tortoise Space requirement:

Small in size (at most 8 inches in length), Hermann tortoises are well-liked for their calm demeanor and need a somewhat large living area.

The problem is that they also like digging, exploring, and foraging as much as they enjoy eating. Because of this, they require a container that is 4 feet wide by 2 feet deep by 18 inches high.

Desert TortoiseSpace requirement:

The average adult desert tortoise is around 15 inches long and may reach a height of 4 to 6 inches.

They need a cage that is at a minimum of 6 x 3 feet and 18 inches tall since they prefer to dig and may bury themselves 3-6 feet in depth.

Russian Tortoise Space requirement:

An mature Russian tortoise will be between 6 and 8 inches long, thus its indoor cage should be at least 4 by 3 feet in size.

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The enclosure’s sides must be at least 12 inches high to prevent the tortoise from escaping. Given their digging tendencies, a space any smaller might be insufficient for an adult Russian tortoise.

Horsefield Tortoise Space requirement:

Horsefield tortoises demand a large amount of space since they may reach a length of 10 inches or more. A horse field tortoise requires a minimum 4-by-3-by-12-inch cage.

Sulcata Tortoise Space requirement:

Sulcata tortoises need a lot of room since they are the world’s largest and slowest tortoises. They may reach a length of 2-3 feet and have a carapace that is up to 18 inches in length.

Given their size, these tortoises need a minimum habitat size of 10′ x 10′ with 24-inch high walls.

Leopard Tortoise Space requirement:

The leopard tortoise is the world’s fourth-largest tortoise species, thus it needs a lot of room.

The standard height for an adult is 16 inches. The only time a leopard tortoise enjoys digging is when it’s making a nest.

A habitat for a leopard tortoise should be at least 10×8 feet in length, and 18 inches in height.

Red Foot Tortoise Space requirement:

Red foot tortoises need a moderate amount of room since they grow to be between 11 and 13 inches long.

The lack of a desire to dig or burrow means that shallow cages are sufficient for these animals. One adult red foot requires a habitat that is at least 8 feet in length, 4 feet in width, and 12 inches in height.

How Much Room Does a Tortoise Baby Require?

This is dependent on the number of young tortoises that you have.

Get a pen that’s 8 feet long and 4 feet wide for a tortoise baby that will grow to be around 4 inches long. There’s plenty of room for up to ten baby tortoises in this cage.

Problems With A Small Enclosure

As a primary concern, a tiny habitat will make your tortoises miserable. Imagine if you were confined to your room forever.

For a couple of weeks, maybe, but after that, you’d go stir-crazy. It’s the same with tortoises. People seldom think of tortoises as being adventurous creatures.

Tortoises may be slow and sedentary in captivity, but in the outdoors they are active and curious. They take great pleasure in exploring new territories and vigilantly guarding familiar ones.

It is our responsibility, as caretakers, to provide tortoises with adequate living quarters so that they may perform all of the above and more while in confinement.

  • Tortoises maintained in cramped conditions suffer from anxiety. As a result, they can lose their appetite and starve to death. They might be getting excessive rest or inadequate sleep.
  • A lack of room is dull. It’s possible that a bored tortoise won’t have anything to do but eat. Several health problems, including obesity, are linked to excessive feeding.
  • Many tortoise owners claim that their tortoises attempt to escape the container at all hours throughout the day. Although endearing, at first sight, this is unfortunately not good news.
  • Tortoises, bored with their enclosures, attempt to break out. This behavior indicates the tortoise is bored and needs a larger enclosure.
  • Believe it or not, it’s more challenging to maintain tidiness in confined areas. They are difficult since they must be cleaned considerably more regularly to avoid hazardous bacterial accumulation.
  • Unfortunately, many people who care for tortoises simply cannot catch pace with such high need. This means that basic hygiene practices like cleaning and disinfecting are neglected and your tortoise will become ill.


It’s true that tortoises need a lot of room relative to the size of their bodies, but keeping one is well worth the effort.

They are wonderful companion animals that impart a one-of-a-kind flavor of adventure onto the inhabitants of any home.

Those that invest the time and energy into learning about tortoises and their care, as well as the resources necessary to meet those demands, are blessed with a loyal companion for the rest of their lives.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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