The smaller tortoises species make better indoor pets. You don't have to worry about a large 2-foot sulcata walking around your home, or a 16-inch leopard tortoise spoiling your carpet. Smaller tortoises can be housed in large storage totes year-round inside your home. The most popular inside tortoises are the smaller Mediterranean tortoise species, such as the Russian tortoise, Greek tortoise, Hermann's tortoise and Egyptian tortoise.
Russian tortoises are native to the dry deserts of areas such as Afghanistan, Northern Pakistan and Northern and Eastern Iran. Adult Russian tortoises reach 6 to 8 inches in length and thrive best with a semi-dry habitat. Some Russian tortoises can be shy and more reserved, and it may take a little while for them to get used to you. Others can be quite outgoing and curious, following you around and taking food from your hands. With proper housing and diet, this species can live up to 50 years.
Greek tortoises are native to the open forests, grasslands and deserts of Africa, Europe and Asia. Adult Greek tortoises reach 8 to 10 inches in length, and thrive best with a low-protein, high-fiber diet. Generally Greek tortoises are shy, but over time they will adapt to their environment and caretakers. They may even become quite personable, but it may take time. With proper housing and diet, Greek tortoises may live up to 50 years.
Hermann's tortoises are native to a wide range of areas including France, Italy, Bulgaria, Spain and the former Yugoslavia. They do best in open enclosures that have good air ventilation. Adult Hermman's tortoises may reach up to 10 inches in length. Two subspecies exist: the Western and Eastern Hermann's tortoises. Both subspecies are very active, most so in the mornings and late afternoons throughout the spring, summer and fall months. The average lifespan of a Hermann's tortoise is about 30 years.
Egyptian tortoises are native to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea from Libya, along ancient Cyrenaica, across Egypt and into southern Palestine. Adult Egyptian tortoises are small, with adult males reaching up to 4 inches and females up to 5 inches in length. Egyptian tortoises are more fragile than most pet tortoise species and are also more expensive. They are great climbers and have big personalities for such small creatures. Egyptian tortoises have an average lifespan of up to 50 years.
Poaching Wild Tortoises
Many tortoises are nearly extinct in their native habitats because of habitat destruction, human development and poaching for the pet market. Some tortoises are harvested for food, jewelry and various medicinal purposes. A few organizations have conservation programs, and some laws are in place to protect these animals from poaching, but many retailers still offer wild-caught tortoises for sale in the pet market. When looking for a new tortoise, you want to make sure that you purchase a captive-bred tortoise.