If you have a pet tortoise, you may wonder if it needs company. A group of tortoises that live together is called a ‘creep.’ Most tortoise species are solitary animals in the wild, typically living alone.
While tortoises can’t live with turtles or snakes, they can sometimes share an enclosure with certain species of lizards if the temperature and humidity requirements are compatible.
Never keep two or more male tortoises together because they’re highly territorial and will fight. Several females can co-exist but never pair two different species of tortoises.
Wherever possible, tortoises should live alone, as they’re happier this way and will likely be safer.
Do Tortoises Need Companionship?
You may feel concerned that a single tortoise will become depressed and lonely.
Rest assured, this outcome is unlikely. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology describe tortoises as solitary animals, usually contented in their own company.
All the same, you may be keen to introduce a second reptile pet. If that’s the case, you’ll need to determine if the second animal can safely live with a tortoise.
Here are the reptile compatibility factors to consider:
- Living space – How large will each reptile grow, and will the habitat provide sufficient space?
- Aggression and temperament – Will the two species get along and peacefully co-exist?
- Living conditions – Will both reptiles need the same temperature and humidity level in their habitat?
- Diet – Will they fight over food? Would a tortoise’s diet make the other reptile sick?
- Health – Would the two reptiles pass parasites and diseases to each another?
To determine whether tortoises can live with other reptiles, we must assess each species.
Can Tortoises Live with Other Tortoises?
The first pairing to consider is bringing together a union of two tortoises:
|Can different breeds and species of tortoise live together?||No|
|Can two male tortoises live together?||No|
|Can two female tortoises live together?||Yes|
|Can one male and one female tortoise live together?||No|
|Can one male and several female tortoises live together?||Yes|
Pairing Different Breeds of Tortoise
The risk of pairing two different tortoise species is a size discrepancy.
For example, pairing a Marginated Tortoise, which grows to up to 14 inches, with a Hermann’s Tortoise, which rarely exceeds 8 inches.
The Marginated tortoise will dominate a Hermann’s tortoise through sheer size, which could leave them devoid of food, shelter, and access to a heat lamp.
There are also differences in living conditions. The Marginated tortoise needs a humidity level of 60-70%, while Hermann’s tortoises need dryer living conditions, with a humidity level of 40-60%.
Two species could have different dietary needs, so the food one tortoise eats could make another unwell.
Red-footed tortoises’ diet consists of up to 50% fruit, while Mediterranean tortoises shouldn’t eat fruit because it can cause digestive distress and discomfort.
Also, some tortoises eat meat, such as rainforest tortoises, but most species are herbivorous.
Tortoises rarely bite humans or show signs of aggression beyond vocalizations, like hissing.
As tortoises are loners, they only interact during the mating season. This means two male tortoises will often butt heads in their quest to be considered the dominant tortoise with mating rights.
Two males will enter conflicts, even without a female. They’ll fight for supremacy over territory, food, and favored toys/items. Tortoises don’t fight to the death, but skirmishes will be unsettling and stressful.
Female tortoises are less concerned with territorial disputes and likelier to live together calmly. You’ll still need to consider the needs of each tortoise, ensuring they have sufficient space.
Two tortoises sharing one enclosure means double the workload in care and husbandry.
You’ll need to monitor the hygrometer, ensuring the humidity levels remain consistent. Observe each tortoise, ensuring they eat and drink sufficiently to remain healthy.
One Male, One Female
Tortoises will breed in captivity, which may not be what you want to happen.
Also, one male tortoise with a solitary female will become agitated and aggressive. The male will focus on the female, whether his advances are welcome or otherwise, causing stress for the female.
One Male, Several Females
If you intend to breed tortoises, it’s advisable to home one male with several females because this will prevent the male from fixating on one potential mate.
According to the Journal of Zoology, male tortoises prefer to breed with larger females, so pair the male with several females of equivalent size.
You’ll need a large set-up if you keep several tortoises in the same habitat. Tortoises forced to live too close together will grow stressed, which isn’t conducive to happy and contented lives.
Can You Keep Turtles and Tortoises Together?
As tortoises and turtles are from the order Testudines (or Chelonia), some people mistakenly believe they can live together. However, turtles are aquatic, while tortoises are land-dwelling animals.
Tortoises can hold their breath for 1-2 minutes; turtles can breathe underwater for 30-45 minutes.
The Journal of Experimental Biology explains that breathing patterns differ from aquatic turtles. Water is essential for turtles’ metabolic processes and survival, but tortoises will drown.
Most aquatic turtles have an omnivorous diet when they come to land. While some tortoises are also omnivorous, most are herbivorous. So, turtles and tortoises should be housed separately.
Can Tortoises and Lizards Live Together?
Some tortoises and lizards (from the family Scincidae) get along relatively well. However, while they can live together in the same home, they shouldn’t be housed in the same enclosure.
Before introducing them, quarantine them for 4 weeks to avoid spreading sicknesses and parasites. Once introduced, ensure they’re supervised during any interactions.
This table will outline which lizards can live alongside tortoises:
|Bearded Dragons:||Both reptiles have relaxed temperaments and tolerate each other well.|
|Iguana:||Tortoises and iguanas may not become friends, but they ignore each other.|
|Geckos:||Geckos like their own company.|
|Chameleons:||Chameleons prefer to live alone.|
|Skinks:||Skinks dislike the company of other reptiles.|
Larger lizards, such as iguanas, water dragons, and tegus, shouldn’t be kept with tortoises due to the risk of conflict and injury. They also need higher humidity than tortoises.
Can Snakes and Tortoises Live Together?
In some regards, tortoises and snakes have several things in common. They’re both ectotherms that live in hot and humid locations, burrow under substrates, and are solitary animals.
However, never pair a tortoise and a snake in the same living space because they’ll fight for territory.
Popular pets, like gopher snakes, corn snakes, and kingsnakes, are non-venomous, but they still move faster than tortoises, able to deliver a painful bite to the neck or face.
A carnivorous snake won’t eat a tortoise because it can’t constrict due to its tough shell. Equally, a herbivorous tortoise will have no interest in killing and eating a snake.
However, this won’t prevent disputes between tortoises and snakes over territory, causing stress.
The answer to the question “what other reptiles can live with tortoises?” is very few. Tortoises are happiest when keeping their own company, so an owner should give them a solitary life.