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do tortoises get along with other tortoises?

Can Two Tortoises Live Together? (Pairings That Do + Don’t Work)

Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Samantha Harris

Due to the solitary nature of reptiles, tortoises don’t need a companion.

Two tortoises can live together, but only if they’re both female or have yet to mature.

Two mature male tortoises will fight, and a male will become sexually aggressive if there’s only one female. Male tortoises are most contented living alone or with several females.

If you care for two tortoises, informing yourself about the species’ preferences and ensuring they have enough space is fundamental to their health and well-being.

Should You Keep Tortoises in Pairs?

Tortoises can be kept in pairs, but having a single tortoise is better than having several torts.

Unlike most other animals, tortoises are solitary creatures that only come together to mate. Even female tortoises leave their hatchlings to fend for themselves after laying their eggs.

As tortoises aren’t social animals, they don’t feel lonely. Keeping a tortoise alone can improve its quality of life because it’ll have territory and won’t need to compete for essential resources.

Unless you have a large tank or enclosure, you should only have one tortoise per enclosure.

A tank, tortoise table, or enclosure may look big, but it may not be enough for multiple torts, which evolved to live separately with significant terrain between each other.

Putting two tortoises together without considering their age, species, and sex can lead to stress, injury, and death. Keeping two tortoises in separate enclosures is recommended.

keeping male and female tortoises together

Can Two Female Tortoises Live Together?

Two female tortoises are the pairing most likely to get along. Unfortunately, this doesn’t eliminate the risk of aggressive behavior, but interactions will be calmer.

Two female torts can co-exist because they’re less competitive, especially if they have enough resources.

When angry, female tortoises will engage in hostile behaviors, such as:

Hostile behavior between females is most likely to happen during the mating season. This defensive behavior is to protect their nests from harm. Hormone levels are highly elevated at this time.

Besides aggressive behavior, females also display avoidant behavior, including:

Even though this avoidant behavior doesn’t physically harm them, it does stress them out.

Can Two Male Tortoises Live Together?

Male tortoises should never be kept together, as they’ll become aggressive toward each other.

No matter what species they are, how docile they may seem when left alone, or whether or not they’re related, male tortoises should be kept apart.

Male tortoises that live together will always compete for space and resources, even if there’s plenty to go around. They fight until the dominant male is established, and the submissive male will be bullied.

A fight for dominance between two male tortoises can go on for days, with tortoises headbutting and knocking each other on their backs. During this time, tortoises can hurt each other.

Even after a dominant male has been established, the submissive male will live in fear of the other.

Can You Keep A Male and Female Tortoise Together?

Avoid keeping a male and female tortoise together long-term.

The pair should only live together briefly if you want them to reproduce. A sexually mature male will always want to mate with the female, to the detriment of her health.

This damage is avoided in the wild because male tortoises have many mating options.

Also, females can distance themselves from the males if they’re disinterested in mating. In an enclosed tank or enclosure, the female has nowhere to hide.

When tortoises are tiny hatchlings, it’s almost impossible to determine their gender. If it turns out that one is male and one is female, you must keep them in different enclosures.

Tortoise breeds reach maturity at different ages:

Tortoise TypeReaches Maturity
Russian Tortoise10 years old
Pancake Tortoise5-9 years old
Egyptian Tortoise5-7 years old
Hermann’s Tortoise4-5 years old
Greek Tortoise10 years old
Sulcata Tortoise5 years old
Marginated Tortoise8-14 years old

If you’re getting tortoises, the breeder should be able to tell you if you have a male or female.

Can Two Tortoises Be Friends?

Two tortoises can get along if they’re the right pairing.

Although some people believe that male tortoises can get along after a dominant male has been established, this isn’t the case. The dominant tort will bully the submissive one.

Two juvenile tortoises can live together but ensure their territory is adequate. Just because the tortoises haven’t matured doesn’t mean they don’t fight for space.

Even juvenile tortoises show signs of aggression if there’s insufficient space. Chelonian Conservation and Biology stated that juveniles display hostility if too many are in a burrow.

do tortoises need companionship?

Can Two Different Tortoise Species Live Together?

Avoid pairing different tortoise species together due to aggression and disease risk. Different species have bacteria that won’t harm them but can cause diseases in others.

Housing different species together is risky due to their physical differences. If the two tortoises are of various sizes, the smaller one could get injured by the bigger one.

Different species have different shell hardiness. Even if you house two docile species, one could accidentally hurt the other because one has a more vulnerable shell.

There’s little compatibility between different species. You may assume that putting them together will work if you match their aggression levels, but it’ll require constant supervision.

To keep a tortoise happy, match their environment to what they’d have in the wild. If two tortoise species don’t naturally interact in the wild, keep them apart.

How To Introduce Two Tortoises

If you want to introduce a new tortoise to an existing one, keep them apart for 4 to 6 months before they interact. This quarantine period ensures neither animal has parasites or a transmissible illness or disease.

Allow them to interact in a new environment for 10 to 15 minutes. Be ready to separate them if they start to fight, and never leave new tortoises alone unsupervised.

You can house them together if they haven’t shown signs of aggression after about a week.

If you house them in a tank that belonged to one tortoise, clean and rearrange things so the old tortoise doesn’t feel like its territory is being taken away.

Creating a new environment for both pet tortoises allows them to start afresh. This is the most effective way to ensure two tortoises can live together, even if they’ll never be friends.