About Us... I have found these shelled creatures to be fascinating pets from the time I was a young child and my father helped me catch turtles. This contagious fascination has now spread to my wife and six daughters! 'Slow 'N Steady Tortoises' is one way we share our family hobby with others. Learning how to raise healthy tortoises, regardless of species, is a life long commitment. Through this website, we feel priviliged to share our research, knowlege, and experiences with other tortoise owners. We continue to learn as well!

If you have used our website or purchased a hatchling, please share about your experience in the guest book, for both us and others

Thanks! Bob SNS Tortoises

SNS Tortoises Care Guide and other downloads:

For more information, 'click' on these links:

 The Tortoise Table online "Plant Database" and "Edible Plant Book" is helpful to determine safe weeds, plants, and other foods:


How to Set up and Look after your new tortoise-


-Enclosure (Tortoise table, aquarium, plastic tub, etc)

-2 Lamps with 60-100W Bulb & 10.0 UV Bulb (or 1 Lamp with Mercury Vapour Bulb)

-Substrate (Bark mulch, Soil, Coco husk) 

-Shallow water dish & Food dish/flat rock  

-Calcium powder/Cuttle Bone 

-Water spray bottle 


-HeatMat & Timer (Optional)



-Place 1" of substrate in Enclosure  

-Locate one Lamp with 60-100W bulb over basking area.  

-Check temperatures- should be 95'F under lamp and 75'F in coolest area.  

-Place shallow water dish in cool area.  

-Feeding dish/flat stone placed where desired.  

-Locate the second Lamp with UV Bulb in an area that the tortoise frequently visits (such as basking or feeding area, should be no higher than 8" above substrate).


Note: Some owners use a mercury Vapour Bulb for light, heat, and UV Light.


-A hide may be placed in a warm area which can be kept slightly moist.  

-Place a few 1cm fragments of Cuttle Bone in enclosure (remove scale from one side) 

-Under tank heat pad may be used to supplement heat. Lights may be placed on a timer for 12hrs/day.


-Feed daily, as much as tortoise will eat: Leafy Greens, supplemented with pellets weekly.  

-Sprinkle food with Calcium powder twice per week.  

-Clean water for drinking.  

-Frequently soak hatchling in shallow warm water.  

-Mist tortoise and enclosure with Spray bottle as desired.



The hatchling care requires proper light, heat, and substrate in addition to nutrition and water. As hatchlings, a small homemade box or aquarium will do fine; 24"x12" is all that would be required for the first year.

HEAT AND LIGHTING- Daytime UV lighting and a temperature gradient from 75'F to 95'F are required. There are many variations that can be used to accomplish this. One simple method is to use two lamps, one with a regular 60W light bulb and the other with a compact fluorescent 10.0/26W UV bulb. The most common bulb in local petstores, is the ExoTerra ReptiGlo Desert UVB Lamp. For small enclosures, this combination will provide enough UV light, visual light, and heat, although as larger enclosures are used, additional light may need to be added.  Mercury Vapour Bulbs may be used as well as a source of visible light, heat and UV light. An undertank heat pad or ceramic heater may be used for supplemental night time heat if the environment falls much below 70'F.

To set up, the heat lamp (60W bulb) is generally placed over a desired basking area. The basking area should reach 95'F. Areas furthest away from the basking area should be about 75'F. The tortoise can now thermoregulate itself. The lamp with the UV bulb should be attempted to be placed in an area where the tortoise is most frequently. This can be an area where the tortoise often sleeps or walks, and may often be at the basking spot. Observing your tortoise's behaviour will determine where the UV bulb should be. It should be noted that the UV bulbs must be relatively close to the animal, ideally without glass or screen between the bulb and the animal. The bulb should be less than 8 inches above the tortoise to achieve significant UV exposure. Any distance of 12" or more and the bulb has very little or no effect. These bulbs only emit sufficient UV light for 1 year. As mentioned, an undertank heat pad can be added if desired to further control the heat gradient.

SUBSTRATE- As hatchlings, the substrate can last for several months and bricks of Plantation Soil are likely the best option. Occasionally spray the substrate with water to keep some humidity in the enclosure and reduce the dustiness. Pine and Cedar emit poisoness oils. Sand does not absorb odors. Aspen is common for reptiles, although the splinters that are present in shavings should not be eaten by small tortoises and it is often difficult to keep the food free of substrate. Spot cleaning of feces is all that is required to keep the substrate clean for several months when hatchlings.

FOOD & WATER- The food should be a variety of greens, such as romaine lettuce, kale, or spring mix supplemented with commercial food such as Mazuri tortoise chow.  Lightly dust the food 1-2 times per week with calcium powder with vitamin D added.  Place 1cm chunks of cuttle bone around the enclosure for the tortoise to nibble on.

It is best to feed the tortoise on a piece of flat rock or ceramic tile. Uneaten food should be removed to prevent any wrotten organics from accumulating in the enclosure. Water is important to keep clean as the tortoises will often defecate in the water dish. A very shallow dish will do great for the first few months. It evaporates quickly and will last longer if kept in the cooler areas.

HOT HUMID HIDE- Most research suggests that providing a hiding place that remains warm and humid will allow healthy smooth shell growth with as little pyramiding as possible. This is recommended, although care must be taken to not place the humid hiding area in a cool environment. With tortoises: warm & humid is safe, cool & dry is safe, hot & dry or cool & humid can create health and growth problems.

SOAKING- Frequent soaks for the hatchlings is necessary to maintain hydration. Soaking a few times a week for about 10-15 minutes is healthy. Adults should be soaked weekly.