my tortoise has been using a large rock as a pillow, is that normal? also, is there some kind of pillow I can get him that he wont mistakenly eat and make himself sick? Sleeping face first on a rock has to suck 🙁

Well, I’m pretty sure that’ts just your tort being a tort 🙂 

I like to think of it like a sleep number preference. We humans like the softer mattress, smooshie pillows and what not. Torts? They’re more into the firm hard surfaces, like a rock!  Maybe they think they’re snuggling with another tort? (Not very likely.. our torts don’t like to share… noms or their space). 

Torts will seek out the temperature and conditions they need to be comfortable (this is why a temperature gradient is so important). There’s a possibility that they don’t think the substrate is deep enough to dig down, so you can always add more substrate to the enclosure. You can add some plants or other things for them to snuggle into or on.   

Aside from that, I’d say your shell friend is just fond of that rock. The fact they feel safe enough to sleep out in the open like that is a good thing. Not worried about any monsters coming to take them away 🙂 

So yeah, those are my thoughts. Also feel free to take adorable pictures of your sleepy shell friend here. 


Your tortoise’s carapace is jacked up because of the food you give her. The little lips at the edge are signs of a lack of calcium. Kale, lettuce, and other cruciferous veggies/brassicas are SO BAD. Feed dandelions and calcium. Please. For her.

Hi Anon,

Thanks for writing! I’m not sure which tortoise you’re talking about. Zoya pants gets a very healthy diet ( I follow that sites guide) and calcium through TNT supplement (A natural supplement designed for tortoises that you can purchase at Carolina Pet Supply.. its great! Tasty! and doesn’t risk the D3 overload that some of the calcium powders you buy at the pet store can)  She came to me with shell issues and worms but she’s been doing well. I keep a close eye on her all the time. I still worry all the time and appreciate the concern! Her wellbeing is my priority.

I’m guessing you’re worried about another tortoise you’ve seen here.  We do see a lot of poor care or visible health issues on tumblr. we try not to share those pics unless there’s a reason. When we do, we don’t keep quiet. I promise. We definitely contact the owner and share proper care info. We always try to do it in a kind way, not assuming they’re neglect, as a lot of torts on here are rescues.  We have found, over the years, that starting a private conversation and sharing suggestions in the kindest way possible is the most impactful. If you start attacking someone, especially in public, telling them they’re abusers etc,  you’re far more likely to get blown off and ignored. That’s no good for the shell in question, which defeats the purpose of all this, right?  I’ve gotten good responses from folks that way and received messages with pics of new enclosures, torts eating new food, etc.

So, I’d guess I’ve messaged or communicated with the owner of that tort and expressed my concern. I’m also sure many of my awesome followers, like you!, have also commented/shared. Folks around here are very good about that. If you want to come off Anon and talk to me specifically I’d love to chat! Thanks for caring about our shell friends! it means a lot to me and to all the torts out there!


Meet Gamagorath! My boyfriend and i rescued him from an idiot who picked him up in the wild and wanted to keep him. Unfortunately, he had been in captivity for four months, without any sources of food besides green vegetables (I do know snappers need insects as well). I’m in over my head here… I don’t know what to do. I want to release him but he’s very small and I want to fatten him up but winter is coming… any advice you have would be of great help! Love your blog. We humbly request your guidance Zoya
PS his full name is Gamagorath eater of souls. He will be a great warrior of the turtpocalypse

Hello! Gamagorath and human friends!!! Thanks for messaging us! Zoya appreciates your kind words, she’s happy to know others see the greatness she sees when she looks in the mirror heeheee 

Wow you are one gorgeous little one aren’t you, Garmagorath! He is probably very thankful to be out of the hands of that kidnapper! Way to rescue him! Its so sad that people think they have the right to just snatch an animal from its habitat for their own amusement. Its simply not ok. Ever.   

So, my instinct is to get that little one back to his habitat. That’s my instinct, but we don’t have any real experience with snapping turtles and unfortunately can’t say for sure that its safe after 4 months in captivity. I would think that Garmagorath is young enough that he might be able to integrate just fine, but I’m hoping some of the turtle/ snapper experts here on reptiblr can give you some better advice! 

We do know that snapping turtle care is very detailed, not at all ‘easy’ (no turtle or tortoise care is really easy..), getting their diet and husbandry right is vital to their health and survival. Also? They grow pretty large and need to be handled appropriately (cause they’re snappers! snap those fingers look like noms!)  

Here is a care sheet from the Chicago Exotic Vet Hospital.  We can’t verify how great the info is here but we’ve heard good things about the hospitals work with turtles and torts so its the closest to a reputable care sheet I’m able to give you.

Again we’re not snapper experts (we do think they’re awesome but sadly heart eyes aren’t the expertise you need! ha). I’d say, if at all possible, return your new friend to the wild (he’ll tell all his snapper friends how awesome you and your boyfriend are and you’ll definitely be on the right side of the turtpocalypse!) Keep checking this post and hopefully some of the awesome folks with snapper experience will have better/ more detailed advice for you! 

How about it, reptiblr, anyone with snapper experience that can help Gamagorath and his human rescuers out??


Hey what’s up? alright so you know how when you scratch (gently) a tort’s shell and they do the little butt wiggle dance, why do they do this? is it just that it feels nice? is it a body language thing? what’s going on?

Hey Anon!

That’s a great question. You should know that, until recently, research on turtle and tortoise behavior has been lacking. From what I’ve read, and from my experience, It seems that that is a shell’s sweet spot. Dirt gets stuck around there, they can’t exactly scratch it, so it just feels sooooo nice! like scratching that spot on your back you can’t reach.  

basically this:

is a lot like



just FYI, box turtles are not tortoises. their closest relative is the wood turtle. they are true terrapins.

Hey Anon! 

Thanks so much for writing. You are absolutely right. I generally use quick tags in my posts and I realize it completely leaves out the terrapins! I’ve fixed that. 

We do use quick tags for posts we share for cute value, silly behavior, and other people’s comments. We try to identify the type of turtle, tortoise, or terrapin but sometimes we fail. Like our earlier post. We love getting messages from followers with more info so I’m very glad you wrote!

Here at torttime, despite the name, we share turtles and terrapins as well as tortoises. We tend to focus on tortoises some because the other half of our ‘staff’ is a Russian tortoise (Agrionemys horsfieldii… not actually Russian at all). The title for our blog was inspired by our friend who was taking the bar at the time and we thought it was funny to take back Torts for the shells haha! Our motto is “Turtles, Tortoises, and Terrapins 24/7″ so we haven’t forgotten. 

Thanks for reading and writing us! 


I hope you don’t mind me asking for a bit of advice! I’m researching the possibility of adopting a Russian tort but one big reservation I have is that I’d have to be away from home on weekends quite regularly. Do you think it’s ok to leave them (if you stock up on weeds and put light + heat on timer) or is it better to take them with you if you can? Is it better to hold off on getting one for a few years until I can spend more time at home on the weekends? Thanks in advance!

Hey! Thanks for the question. For the most part, being away for an overnight/ day or two should be ok. If your lighting is on a timer and you leave a good amount of food.

in the wild (which our torties are not) tortoises are solitary animals, they roam, the nom, they bask and they sleep. They don’t need too much help from us (or want to hang out with their shell siblings).

That said, captive torts aren’t the same as wild torts. They get used to people and things like being hand fed. Depending on the level of activity of your tortoise, alone time can be time for trouble making or concern for future noms arriving.

The overall goal is to make sure your tortie is as stress-free as possible. Usually, not traveling is the way to go. Even more important,  you have to be very sure your enclosure is safe and secure. I’m talking web cam when you’re outta the room cause… never underestimate trouble 😉

So, in general I’d say this is a fine arrangement but you never know till you meet your shell friend and figure out what they need too.

Hope this helps!


I saw your post about the tortoise that got thrown in the lake. It looked like a turtle to me, like the one on the left was a tortoise and the right was a turtle. If you go and look back at the photos the shells look similar in size but that’s about it. the one on the right seems like it has flippers, yet not the clearest image. Thoughts?

Thanks for the ask!  I totally see your point. Though I’m not sure about seeing flippers, it does look like the pic may have been doctored. That fact didn’t elude me when I first shared this. For those following the blog and/or tortoise news, the issue of people throwing gopher torties into the water “returning them to the sea” is something that had been happening before this picture started circulating on Facebook or tumblr. Several papers in FL, conservation blogs, had written about this concerning number of incidents of tortoises being put in the water. These were actual incidents reported by reputable sources.

This group of photos is probably someone’s joke, looking closely it looks more like the tort is coming out of the water? Maybe that’s my hopeful eyes ha.

What I think is important about sharing this, and adding the info the person I reblogged this from did, is that this is happening. Unfortunately, what I’ve learned from tumblr and much of the internetm is just what all the hate mail I’ve gotten has pointed out, ppl can’t take a joke. No I don’t think this is funny but more importantly I no longer trust folks to see something (even fake) like this and think “this is stupid” “what jerk would do this” “what assholes”. .

If any of the hate mail I’ve gotten from this post (and a previous Blake Shelton incident) has proven anything, it’s that we need to be reminded that this “joke” is someone else’s poorly played attempt at one that ends in the horrible loss of an incredible and endangered species. It’s not funny and it’s happening out of good and bad intentions.

So I’m not gonna assume the worst, I am gonna share appropriate info that others are sharing with these images and hope it doesn’t keep happening *for any reason at all*.

I hope that makes sense. I’m grateful for people like you that look critically at these things and don’t simply react one way or another. Unfortunately, you seem few and far between when push comes to shove (no pun intended yikes). In that vein, I’m not examining the picture for total accuracy, since we posted about this happening before pics were even involved. I’m assuming that, real of fake, this issue is becoming more of a problem. I’m just hoping that continuing to share stuff like this raises awareness and maybe makes someone think a little more before they make the wrong decision for good or bad reasons 😀


gave turtel a gentle algae scrub 

(the city gets its water from the manmade lake around here, which is a cesspool of dead fish and various pond scums, so the algae struggle is real here) 

advice if you too have Algae Shell:

  • it is not painful for the turt so don’t be afraid
  • get a sponge (not the loofah or scrubber variety, soft yellow dollar store kind), towel/face cloth you don’t mind getting hecka grungy, and/or a very soft-bristled toothbrush
  • get some water of a good mild temp
  • don’t stick ‘em directly in the bathtub because A) that might have soap/shampoo/hair dye/etc residue they will not care for B) they might get spooked and clang and clunk all over the place and it’s fun for nobody
  • remember that though it is hard, the shell is a tender living part of the creature you have sworn to watch o’er
  • if they have any scutes (shell plates) starting to come loose, be VERY VERY GENTLE. never ever rip a partially-lifted scute off.
  • scrub delicately and tenderly
  • if u scrub the butt part of the shell sometimes they might do a wiggly dance




I have a newfound dream of keeping a pet tortoise, but there’s so much research to do before that’s possible. This is the life I lead.

Yes! Do lots and lots of research and prep.. getting the set up right is work but completely worth it when you get a sly side eye from your little shell friend <3

Thanks for the encouragement, tort-time! I’m nowhere near done researching, and there’s so many different facets of information regarding general tortoise care before even considering specific species that it’s a bit overwhelming for a prospective first-timer like myself.

Makes me so happy to read this <3 you are gonna be the best shell human! Theres SO much to take in at first. I definitely feel you on how overwhelming it can be. When I got Ms. Zoya Pants, I was blown away by the amount of bad info out there and embarked on a bit of a crusade for quality information… its ongoing really. I have no doubt you’ll end up with a perfect match and many happy times will follow.

Depending on the level of depth you’re looking for, I highly recommend a book “Health care & Rehabilitation of Turtles and Tortoises” by Amanda Ebenhack. It’s a pretty intense book but has a ton of info from husbandry and diets to potential health issues and their treatment. It’s good to have around, IMHO, when questions come up and just in general. 

Good Luck! 


Hi there! Do you have any comments about getting a tort to actually eat hay? I’ve had my little guy for about a year now (He’s about 2yrs) and he refuses to touch hay or grass pellets. I keep these items in front of him just in case he decides today’s the DAY, but no luck. He eats greens and veggies readily, but I know they are supposed to have a drier diet than that (mostly). In that case- I’d like know what veggies are ok to feed him daily….. picky torts..

This is a great question. We battle with this too. One thing that helps me is grinding up the hay in a coffee grinder (not one you use for coffee!!) and then sprinkle it on the greens. if they’re a little wet (spritz them with water) it’ll stick. I’ll do this to some of the radicchio (her favorite… to a fault hah). This will sometimes work. I’ve read on some lists that Russian tortoises prefer orchard hay to timothy hay.. so I’m in the process of switching things up to see if I can get her to eat more. Unfortunately its a battle of wills. Sometimes you just have to do the parental thing and not give in to those cute faces by giving them the treats they like best (its hard and now I feel I have betrayed the turtpocalypse.. SORRY ZOYA PANTS!).

As far as diet goes I’d stick to the whats listed on that site I posted earlier. ( There are a lot of different greens you can try this with. Prickly pear cactus (the pads AND the fruit) is great for tortoises, though its hard to find. some specialty grocery stores have them (they are also known as Nopales). I’ve been able to find the fruit of the prickly pear plant in the produce section of my grocery store lately. It’s usually in the small section of ‘ exotic fruits’. They are oval shape and red if ripe (green if not). Heres a picture, The pads with the fruit on top:

I also allow Zoya to have some apple a couple times a year (the pectin in apples is good for torts but they still have lots of sugar so not often) and a bit of pumpkin on halloween, no more than that. Zoya had parasites when she was younger and even though she was treated (and her fecal exams have been clear every year since) I don’t want to risk giving her sugary foods. The thing to remember is that there is a small number of parasites living in the tortoise tummy. Sugar causes these parasites to “bloom” aka grow, reproduce, take over, and that’s when you get a problem.

Hope this helps! I know some people do fruit but its just too much risk for something that doesn’t do anything good for them. MHO.