Tortoise Habitats in the UK
By Jane Williams BSc PGCE MA DipCABC MSc
Captive tortoises in the UK need access to both indoor and outdoor accommodation during a typical British year (even if they hibernate for 6-8 weeks in the winter). As tortoises are ectotherms, they cannot generate their own body heat – they have to absorb it from the environment. Most tortoises require basking temperatures of at least 30ºC and minimum overnight temperatures of around 15 ºC – an unlikely range in Britain even in the summer.
This should be taken into account when making decisions as a responsible owner as to whether any tortoise should be left outside overnight. In addition, concerns such as security from theft or damage by wildlife such as foxes, should be taken into account and as a general rule tortoise should be inside secure accommodation which keeps them above 15 ºC
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