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The Marginated tortoise is an easy species to keep being adaptable and hardy. When they are babies we keep ours in an indoor table top setup. However, they can be given time outdoors in a secure run protected from predators. Outside our adults are housed with an indoor section (similar to a rabbit hutch) with the facility for a basking heat lamp when the British summer weather is not warm. From this they can access a grazing area of grasses and weeds such as dandelions, plantains and clover, also with areas of shade provided by taller plants.


Here in the UK the weather is wetter and cooler than that of the Mediterranean and therefore an area for warming up/basking should be provided. A uva/b heat lamp replicates the warmth of the sunshine and the tortoise will wake and position itself under the lamp as it brings its body temperature to a level where it is ready to digest food. This is called basking and on warm summer days the tortoise uses natural sunlight for this. Once warm the tortoise begins to look for food, as it warms up, its appetite increases. Once fed, the tortoise will usually rest. It will repeat these activities a number of times before settling for the night, usually in a corner or by digging down a little. The lamp can be used with a timer to come on and off at set times and enable the tortoise to mimic natural behaviour.

On warm summer days, with hatchlings we sometimes transfer them to an outdoor pen with some shade on the lawn for the rest of the day. A rabbit type run is ideal with mesh on the base to prevent escape/predators although it is better to have wooden sides as if the tortoise can see out, they will want to get out. Once the tortoise is of a size where predators such as crows cannot take them, they will only need a simple barrier/fence approx 18 inches high to section off that part of the garden if it is not enclosed. An opening into a shed or greenhouse is even better, where the conditions will be warmer on cooler days.


For hatchlings a simple indoor tortoise table is perfect. When building a tortoise table it is important to bear in mind what a tortoise would have in the wild:

  • Tortoises roam so allow them the maximum floor space you can accommodate, using rocks and logs as obstacles provides a good way to help keep your tortoise with an active body and mind, as they try to navigate around them like they would in the wild.

  • Provide a small shelter such as a flower pot to allow the tortoise to hide in.


Check the fence around your garden to ensure there are no gaps in which a tortoise can go under, tortoises are good diggers and given the opportunity will soon escape beneath it, to help prevent this sink your fence or wire 6 inches below the ground or tap slate down the side of your existing fence, or build a pen area which has sides embedded in the soil.

  • Ensure your tortoise cannot reach large bodies of water such as ponds, pools, water features or any amount of water over a half an inch deep - even less for juveniles (tortoises are not swimmers!)

  • For a small tortoise its best to pen them off into their own area, trying to find a two inch tortoise in just a small garden is no easy task!

  • Make sure there are no predators that can come into your garden such as cats, dogs, foxes etc and if so provide chicken wire or similar over the pen.

  • Check you don't have any plants which are poisonous to tortoises in your garden that the tortoise could reach or leaves from which could fall in the pen. Although tortoises are very intelligent and therefore rarely eat poisonous plants.

You are now all set to home your new tortoise/s, have fun building their new pad…



All you need to get started

Buy our table top setups:

Set up without a lamp:

Small (21x14 inches)

Large(21x28 inches) 

Set up with a lamp:



Starter Kit Details:

We have been asked if we can supply table top setup housing for the tortoise babies and so we have put together a simple starter package that passes on the savings we have achieved by buying in bulk and gives you all you need - the ongoing costs are minimal in that they live on garden weeds!  Details are as follows:

We have negotiated a good price for the 100w PowerSun UV heat lamp, lamp holder and lamp reflector which in total would sell at a retail price of approximately £80.00 - the lamp alone is normally sold for approximately £60-75!  We have also designed a practical table top set up.

We would like you to benefit from these discounts and so have put together an inclusive price for our set up with or without a lamp to include the enclosure, dishes, ceramic lamp holder, lamp reflector, wire, plug, bracket pole, bracket hook, nuts & bolts and hemp chippings - all put together and ready to take away and plug in!


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