Quick and easy ways to save money as a tortoise owner


The latest article in ExoticDirect’s budget series focusses on tortoises and how owners can save money whilst still providing top level care for their pets.

Animal Rescue charities are reporting record numbers of owners having to give their pets up for adoption.

With rising energy and food bills, the cost of living crisis is affecting us all.

Owning a tortoise is often a life-long commitment for many, due to the life expectancy of most tortoise breeds. Did you know the Hermann’s tortoise average life expectancy is up to 90 years in human care?

This article explores how Tortoise owners can seek to save money on their pet care costs, without cutting corners and putting their pet’s health at risk.


A number of tortoise breeds require a Heat Lamp and UV light. This is not an area you should ever seek to cut costs on as these items are vital for your pet’s health. Our Tortoise Set Up Guide has all you’ll need to know about what your tortoise needs.

If you’re ever unsure on lighting, we advise consulting with your vet.

Let’s jump into ways tortoise owners can save money…

Pick weeds

Let’s be honest, nobody likes weeds in their garden…unless you’re a reptile owner!

Common garden weeds such as dandelions are a favourite amongst many tortoises. What’s even better is that they’re something most gardens get at one point or another.

Dandelions can be safely included as part of your Tortoise’s Diet, and can be fed 2-3 times a week.

If your garden is weed free, don’t be afraid to ask neighbours, friends or family for their dandelions – you’re probably doing them a favour!

When picking dandelions, you need to ensure no chemicals such as weed killer or pesticides have been used in the area you’re picking from.

Additionally, ensure you don’t pick from an area where other family pets use the toilet.

Dandelions can easily be specifically grown and if you’re looking at doing this, it’s probably worth dedicating a section of your garden to weeds for your tortoise.

Please note, all plants, weeds, fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before feeding to your tortoise.

Dandelions are an easily accessible weed, safe for tortoises.

Insurance for your tortoise

Given the long life expectancy of tortoises, it’s likely they’ll need veterinary care at some point in their lives.

We all know vet fees don’t come cheap which is why Tortoise Insurance can be a good way to cover unexpected vet bills.

It’s worth noting that as with any type of insurance, exotic pet insurance comes with Terms and Conditions which you should read carefully before taking out a policy.

Reusable bedding

Tortoise owners have a variety of options when it comes to substrate.

As mentioned in our tortoise set up guide, providing you spot clean their home, tortoises don’t require frequent substrate changes.

This in itself, means they’re often cheaper to provide bedding for vs other exotic pets who require cleaning multiple times a week.

When it does come to changing substrate though, many experts argue that substrates such as mulch, sphagnum moss and wood chips can be reused.

It’s advised to thoroughly spot clean and ensure any heavily soiled areas as well as poops are removed, submerge the substrate into boiling water and then let it dry.

During this time, you may wish to allow your tort some grazing time outside, providing they’re in a secure enclosure and can’t access anything poisonous such as plants or any areas chemicals may have been used in your garden.

If you’re ever unsure or require further advise, please consult with your vet.

You may wish to switch out your tortoise’s usual bedding for a reusable alternative.

Wonky fruit and veg

If you have a species of tortoise who requires fruit and/or vegetables as part of their diet, keep reading

Ever seen wonky fruit and vegetables in your local supermarket?

More readily available than ever, wonky fruit and vegetables are usually cheaper than alternatives and if you ask us, they don’t taste any different!

It’s worth comparing prices in your local supermarket or green grocer to see what works out cheaper. That in itself can be an easy way to save money.

Further to this, if you’re buying fruits and vegetables only your tortoise will eat, you’ll most likely want to shop somewhere that allows you to buy loose items rather than committing to a full pack of your tort’s chosen fruit or vegetable.

Seasonal fruit and veg

Another great way to save money whilst feeding your tort is by buying seasonal fruit and vegetables if they’re a species who requires fruit and vegetables.

Often, foods such as raspberries or bell peppers have a higher cost if you’re purchasing them out of season.

By feeding your tort fruits and vegetables which are in season, you’ll ensure you don’t pay over the odds for them.

The added benefit here is that you’ll be able to provide your tortoise an extra varied diet, dependant on the season.

Don’t buy fruits and vegetables you don’t like.

As mentioned both in this article, and in our Tortoise Diet Guide, some breeds require fruit and vegetables as part of their diet, in moderation.

Some farm shops and green grocers may sell fruits and vegetables such as blueberries in small quantities for your tortoise.

However, if you’re buying from supermarkets, most only sell in punnets therefore to reduce waste and ensure you’re getting your moneys worth, it’s wise to buy tortoise friendly fruits and vegetables you also enjoy.

You’ll only be feeding your tort small portions of fruit and vegetables therefore you won’t feel like you’re missing out on too many of your own fruits and vegetables.

Ensure you’re purchasing fruit and vegetables both you and your tortoise will enjoy

Second hand

A useful tip for new tortoise owners, as well as existing owners seeking to upgrade their tortoise’s home!

As previously mentioned, you should not seek to save money on key items such as heating and lighting therefore we advise against sourcing these items second hand.

However, sourcing items such as tortoise tables, vivarium’s, or accessories second hand is a great way to save money.

You’ll likely be able to get these items from other tortoise owners, through forums, Facebook Groups or Facebook Marketplace.

We advise you exercise caution when purchasing second hand, especially through the routes mentioned. Check out buying and selling guidelines such as Facebook’s guidelines to help you stay safe whilst buying items.

Pay attention to storage guidelines and use by dates.

Ever gone to grab some raspberries and found they had gone off? Ensuring you’re correctly storing fruits, plants and vegetables for your tortoise will ensure they stay fresh for longer.

Use-by dates are also worth paying attention to, however, some UK supermarkets are phasing these out for some fruits and vegetables.

It’s worth researching the best way to store different fruits, vegetables and plants. Some will need to be refrigerated whereas others won’t.

Some may need a cool, dry, dark place such as a cupboard whereas fruits such as tomatoes will benefit from some time on your windowsill in the sun to help them ripen.

One resounding guideline amongst most fruits and vegetables is to not cut them until you’re going to use them!

Fruit and vegetables which have been cut way ahead of using them are likely to spoil quicker. Additionally, they’ll lose their nutritional value.

This is especially true for fruits such as apples which will brown and won’t be very pleasant to eat, nor will they provide as many nutrients.

If you’re ever unsure of the best way to store your fruits and vegetables, a quick Google search should provide you with the answer.

Tortoises make great life long pets and companions for many and we certainly understand why.

We hope the above has provided you with some quick and easy ways to save money as a tortoise owner. If you ever have questions or concerns regarding your tortoise, it’s always worth consulting with a vet to ensure you’re providing them with the best possible care.

Own a cat or dog? Get pet insurance that covers up to £12,000 for dogs and £9,000 for cats in vet fees every year, including dental for illness and accidents with British Pet Insurance.

Rachael Smedley
19 Oct 2022

More News