Should I buy a pet store tortoise? | Tortoise Forum

Searching within Pet Stores for Tortoise Los Angeles, CA - Yelp
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A large shallow bowl of clean fresh chlorine-free water must always be available. It should be large and shallow enough for your tortoise to climb into. Place it on the cool side of your reptile’s enclosure. Change it daily, or as needed, as your pet will most likely bathe in it as well. All water given to reptiles for drinking, as well as water used for misting, soaking or bathing must be 100% free of chlorine and heavy metals. (Not all home water filtration systems remove 100% of the chlorine and heavy metals from tap water). We recommend that you use unflavored bottled drinking water or bottled natural spring water; never untreated tap water. If tap water is used, you should treat it with a de-chlorinating treatment. De-chlorinator is available in the pet store fish department. If you do not want to chemically de-chlorinate the water, you can leave an open container of tap water out for at least 24 hours. Do not use distilled water, which can cause severe medical problems, since it lacks minerals that are essential to important body functions. If only tap water can be used, at least de-chlorinate the water.
99% of the turtles and tortoises that you will find in pet stores will have a range from  to $1,000.
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JAMES BADMAN maintains an extensive tortoise collection with a focus on the larger tortoise species, as well as Pyxis and Testudo. He has worked at Arizona State University for 13 years, where he is the Assistant Director for the Department of Animal Care and Technologies. He also owns Wildside Pets, an exotic pet store in Mesa, Ariz., co-hosts the Phoenix Reptile Expo, and is an active board member of the Turtle and Tortoise Preservation Group (TTPG). Pigg went to visit the tortoise, paid for his immediate treatment and brought him home to the pet store where he has lived ever since.
Photo provided by FlickrLargo woman charged with retail theft in heist of rare tortoise from pet store. Tortoise located, returned to store.
Photo provided by Flickr99% of the turtles and tortoises that you will find in pet stores will have a range from  to $1,000.
Photo provided by Flickr
One of the most important choices you'll make when buying a Russian tortoise is "where can I buy a healthy one?" .
There are quite a few choices. Following are a few and the pros and cons of each. Followed by some advice on picking out a healthy tortoise.

Pet shops: The most common place to buy a Russian tortoise is at a pet shop. However, when choosing an animal from a pet shop the most important consideration is the pet shop itself. Many pet shops keep their exotic animals in deplorable conditions. But there are many fine shops with very caring employees and owners. These can be a wonderful source of supplies for animals as well as purchasing new pets. The best way to find a good pet shop is word-of-mouth. When you find what you think is a good store, pay close attention to what it's like when you first walk through the door. Does it smell clean? Does it look organized? Look at the fish tanks...are the fish healthy or are other dead fish floating around? Take a look the tortoises. Are different species housed together?

Further down I will go into more detail about finding that perfect Russian.

Reptile shows: Reptile shows are becoming increasingly popular across United States. Many cities have monthly shows. Reptile shows have many of the same problems as pet shops. Some of vendors are excellent and others have very little knowledge about their animals. Another drawback of the shows, is that many animals are housed in close quarters with other species. This can lead to cross contamination and health problems. However with careful selection and asking good questions you can often end up with a very healthy specimen.

The Internet:
The Internet can be broken down into three major categories.
1) individual sellers : On many of the lists you can find many individuals that have animals for sale. One place to look is in forums such as Kingsnake or Yahoo! group. When buying from the individual is important to get references. There are those who will sell you animals that are unhealthy and poor quality. Also there are others that will take your money and never send you the animal. It's always wise to purchase using your Visa card so that you can dispute the charges if problems occur.
2) online stores and breeders: There are many fine online stores. Once again is important to ask for references.
3) rescue groups: There are many rescue organizations that have abused or unwanted tortoises that need new homes this can actually be one of the best ways of obtaining an animal. However some animals can be "flawed" in appearance or have health problems. An excellent reptile rescue group is .

The biggest problem with ordering animals online is you can't pick them out personally. It is always wise to get an agreement up front on how it will be handled if the animal arrives in poor condition. Be sure to ask if there are any guarantees.

#1 Many pet stores obtain their stock from wild-caught turtles and tortoises from foreign suppliers. Countries such as China have nearly depleted many of their wild turtle populations. Wild caught turtles and tortoises from Africa and Asia must go through very inhumane treatment during storage and shipping. See these links for photos taken of abused turtles and tortoises forced into the highly unregulated pet trade: