Pets come is all kinds of sizes, from tiny teacup puppies to the big playful Great Danes. Everyone knows that cats have varying sizes, and birds, too, but what of reptiles? Tortoises, just like many other animals, have a variety of sizes in the wild and captivity. Sometimes it’s health and environment that can affect the size, and sometimes it’s purely the breed dictating it.
What’s important is that you know what size you might expect from any tortoise. When you know the expected size at adulthood, you can plan accordingly to make sure your tortoise has enough room for healthy growth and a long life.
In this article, we will cover the size details of as many tortoise breeds as possible. Our goal is to give you a better idea of how big that baby tortoise will be before you bring him home!
From Small to Big, There’s a Tortoise for Every Home!
All tortoises start out as these tiny, cute little tanks. Many can easily fit in the palm of your hand. Eventually, though, they can grow to be hulking, heavy, lumbering creatures. This, of course, varies on the species of tortoise that you get, where it came from in the world, and its health as it grows.
There are lots of tortoises out there. The smallest tortoise we have found is the speckled padloper, for example. It’s also called the speckled cape tortoise. These little fellas grow to be 2.4 inches to 3.1 inches in size for the males and 3.9 inches for the females. Unfortunately, this tiny tortoise is endangered and not available as a pet. It is also unknown how to properly care for this species as most expire before we can learn anything.
While it’s always interesting to see the sizes of wild tortoises, we’d like to concentrate on pets in this article since that’s the main focus of this site.
As we go through our list of pet tortoise sizes, keep in mind that some tortoise species have several sub-species in their family. This can change the size or look of each individual. Poor husbandry and diet can also permanently stunt your tortoise’s growth or cause major health problems.
There’s also the aspect of feeding to consider. Depending on how much and how frequently you feed your tortoise, its growth rate will vary. Some tortoises just grow faster than others, and torts are just slowpokes in the growth department. That said, it is recommended that you do not power feed your tortoise to get it growing faster. Power feeding will cut down the life expectancy of the tortoise, regardless of species.
Pet Tortoise Sizes and Weights
Here is a quick look at the average sizes and weights of mature tortoises. You’ll notice that on average, the male tortoises always remain smaller than their female counterparts.
For the details, read on below the table!
|Egyptian Tortoises||4 – 5 inches||105 – 400 grams|
|Spider Tortoise||5 – 7 inches||200 – 400 grams|
|Greek Tortoise||6 – 7 inches||2 – 3 pounds|
|Russian Tortoise||8 – 10 inches||3 pounds|
|Hermann’s Tortoise||7.5 inches||7 – 9 pounds|
|Elongated Tortoise||12 inches||7 pounds|
|Indian Star Tortoise||7 – 10 inches||4.9 pounds|
|Marginated Tortoise||12 – 14 inches||9 – 11 pounds|
|Radiated Tortoise||16 inches||35 pounds|
|Red- & Yellow-Footed Tortoises||10 – 18 inches||20 – 24 pounds|
|Leopard Tortoise||10 – 18 inches||44 pounds|
|Burmese Mountain Tortoise||2 feet||100 pounds|
|Sulcata Tortoise||3 – 4 feet||80 – 100 pounds|
|Aldabra Tortoise||3 – 4 feet||350 – 550 pounds|
Let’s look at some detail for these tortoises’ weights and sizes. Look below for the species you are interested in. It should give you a pretty good idea how big your tortoise could get, which can help you plan for their long and healthy future with you.
While certainly not the smallest tortoise out there, this tortoise is one of the smallest that you can get as a pet. These sweet little torts have beautiful colors as well. Just be sure to follow proper legal documentation of this tortoise as it is highly endangered and illegal to export from the wild.
The Egyptian tortoise male can get to be four inches long and 105 grams. The female Egyptian tortoise will get around five inches in length and 400 grams. There is some variation here, of course, but these sizes should give you a pretty good idea how small these little guys are.
Mature size and weight are important, but since tortoises grow slow, you can usually get away with a smaller enclosure for the first few years of life. Hatchlings of this particular species will be roughly the size of a dime fresh out of the egg. Due to this tortoise’s tiny size, it is quite delicate. Sorry, newbies. The Egyptian tortoise should only be kept by an experienced reptile keeper to ensure its safety and long life.
The good news is that you can work your way up to this level and treat yourself to a pet Egyptian tortoise when you’ve mastered their care!
Small and critically endangered, the spider tortoise is another tortoise that would be very hard to acquire. Not only are they tough to get legally, they are quite expensive to purchase. You would need to get a license from your government allowing you to purchase and keep such an animal. But since they can be purchased as a pet, they’re on this list for those true tortoise aficionados.
The spider tortoise is a small and stunning-looking tort. They come usually with a dark brown or black shell and vibrant yellow webbed markings. Those brilliant web patterns are how the spider tortoise got its name, of course. This species is native to Madagascar and one of four of the smaller species that inhabits that area.
Hatching at roughly a few centimeters in size, they are about the size of a quarter. The females grow to be 5 to 7 inches and the males can reach about 4.5 inches.
Definitely one of the more interesting-looking tortoises, the pancake tortoise sports a crazy flat body and shell that is flexible instead of strong and stiff. This tortoise is pretty active, which makes it truly fun to watch. The pancake tortoise is an amazing climber, if you can believe it. These agile torts can wedge themselves into the smallest cracks. This adaptation evolved to help escape predators in the wild.
This tortoise will hatch from a tiny egg and is about the size of a one pence piece. Both male and females grow to be six to seven inches long and one and a half inches thick. Don’t let the small size fool you. These little guys can really book it around an enclosure, fit into tiny spaces, and even climb the strangest things.
Due to this tortoise’s active nature and knack for climbing their enclosure walls and furnishings, creating a safe habitat may be a bit pricier. The upside to the pancake tortoise is that it’s great for many people interested in reptiles that are just as unique as them.
A common and popular tortoise for newer tortoise keepers and more experienced ones, the Greek tortoise is no more than one inch at hatching. They can grow six to seven inches, however. The males tend to be smaller than the females. These popular torts can weigh between two to three pounds.
This tortoise has a fantastic temperament most of the time and is fairly easy to care for, as far as tortoise care goes. Their small size and sweet natures make them a fan favorite.
The Russian tortoise is a wonderful and easy to find tortoise in the pet trade. They make fantastic pets for new and experienced reptile keepers alike. One of the best aspects of the Russian tort is their relaxed and friendly temperament.
Hatchlings are around one inch in length. They can grow to be eight to ten inches long. Many Russian tortoises weigh in around three pounds at full adult size. Males will be on the smaller side, a difference of one to two and a half inches, and females on the larger side.
The Hermann’s tortoise is a common and well-loved species for newer tortoise owners. With a lovely disposition and simple care needs, the Hermann’s tortoise is a fantastic little tort for just about anyone.
They hatch to be roughly an inch long, like many other species. They are slow and steady growers up to around 7.5 inches at full adult size. This is one tortoise type that has sub-species with varying sizes, so make sure you know which one you’re getting.
The western species of the Hermann’s tortoise can reach up to 6 inches at full size, though many people have reported their eastern Hermann’s torts reaching larger sizes around eleven inches. Females of the Hermann’s tortoise species can be about twelve percent bigger than the males.
The Hermann’s tortoise should weigh roughly seven to nine pounds, however this may vary.
This is another interesting tortoise species for a variety of reasons. Often called the yellow tortoise, the elongated tortoise grows from a one to two-inch hatchling to be twelve inches in length. They can be seven pounds in weight. The females are a bit wider and more round-looking than the males, which helps set them apart.
The babies of this tortoise species are actually quite varied in pattern and color, making them fun to watch hatch. The adults do well in slightly cooler environments as they originate in heavily wooded areas. The elongated tortoise is a fantastic species for many people, especially those in colder climates and can house an adult around a foot long.
Indian Star Tortoise
This tortoise is stunning in every sense of the word. Usually sporting a dark shell with vibrant yellow patterns and mottled skin, they are a striking addition to any tortoise collection. There are three known geographical variations of the star tortoise, with the northern India and Pakistan variants being larger and darker than the others.
The two major tortoises are the Sri Lankan and Indian stars; however, the only real difference is in their size. Generally, the Sri Lankan star tortoise will reach ten inches for the females and seven inches for males. On the other hand, the Indian star tortoise will be around two inches shorter. Females average at eight inches and males at five inches.
The Indian star tortoise averages at about 4.9 pounds when fully grown, which is a fairly robust tort. The babies hatch to be roughly an inch or so, reaching maturity after a scant five years. The largest recorded star tortoise was about fifteen inches long, though a size that large does not seem to be very common, depending on the variant you have.
The Marginated tortoise is gorgeous and hardy, making it a good pet choice for more experienced people and a first tortoise too. As long as you have met all their requirements and can handle a slightly bigger tortoise, these tanky friends might be a good match for you.
The hatchlings are roughly one to two inches in size and can grow to be fourteen inches in length. That’s a bit bigger than some of the torts we’ve mentioned already, but their weight shouldn’t be a deterrent. They can get about eleven pounds at maturity, and the males are a little smaller by one or two inches typically.
To put that into perspective, they weigh about as much as a large sack of potatoes. That makes them hefty and fun to care for without being too big for most adults to handle.
This tortoise originates in Madagascar, sporting a dark muddy color with golden yellow patterns on its domed shell. Don’t let that “muddy” description scare you away; this tortoise is gorgeous in its own way.
The radiated tortoise hatches at 1.25 inches to 1.6 inches, reaching an adult size of sixteen inches. It may not sound really large, but you must keep in mind these fellas can reach a whopping thirty-five pounds.
This tortoise is critically endangered, so it may be hard to find one in the pet trade. You will likely need to purchase a license, and as always, be sure you’re buying from a reputable reptile breeder.
Here is some footage of Radiated Tortoises from the Gladys Porter Zoo:
Red-footed and Yellow-footed Tortoise
If you’re looking for beautiful colors in a moderately-sized tort, consider the red-footed or yellow-footed tortoise. These little sweethearts are a fantastic addition to many tortoise collections, and they boast a rather great personality to go with those looks too.
There are minor differences between them but to the trained eye you should be able to tell. The major differences of these torts are their localities and slight color and scale variation. Otherwise, their growth and needs are very similar; they are technically the same species after all.
The red-footed tortoise hatches at about an inch and a half to two inches, and they reach their full adult size at ten to eighteen inches. They’ll be roughly twenty-four pounds, making them a great medium-sized tortoise. Yellow-footed tortoises will be similar in size and build.
This tortoise has attractive markings and colors, making it a rather popular choice of medium to large tortoises in the pet trade.
These tortoises are roughly one to two inches in length upon hatching. They may quickly grow to full adult size, or near-adult size, within months to a year, provided the proper care is given. Their fast growth and maturation is one of the selling points for this breed, as people can be a bit impatient for the slow-growing breeds to reach full maturity.
Depending on the locality of your leopard tortoise, its adult size will vary. Ten to eighteen inches seems to be a fairly standard size, but the Stigmachelys Paradalis Paradalis may reach twenty-four inches in size.
Bigger still is the giants of Ethiopia and Somalia, reaching thirty inches. That’s a lot of tort!
A typical, full adult weight for the standard-sized leopard tortoise would be around forty-four pounds and the larger variants around eighty-eight pounds. You better be ready for this big fella if you’d like to raise your own leopard tortoise!
Here are some of the cutest hatchlings having a bath! Video courtesy of the Auckland Zoo.
Burmese Mountain Tortoise
The fourth largest tortoise in the world, the Burmese mountain tortoise has a lot of other common names. They go by the Asian brown tortoise, Asian forest tortoise, Burmese black tortoise, and the Burmese brown tortoise. That’s a lot of names, but it’s all just one breed.
There is another peculiar name this tortoise goes by, the six-legged tortoise. Don’t panic though; they don’t actually have two extra legs to worry about. The name comes from the fact that some adults have protruding scales on their hind legs. The Burmese mountain tortoise looks similar to the gopher tortoise and huge sulcata tortoises, just a much darker color and pattern.
No bigger than a baseball after hatching, this tortoise can grow to be a hundred pounds and two feet long. Definitely not something you should purchase if you can’t house a large tortoise, so make sure you do your research on housing needs for something this large.
The world’s third largest tortoise and possibly one of the most popular large tortoises you can get as a pet, the sulcata tortoise is an absolute darling. These are the big guys you can find in videos all over the internet getting their heads pet and necks scratched. They are absolute darlings.
Oftentimes, people will buy one of the one and a half to two-inch long babies not realizing that it is a sulcata. Within five to ten years they have a huge tortoise tank ripping up their house and yard. Like all tortoises, their growth rate varies between individuals. However, it generally takes five to ten years for them to become fully grown, or at least pretty close to it.
The sulcata tortoise can reach two and a half feet in length and eighty to a hundred and ten pounds. These behemoth tortoises can live a long time, too. That means if you don’t have the space, time, or knowledge to take care of a huge shell puppy for the rest of your life, you should probably skip this breed.
This is a big tortoise, and you may have to purchase a permit and license to own and keep one. Yet, the babies are out there and available as captive-bred if you’re up for the challenge.
Hatching at 2.4 inches and weighing in at eighty grams, these cute little babies will grow up into a truly massive tortoise. You’ll be looking at four feet of friendly tort and five hundred and fifty pounds for the males. The females top that at three feet and three hundred and fifty pounds.
Although lacking in any pretty patterns like many smaller tortoises, the aldabra comes in shades of dark brown, gray, and black, which have a beauty all their own.
There are lots of tortoises to choose from in the world, some of which that would be perfectly happy in apartment life. Others will need more effort on your part and much, much more space. As long as you understand the adult weight and size of the breed you’re interested in, you can prepare your home, family, and life for welcoming a new shell puppy, tank buddy, or sweet tort friend. Whatever playful name you call them, tortoises are awesome pets and come in the perfect size for you.