Six smallest tortoise species – A detailed Discussion

Looking for a pet? What is better than a small tortoise that is both handy and cute. While smallest tortoises species come in a wide variety of different sizes and shapes, you don’t want to confuse a small tortoise with a turtle as both belong to the family Testudinidae. For finding out mind-blowing differences between the two, click here.

While large tortoise such as the Galapagos species can grow to become as much as 6ft long, our prime focus today is on the smallest tortoise species that are a lot easier to keep as pets and to care for. In addition, you can easily keep them indoors. Because they occupy less space, you can specify any corner of your house for them. Some of the tortoises that stay small include Kleinmann’s (Egyptian) tortoise, Greek tortoise, Russian tortoise, Indian Star tortoise, Pancake tortoise, and Hermann’s tortoise. Stay tuned for more information about the smallest breeds of tortoise so that you can know your species before making any big decision to purchase a tortoise. This article will help you to know all about the smallest tortoise breed and which one works best for you.

Kleinmann’s (Egyptian) Tortoise

This cute little tortoise belongs to the family Testudinidae and is also known as Leith’s tortoise. When the Egyptian tortoise reaches its adult size, it is no more than four to five inches big, making it one of the smallest tortoises in the world. When going for this tiny little creature, your experience level should be expert. That’s because the Egyptian tortoise requires UVB lighting and lives at an ambient temperature of 85°H/65°L. While this small tortoise food includes leafy green vegetables, you need to be extra cautious about its basking spot temperature, which is 90°F.

You may think that you can easily get your hands on this exotic species, the wild population of this smallest tortoise is near extinction. The Kleinmann’s tortoise is critically threatened. One of the reasons for such endangerment of this species is the low reproduction rate by the gravid female, which lays only 1 or 2 eggs per clutch. You might be surprised to know, but the only legal way to get yourself a Kleinmann’s tortoise is through a specialized breeder in your country. The average price range for this small tortoise species is $1000 – $1300.

If you are planning on keeping the Egyptian tortoise as a pet, make sure you provide it with a two cubic ft. table that has inbuilt heating and UVB lighting system. These cute tiny creatures have a narrow comfort zone and are not so easy to keep as your beloved pet.

Greek Tortoise

If you are looking for a pet tortoise that will probably live long enough to be your life-long partner, trust me, the Greek tortoise is no way going to die before you! This small species of tortoise has an average life span of 125 years and an adult size of only five to eight inches. The Greek tortoise has many subspecies such as Ibera Greek tortoise, North African Greek tortoise, “Golden” Greek tortoise, Libyan Greek tortoise Tunisian Greek tortoise.

Whatever subspecies you plan on getting, all the Greek tortoises have a high dome and a thick bridge that connects them to their plastron. In addition, you might want to provide them with a lot of love and care. The ambient temperature for the Greek tortoise is 85°H/75°L and a basking spot temperature of 95 – 100°F. This small tortoise food includes dried herbs and weed such as dandelion, thistle, hawksbill, wild strawberry cat’s ear, and clover.

Fun fact: Their name is derived from the fact that the flecks and spots on their shells suggest Greek patterns and mosaics.

This small tortoise breed is also known by the names of Spur-thighed tortoise and Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoise. They are easily available at pet stores with an average price range of $200 – $400. It is best to keep them in a tortoise table on a fenced cage with UVB lighting and optimum temperatures.

For more information on Greek tortoise, click here.

Hermann’s Tortoise

One of the smallest tortoises that you can easily keep as a pet even if you don’t have any expertise with Testudinidae.  The Hermann’s tortoise is a tiny Mediterranean tortoise that loves to run and move around with its small yet strong legs.  It has beautiful and captivating yellow and brown carapace and is quite active when compared to other small species of tortoises. 

The subspecies include the western and the eastern Hermann’s tortoise and have a lifespan of 50 years. It is the easiest available smallest tortoise for sale with an average price range of almost $20 – $40. With Hermann’s tortoise, you may want to take extra care when keeping males and females together. That’s because their males though only 5-8 inches long, like to stay alone and are quite hostile towards females.

Fun fact: A Hermann’s tortoise has an excellent all-around vision. They are also well-known for their great sense of smell.

The Hermann’s tortoise is sure to require extra attention from you as they must be kept hydrated. So, you must keep an inch of water in their water trays at all times. In addition to this, you need to soak them in lukewarm water for fifteen minutes every other day.

Don’t forget to build an escape-proof cage with UVB lighting for these active creatures that measure 16ft in length and 10ft in width. The small tortoise food includes weeds and greens so you should house them outside.

Indian Star tortoise

Indian star tortoise, also known as star tortoise, derives its name from the fact that this small tortoise species have bold golden and yellow stared patterns on its high domed shell. Its average adult size is five to fifteen inches. Moreover, they are sure to live up to 80 years of age. In addition, they are most commonly found in moist forests, lowlands, and grasslands of Sri-lanka, Pakistan, and India.

smallest tortoise species

Fun Fact: These small tortoises are threatened due to their illegal trade. The eye-catching patterns on their shells make them excellent exotic pets.

This small tortoise breed is best housed outdoors, and they require optimum temperatures to survive. You can easily house them in a tortoise table with UVB lighting along with a basking spot. They require a diet that has high calcium and fiber content such as grass, red leaf lettuce, bell peppers, and opuntia cactus. In addition, unlike Hermann’s tortoise, you can house male and female together without the fear of male harassing the female. These cute small tortoises will become your best friends forever and are fairly inexpensive and beautiful to look at. You can easily care for them, and choosing them will not make you regret your decision.

Russian Tortoise

How adorable this small tortoise looks while eating a strawberry. And you know what’s even cuter? Their small size. Russian tortoise’s average adult size is only 6-8 inches. You can easily buy them for 200$-300$ even if you have no previous experience with them.

smallest tortoise species

This small tortoise breed is a popular choice among pet enthusiasts. That’s because they require small areas, are easy to keep and provide for, and are extremely cute. They are also docile in nature, which means they are great for your kids and infants. Moreover, with these small tortoises, you don’t have to worry about providing them with optimum temperature all the time. That’s because Russian tortoises are well-known for their heat tolerance. They can survive in extreme weather conditions and you can easily house then outdoors. Their active and friendly nature makes them great pets for your family.

Besides being delightful and adorable, these small tortoises are also enthusiastic eaters. You can feed them almost any vegetable, and they will be happy about it. Some of their favorite foods include thistle, turnip greens, broadleaf, strawberries, and even kale. I mean, who even likes kale? Maybe that is the secret to their longevity and good health!

If you live in places where the temperature gets very low, make sure you provide them their very own tortoise table with UVB lighting. The size of the enclosure must be 4ft by 2 ft. Also, set the walls above the ground to prevent them from escaping, as Russian tortoises are excellent at burrowing.

Just like any other tortoise, these babies hate to be handled. Don’t let your kids pick them up as they are very fragile and can easily injure if dropped. Handle them only when necessary. You don’t want to offend these small tortoises.

Pancake Tortoise

If you are a pancake lover, you might want to give this small tortoise a thought . They derive their name from the fact that their shell is flat, just like a pancake. In fact, the Pancake tortoise reaches just an inch in height and only about six or seven inches in length. These babies are very lightweight are easy to keep and provide for. In addition to this, they have a unique appearance with the scutes patterned with radiating lines.

smallest tortoise species

Fun fact: Pancake tortoises are excellent runners. If they feel they are being threatened, they are most likely to run in fear.

If you plan to keep this tiny little creature as a pet, make sure you provide them with a warm enclosure with UVB lighting since they can not hibernate. Alternatively, Pancake tortoises are very efficient climbers and are the only small tortoise breed that can run. Those tiny little legs running for their life, so adorable!

You can feed these small tortoises with a wide variety of leafy greens and vegetables such as Bermuda, or alfalfa grasses, greens including mustard, hibiscus leaves, carrots, and many more. For keeping these babies healthy, supplement their diet with nutrients such as calcium and vitamins.


From plenty of tortoise species, we have brought to you some of our favorites that are sure to keep you entertained with their overloaded cuteness. Small tortoises are adorable and easy to keep as pets. You don’t need to take a lot of care of them, yet they will give you love and attractiveness. Plus, you don’t need to worry about constructing a large house for these small tortoises. All you need to do is to provide them with UV exposure, humidity, and optimum temperature. Though captive breeds are expensive, yet they are the way to go to protect wild small tortoise species. If you ever decide to get one, you need to consider the weather conditions in your locality, space you have to offer, the cost that you can pay as well as the legal issues in your country involved in keeping the particular small tortoise breed.

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