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Essential Books for Turtle and Tortoise Keepers

Updated on July 13, 2011

I have had to use the title Turtle and Tortoise because there is a lot of confusion surrounding the names.

Totoise is the familiar British name for a land dwelling Chelonian. The British use Turtle to describe those which live in water. Then there is the Terrapin...they live in water too, but fresh water. The Americans go about the names in a different way. They call some of the Chelonians 'Turtles' whether they are land or water based. Whatever, it is all in a name and here my choice of books is generalised.

I worry about tortoises and turtles. I have done since I was a child. My father, who was a merchant mariner told me of cargo ships on the North African coast. Upon unloading their goods they used living tortoises as ballast for their return to the UK. These were literally tipped into the hold. Any that survived this brutal treatment and the following passage were sold into the pet trade.

During the 1960's 70' 80's and 90's whilst working in UK zoos I saw many of these tortoises. Bought for just a few pennies fifty or more years before the owners would bring them to the zoo for retirement. The owners were now so old they were unsure they would last out another winter. The tortoises themselves, many in their eighties and up looked strong enough though.

It was not always the case. Each year we would get at least fifty requests for advice on tortoise care, often from people who had had them for many years.

People still love tortoises. They are uncomplicated in a complicated sort of way. They are popular in Thailand too were I have seen innumerable very rare Madagascan tortoises for sale in the infamous Jatujjak market. These are not cheap to buy...and totally illegal of course. I would just like to think that the purchasers would build up a good library on tortoise care as well.

As with other species it may be a good idea to take a look at the generalised list of books for Zoo Keepers as well.


Again, this is a  short personal list of books currently available on Amazon. You can purchase directly from here. Just click on the books listed above and it will you take you to further details on the book and the order form.

More Books

Can't Find What you want?

Then please visit The Zoo Professionals Book Store here you will find a lot more books on tortoises, turtles and terrapins.


Submit a Comment

  • Peter Dickinson profile image

    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    Thanks Ben

  • Ben Zoltak profile image

    Ben Zoltak 7 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

    Another well done article. My turtle/tortoise articles on Hubpages are some of my best if I may. What an experience to be in Malaysia! So many species! I worry about them too. Best of luck on your travels, kudos to you sir, for taking a grand adventure, despite the adversity in your life. Your travels are inspiring to me.