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How Big Do Tortoises Get? [The Complete Size Guide]

Diving into the world of tortoises is both fascinating and full of surprises. Ever wondered just how expansive that adorable baby tortoise might become?

Or pondered over the time it takes for it to mature into its grand stature?

Whether you’re contemplating getting a shelled companion or simply curious about these ancient reptiles, this guide is tailored for you.

We’ll navigate through the intricacies of tortoise growth, shedding light on different species and their growth patterns.

By the end, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to make an informed choice on which species suits your space and expectations.

How Big Do Tortoises Get?

Tortoise sizes range from 8-10 inches (for smaller species) to 30 inches (for the largest of species). There are species around 7-11 inches, 12-14 inches and 10-18 inches that fall in between.

Factors That Influence A Tortoises Final Size


Different species have unique growth potentials.

While genetics set the basic framework, factors like evolutionary adaptation to specific environments and roles in their ecosystems contribute to the size variations among species.


Proper nutrition plays a vital role in determining the size a tortoise can reach.

A balanced diet that mimics their natural food sources ensures that tortoises receive essential nutrients to grow optimally.


The environment in which a tortoise lives can impact its growth.

Tortoises in cramped or unsuitable conditions might experience stunted growth.

Climate and Geography

Tortoises native to arid regions might develop differently compared to those from tropical or temperate zones.

The climate and geography of their habitat play a role in their metabolic rates and, consequently, their growth.


Just like other animals, tortoises can suffer from diseases that can affect their growth.

Regular check-ups and proper care can help in preventing such issues.


Tortoises are slow growers, and some species continue to grow throughout their life, although at a much slower rate after reaching maturity.

At What Age Is A Tortoise Full Grown?

Tortoises reach full growth between 10 to 20 years, depending on the species. However, some larger species continue to grow slowly throughout their lifespan, albeit at a reduced rate after reaching maturity.

At one end of the spectrum are the smaller tortoise species.

Russian tortoises, for instance, mature relatively quickly, often reaching full size by the age of 5 to 10 years.

Native to Central Asia, their smaller size is adaptive for the colder climates and terrains they inhabit.

On the other end are the giants of the tortoise world.

Sulcata tortoises, also known as African spurred tortoises, are a prime example. These magnificent creatures, which can weigh over 200 pounds and span up to 30 inches, take a longer time to mature, often not reaching full size until they’re 15 to 20 years old.

And even after reaching this age, they can continue to grow at a slower pace throughout their life.

How Big Are Tortoises When They’re Born?

Tortoises, when born, are typically small, with most species measuring between 1 to 2 inches in length, resembling tiny replicas of their adult counterparts. Their exact size varies depending on the species and the conditions of their birth.

What’s The Average Size For A Tortoise?

The average size of a tortoise varies by species, but many common pet tortoises range between 8 to 30 inches in length, with weights from 1 to 200 pounds.

Are Male Tortoises Bigger Than Female Tortoises?

In many tortoise species, females tend to be larger than males, especially in terms of shell length. However, size differences can vary by species, and some show minimal size disparity between genders. Always consider individual and species variations.

Tortoise Size By Species

SpeciesTypical HeightTypical LengthTypical WeightFull Adult Size Age
Hermann Tortoise5-7 inches7-11 inches2-5 pounds10-15 years
Leopard Tortoise10-12 inches10-18 inches30-40 pounds15-20 years
Red Foot Tortoise5-6 inches12-14 inches15-30 pounds10-15 years
Russian Tortoise6-8 inches8-10 inches1-2.5 pounds5-10 years
Sulcata Tortoise15-20 inches24-30 inches100-200 pounds15-20 years

Hermann Tortoise

The Hermann tortoise boasts a classic tortoise appearance with a slightly domed shell adorned with intricate patterns. Native to Europe, it’s characterized by its medium size and distinct yellow and brown markings on its shell.

  • Typical Height: 5-7 inches
  • Typical Length: 7-11 inches
  • Typical Weight: 2-5 pounds
  • Full Adult Size Age: 10-15 years

Leopard Tortoise

The Leopard tortoise is aptly named for its leopard-like spotted shell. Originating from Africa, its unique appearance sets it apart, with a shell that’s slightly raised in the middle.

  • Typical Height: 10-12 inches
  • Typical Length: 10-18 inches
  • Typical Weight: 30-40 pounds
  • Full Adult Size Age: 15-20 years

Red Foot Tortoise

Recognizable by its red-spotted head and legs, the Red Foot Tortoise is a vibrant species from South America. It has a dark shell highlighted with lighter patches, giving it a unique aesthetic.

  • Typical Height: 5-6 inches
  • Typical Length: 12-14 inches
  • Typical Weight: 15-30 pounds
  • Full Adult Size Age: 10-15 years

Russian Tortoise

The Russian tortoise, native to Central Asia, is a small yet hardy species. Its shell has a beautiful pattern of concentric circles, giving it a unique texture and appearance.

  • Typical Height: 6-8 inches
  • Typical Length: 8-10 inches
  • Typical Weight: 1-2.5 pounds
  • Full Adult Size Age: 5-10 years

Sulcata Tortoise

The Sulcata, or African spurred tortoise, is one of the largest tortoise species. Originating from the arid regions of Africa, it has a thick, robust shell and pronounced scales on its legs, indicative of its desert roots.

  • Typical Height: 15-20 inches
  • Typical Length: 24-30 inches
  • Typical Weight: 100-200 pounds
  • Full Adult Size Age: 15-20 years

Do Wild Tortoises Grow Bigger Than Pet Tortoises?

Wild tortoises often grow larger than pet tortoises due to natural diets, optimal environments, and more extensive roaming spaces. However, proper care can allow pet tortoises to reach similar sizes.