Tortoises reach their full size in 1-10 years, with 5 years being the average timeframe. The fastest-growing tortoise, the leopard tortoise, requires just 1 year to completely grow. If that doesn’t sound incredible, remember that tortoises start life as hatchlings and are no more than a few inches long.
The sulcata is the largest pet tortoise species, reaching 2-2 ½ feet and up to 100 pounds. The Horsefield and Russian tortoise range from 5-10 inches and 1.1 to 3 pounds. Hermann’s tortoise can reach 7 ½ inches and 7-8 pounds. Testudo species (Greek and spur-thighed) can reach 10-12 inches and 12-13 pounds.
Keep in mind that males are normally smaller than females. The maximum size of your tortoise varies based on how well it’s cared for. A tortoise with space, quality food, and optimal temperatures will usually grow larger.
Tortoise Size and Weight
The massive Galapagos tortoise can be over 4 feet long and weigh 660 pounds. Meanwhile, the tiny Egyptian tortoise can be 3 inches long and weigh 5 ounces.
Not all come as pets, and many live very different lives because of their size. According to Biological Sciences, giant tortoises tend to be more sedentary because of their weight and size, while smaller ones tend to be mobile and active.
The table below has information on pet tortoise species’ average size and weight at maturity. According to the Journal of Zoology, on average, male tortoises remain smaller than their female counterparts.
Tortoise TypeAverage SizeAverage WeightSulcata Tortoises3–4 feet80–100 poundsHorsefield Tortoises5–8 inches1.1 poundRussian Tortoises8–10 inches3 poundsRed Foot Tortoises10–18 inches20–24 poundsHermann’s Tortoises7.5 inches7–8 poundsLeopard Tortoises10–18 inches44 poundsTestudo Tortoises10–12 inches12-13 poundsDesert Tortoises12–14 inches8–15 pounds
How Big Do Sulcata Tortoises Get?
After the Aldabra and Galapagos tortoise, the sulcata is the world’s 3rd largest tortoise in the world. However, many first-time owners buy tiny, 1 ½ to 2 inch-long baby tortoises, not realizing that it is a sulcata until it grows into a mighty tortoise 5-10 years later.
On average, sulcata tortoises grow to be 2 ½ feet in length at maturity. It can weigh in at 80-100 pounds.
While a tortoise’s growth rate differs from one individual to the next, most sulcatas take about 5-10 years to reach their maximum size and weight.
How Big Do Horsefield Tortoises Get?
Horsefield tortoises are small tortoises, making them relatively easy to take care of. Horsefield tortoise males grow up to be 5-8 inches in size, while their female counterparts reach about 6-10 inches at maturity. Their hatchlings are relatively small, at around 1 inch in size.
Moreover, due to their small size and lightweight shells, Horsefield tortoises are lightweight. On average, a mature Horsefield tortoise weighs around 500 grams or 1.1 pounds.
This species is known by another name, the Russian tortoise. People often distinguish the two based on their size, even though they’re the same species.
How Big Do Russian Tortoises Get?
Large Russian tortoises (or Horsefields) will reach roughly 8-10 inches in length and weigh in at approximately 3 pounds as full-sized adults.
How Big Do Red-Footed Tortoises Get?
Red-footed tortoises are about 1 ½ to 2 inches long when they hatch. They reach their full adult size in 5-10 years at 10-18 inches. A mature red-footed tortoise weighs in at roughly 24 pounds, making it a medium-sized tortoise.
How Big Do Hermann’s Tortoises Get?
Like most other tortoise species, the Hermann’s will leave its egg at about 1 ½ to 2 inches in size.
Despite reaching only about 7.5 inches in size at maturity, Hermann’s are relatively slow growers. They take years to even meet this rather conservative size. Moreover, they reach a weight of 7-9 pounds as mature adults.
Notably, the Hermann’s tortoise has many different sub-species. That means your individual tortoise’s growth rate and final size at maturity may not adhere to the approximation. Therefore, if you buy a Hermann’s tortoise, make sure you know which sub-species you are getting.
How Big Do Leopard Tortoises Get?
Starting off at 1-2 inches long upon hatching, the leopard tortoise is a fast-growing species. It will reach a near-adult size in under a year, provided it receives proper care and a healthy lifestyle.
The rapid growth of a leopard tortoise is one of its central selling points. Some owners are deterred by the many years it takes other species to reach their full size.
The adult size of an individual leopard tortoise may vary, depending on the locale it hails from. The standard for leopard tortoises is 10-18 inches, although some species can attain 24 inches at maturity. Those hailing from Ethiopia and Somalia can even reach sizes of 30 inches in adulthood.
The standard-sized adult will weigh around 44 pounds. However, the larger variants can weigh almost double this. Therefore, if you choose to keep a leopard tortoise as a pet, find out which sub-species you’re buying.
How Big Do Testudo Tortoises Get?
There are two kinds of testudo. These include the spur-thighed tortoise and the Greek tortoise. Although they’re closely related and both kept as pets, they’re of different species.
Testudo Ibera, or the spur-thighed tortoise, is a medium-sized tortoise that reaches approximately 7-8 inches in length at maturity. It weighs in at around 15 pounds. Meanwhile, the testudo graeca, or Greek tortoise, is a smaller tortoise that reaches a length of 5 to 6 inches at maturity and weighs around 13 pounds.
How Big Do Desert Tortoises Get?
Formally known as the Mojave desert tortoise, this is another medium-sized tortoise. It’s a species native to the region north and west of the Colorado River in the United States.
Desert tortoises grow to 9-15 inches long and weigh in at around 8-15 pounds at maturity. Moreover, they’re medium-paced growers, which reach their mature sizes at 15-20 years old. That’s around the same time that these tortoises attain sexual maturity.
What Tortoise Grows the Biggest?
Among the pet species, the sulcata tortoise is the largest kind. It is native to the Sahara desert and sits just behind the Galapagos and Aldabra giant tortoises as the biggest species. It can grow to 2 ½ feet in adulthood.
These giants grow quickly and usually reach maturity at 5-10 years. This means that owners need to be prepared for this fast growth rate and chart out a large pen for them to explore.
A mature sulcata tortoise reaches an average weight of 80 pounds and some can weigh over 100 pounds.
What Is the Largest Tortoise in the World?
The largest tortoise in the world was Goliath. He was a Galapagos tortoise that measured 4.5 feet long. He was only 42 years old when he died and measured 3 feet in width. He weighed an impressive 919 pounds, making him the heaviest tortoise ever recorded.
As for living record-holders, we can look to the Aldabra tortoise species living on Bird Island in the Seychelles archipelago. This male tortoise, named Esmeralda, weighs over 670 pounds and is thought to be around 170 years old.
How Fast Do Tortoises Grow?
Tortoises are famed for being slow growers. However, they reach their full size at their own pace. For example, the Sulcata tortoise caps out its growth in 5-10 years but considering its massive size, this is viewed as a fast pace.
Hermann’s tortoises are small-sized, growing only to about 7.5 inches in adulthood. When compared to sulcata tortoises, they’re slow growers despite taking the same 5-10 years. That’s because they have a far smaller size to reach.
On the other hand, leopard tortoises are medium-sized and reach an average of 24 inches at maturity. They’re notoriously fast growers, taking less than 1 single year to reach their near-adult size.
The growth rate of any tortoise depends on several factors, including its:
Diet, Stress levels, sub-species, Genetics, Enclosure size, Health, Exercise levels, Temperature and humidity levels
How Old Is a Tortoise When Fully Grown?
Some tortoise species take many years to reach their adult sizes, while others take just a few years. In a way comparable to other long-lived species, tortoises don’t take their entire lives to reach their full size. Instead, they reach their maximum length and weight around adolescence and stop growing.
For example, the sulcata tortoise takes about 10 years from hatching to reach its adult size. Given its 100+ year lifespan, this still doesn’t account for a large percentage of its life.
The average pet tortoise can weigh anywhere between 1-24 pounds. However, there’s a lot of variation. Russian or horsefield tortoises may never grow beyond 1-3 pounds. Meanwhile, red-footed tortoises should reach 20-24 pounds to be healthy adults. You can even expect 80 pounds and up from a sulcata. If you want to choose a tortoise based on its weight, take its species and sub-species into account.