Why Do Tortoises Need to Be Soaked?

Tortoises need to be soaked in order to stay hydrated and clean. They should be soaked at least twice a week. This will ensure a tortoise stays consistently healthy and strong, and will prevent the threat of bacterial infection or dehydration.

If you have a tortoise and you want to make sure you offer it the best life possible, then soaking it regularly is necessary to help ensure that you do.

Tortoises are a land dwelling, warm climate animal, and at first, the idea of soaking them might seem counter intuitive. After all, notwithstanding tropical tortoises, in the wilds of dry scrubland, they would rarely have access to large bodies of water.

Moreover, reptiles have the ability to recycle the water from their bladder, back into their system whenever they need water and have none available.

So, why is there such a pressing need to soak them? What would happen if you didn’t soak your tortoise regularly? All these questions and more will be answered below.

Why Do You Need to Soak Your Tortoise?

Even if many tortoises are desert species, it doesn’t change the fact that they need water in different ways.

Dehydration is the main reason why soaking your tortoise is necessary. Like humans, tortoises can get dehydrated, and that shouldn’t happen, not if you want the tortoise to stay healthy and happy at all times. Maintaining your tortoise’s hydration will prevent potential skin or shell issues, not to mention that it will also prevent permanent damage to the internal organs.

Thus the bottom line is that soaking allows the reptile to stay hydrated and ensures their skin, shell, or organs don’t have issues.

Usually, if the opportunity presents itself the tortoise will soak itself somewhere in the wild, or it will take on water from the humid air in a humid burrow. When in captivity, this isn’t necessarily possible, and because of that, the tortoise needs a helping hand from you.

Another reason why soaking is important is that low humidity can affect the tortoise. While having a dry environment would be good for many other pets, tortoises are different. If the air in your home is too dry, then you shouldn’t be surprised to see your tortoise’s skin and shell drying out. But this can be avoided. If the air is too dry, soaking your tortoise is one way that will help reverse the effect.

Other than that, soaking is also a way to help keep your tortoise clean. When you soak it in fresh water, dirt or bacteria present on the shell and skin will be washed away. As a result, you also improve the hygiene of the tortoise and their enclosure.

How Do You Bathe Your Tortoise?

Bathing your tortoise is not that difficult and it doesn’t take too long until you get it nice and clean. Here are some steps that you should take to clean your pet:

  1. Fill a Container with Water

First things first, you should take a container and fill it with water. Make sure it’s a bowl that your tortoise will feel comfortable in. You can use a container with lower sides, but if you’re forcing the tortoise to soak, then it’s prudent to have one with higher sides, although you should only fill it enough to cover the tortoise’s tail.

As for the water you pour into the container, you should ensure it is lukewarm. Don’t make it too hot, because this could be dangerous. If you add hotter water, you should mix it with some cold water. Also, don’t forget that while you’re soaking the tortoise, their head should be above the water surface.

  • Soak the Tortoise

Now, you need to soak the tortoise. You can simply leave it in the water container and give it some time to moisturize. There isn’t much to do apart from that. In the meantime, the tortoise’s body will simply naturally hydrate. The tortoise’s body will absorb water through the cloaca.

Should You Do a Forced or Voluntary Soak?

A common dilemma is whether the tortoise should be soaked voluntarily or forced. Usually, tortoises will enjoy being soaked, so it will be a voluntary thing most of the time. In other situations, some tortoises will go away when they encounter water. Just because they do that, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be soaked. As such, you need to bathe them anyway.

In order to prevent the reptile from escaping, you should just take a container with higher sides that doesn’t allow the pet to climb out. This is what a “forced soak” means. You don’t literally have to use any force. Also, doing this works to the advantage of the tortoise.

Do You Have to Dry the Tortoise After the Soak?

Even though soaking the tortoise is good for them, you shouldn’t place them back into their enclosure if they are still wet. It could be dangerous because the tortoise might feel too humid or cold, which might result in an illness or an infection.

Instead, dry your reptile by using a towel and pat it very gently until dry. Make sure to reach all the different sides and edges of the shell and their limbs. Ensure you get a new and clean towel that you’ll use exclusively for your pet tortoise.

What Should You Do with the Water Afterwards?

Once you let the tortoise soak and remove it from the container, the best thing to do is dispose of the water. It’s very rare to catch something from the reptile’s bath, but you still have to be wary, as tortoises may carry the salmonella bacteria. This of course causes food poisoning in humans, so care should certainly be taken.

Make sure to pour the water into a drain or down the toilet. Avoid doing it in the kitchen sink or wherever you wash your hands and face.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, soaking your tortoise is a must, and you should always repeat this process whenever necessary. Otherwise, your tortoise might become dehydrated and even get sick. Through soaking, you keep the tortoise hydrated and clean. You should do it regularly for best results – one or two times a week should be great.

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