Hey...I'm lookin' sharp!
People seem to have many different ideas
regarding "outside" care for a healthy tortoise, that is, the
One thought is that since turtles are "wild" animals, they needn't be bathed. Exactly the opposite is true.
Another misconception is preparations of
some type (many of which are commercial) are recommended,
Both the carapace and the plastron of a tortoise
or turtle is comprised of living tissue. It needs oxygen
The build-up of soils, waxes, oils, or other
preparations, is actually harmful to a tortoise's shell. The
It is perfectly safe to give your chelonian friend a bath, in fact he/she might actually like it!
All one needs is a toothbrush, a tub of some sort large enough to accommodate the tortoises, and tepid water, no deeper than is necessary to cover the entire plastron, and a few centimeters of the carapace.
Allow your tortoise awhile to rehydrate itself, usually 15 to 20 minutes, then replace the water.
Often tortoises will
often take advantage of this time to replace their water stores, voiding
the old, and
Take the toothbrush and gently brush the
entire carapace, being particularly attentive to any areas of
Repeat the same for legs, tail, and neck.
Be careful of any areas not covered with scales, as these areas
Finally, rinse well. DO NOT use any type
of detergent, shampoo, or other product unless recommended
Turtles and terrapins, even though most always
in water, appreciate a shell cleaning on occasion as well. Algae, shedding
skin, and normal peeling of the scutes in paper-thin fragments can all
be removed from
After your turtle is clean and dry, if healthy
and on a good diet, should have a shell which shines all by
This procedure gives the keeper an excellent opportunity to examine the animal in detail for any problems, such as injuries, shell rot, or abrasions. Regular, monthly cleaning and inspection make for a healthier, happier turtle, with less chance of potential for skin or shell problems.
FOR CALIFORNIA DESERT TORTOISES (Gopherus agassizzi) DO NOT soak your tortoise, simply follow the above procedure only on a WARM, SUNNY day, allowing the tortoise PLENTY of time to dry out. Never leave a Desert Tortoise soaking in a container, this promotes respiratory problems.
© 1997 Lancaster/Turtlestuff.com