Do Tortoises and Turtles Need Vaccinations

Do Tortoises and Turtles Need Vaccinations?

Taking ownership of a dog is a big responsibility that requires plenty of thought a tortoise is no different from a dog, and we have a lot to consider. It is expected that we have to take our dogs to the vets for vaccination; however, do tortoises need vaccinations? There is not a lot of information around on the subject.

Tortoises & Turtles don’t need vaccinations or regular veterinarian visits. However, it is good practice to take a tortoise or turtle to a reptile vet once a year for a checkup. There may be times your tortoise or turtle needs medication in the way of vaccination to prevent specific diseases. 

Despite your shelly little friend not needed a vaccination, there are some best practices to keep them in tiptop condition and stop them ever requiring a vaccination. 

Do Tortoises and Turtles Need Regular Vet Visits?

Reptiles that tortoises and turtles fall into are hardy creatures, and dont require regular vet visits, unlike other animals like cats and dogs. For people who own tortoises and turtles, it is often seen as a bonus of ownership. 

However, I regularly see people boast they have never taken their reptile to the vet, and they sort any problems out themselves. While this is entirely possible, it’s not a practice I would ever advise, and any issues are always worth being looked at by a vet. 

I take my tortoises once per year for an overall health checkup by my local vet. If I have any problem, I may visit; however, this would be rare for me to do. 

Suppose you have a tortoise or turtle that lives a lot of its lives outside, which is excellent. The tortoise is exposed to much more bacteria, pests, and weather, leading to more health problems than you would see in a tortoise kept in an enclosure permanently.  

Best Way to Find a Vet for a Tortoise or Turtle

Have a cat or a dog, and you will find a vet list as long as your arm to care for them; a tortoise or turtle, on the other hand, is a whole new issue. 

When finding a vet for reptiles, you may find that they charge a lot more than you expect. My suspicions with this are that they dont want to treat reptiles that dont genuinely understand. 

Before purchasing a tortoise, look for local vets in your area and see if any deal with reptiles. Dont be shy in ringing and asking if they deal with tortoises or turtles; they may even offer you advice on where to purchase your animal locally. 

Building a rapport with a vet before ownership will allow you to interact with them without pulling up your bank to make payment for the basic questions. 

Ensure that your vet specials in reptiles, specifically tortoises and turtles, as I have seen some horrific advice given by vets who dont specials in them. For instance, telling an owner to feed their tortoise meat, which you should never do

With this said, a vet that doesn’t specialize in tortoises or turtles doesn’t mean they can’t offer primary care. However, when things start to get a little complicated, the advice can be way off the mark. 

Specialist reptile vets can be hard to come by, and you will need to be lucky to find one close by your home. You may have to prepare for long drives once a year to a vet to check over your tortoise or turtle. 

This may put many people owning an exotic animal, but it can be a price worth paying for others for the little amount they need the vet.  

Local reptile store 

Now, this is a little left field, and one many might not agree with but hear me out if you have a local reptile store that sells tortoises and turtles who have been in the community for a long time. 

The chances are they are a reputable store due to standing the test of time. Asking advice from someone whose job is every day to keep exotic animals healthy for sale may be the best advice you can get. 

Can You Vaccinate Your Tortoise or Turtle at Home?

Vaccination is when you administrate medication through a needle, so no, it would not be advisable to vaccinate your tortoise or turtle at home. 

I have seen this come up many times within the tortoise community, and I feel people get mistaken. To vaccinate a tortoise or turtle is to offer them medication through a needle.

It will take a practiced and experienced vet to safely and correctly vaccinate any exotic animal, even a slow-moving tortoise. Trying to carry this out yourself could cause your tortoise or turtles great pain and even death.  

You should always seek veterinarian advice and never self-diagnose any illness that you feel needs medication. Vitis a dedicated vet that is trained at treading tortoises and turtles. Diagnosing by yourself and self administrating can lead to your tortoise becoming more ill or worse. An outcome no one wants and would be heartbreaking. 

I’m not saying you can’t self-diagnose your tortoise; however, something that needs medication should be confirmed by a trained vet. Your knowledge of your tortoise could be crucial in pinpointing the problem and help your vet get the right diagnosis.

Learning some of the common problems that can go wrong with turtles and tortoises is well worth remembering. You will then know about and be able to spot the signs early and, most crucially, how to prevent them in the first place.

When Does a Tortoise or Turtle Need a Shot

The biggest thing you need to be aware of is visiting a vet with little knowledge of tortoises and turtles when offering a vaccine shot. 

Inexperienced vets can offer to give your tortoise a shot of vitamins A, D, or E. Your tortoise should be getting plenty of these vitamins in their diet, and having too much can cause serious health issues if they get too much. 

Just ask what shot they are offering and ask if it’s vitamins A, D, or E. You should be able to provide your tortoise plenty of these vitamins through their diet without the need for a shot. 

Shots would typically be administered to pet tortoises or turtles with intestinal parasites, shell rot, and respiratory infections. A shot would only be given when these problems have become severe, and you need the medicine to get into your tortoise or turtle system quickly.

In a majority of cases, they can be treated without the need for a shot.

It is doubtful that your tortoise will ever need a shot tortoise are hardy. Feeding tortoises and turtles a diet rich in vitamin-heavy and mineral-rich foods with occasional treats will keep them from needing any shots.

It’s Nothing to Worry About

If your tortoise or turtle ever needs a shot, there is little to worry about, but it will need to be carried out by an experienced vet who deals with reptiles regularly. 

Your vet will push the tortoise head back, exposing their legs. Moving their right or left leg to the side to expose the much softer skin. The vet will then push the needle into the pectoral muscle to administrate the medicine. The whole process will be quick and painless for your tortoise or turtle. 

Healthy Tortoise = Happy Tortoise

A healthy tortoise is a happy tortoise that will have a long and happy life. The first steps of keeping a healthy tortoise are where you purchase them. Some will jump to a large pet store; however, I would always suggest a local breeder. 

Your local breeder is much more likely to understand the tortoise’s needs better. A good breeder will know the tortoise’s bloodline and any problems that the lineage is susceptible to over their life. Your local breeder will have taken care of your new tortoise from a hatchling and given them the proper care.

This is not to say a large store, not the place to buy a tortoise. I would just ask many more questions. A tortoise that has not got to the best start in life is much more likely to be a tortoise requiring shots.

Making some checks on your tortoise before purchase will also reduce the chances of you having to get your tortoise vaccinated. Checking their nose and eyes are clear, and there are no bite marks on the body from mites. Listen out for wheezing coming from the tortoise; this is a sure sign of respiratory infection. 

Buying a tortoise online will offer you more problems. Reputable online sellers will have a phone number and be happy to chat with you about their care and any issues they may have had. Someone who doesn’t want to talk or is cadgy about their tortoise should be avoided. 


Tortoises and turtles are very unlikely to need vaccinations there are only ever given when your tortoise or turtle has become very ill. With the correct diet and care, you will catch any problems early, stopping the need for a shot. 

Learning about tortoise and turtle aliments will allow you to spot early signs and put things right. Tortoises and turtles are hardy, but they are still exotic animals and require trips to the vet, just not as much as your cat or dog. 

There is little chance of needing to get your tortoise or turtle vaccinated if you offer them the correct lighting and diet.