Why Your Tortoise Needs to Soak Importance and Benefits

Why Your Tortoise Needs to Soak: Importance and Benefits

If you own a tortoise, you may have heard about the importance of soaking them. Soaking is a crucial part of tortoise care, and it provides numerous benefits to your pet. Tortoises need to stay hydrated, and soaking helps keep their skin and shell in good condition. It also helps their internal organs function properly.

But why do tortoises need to be soaked? There are a few reasons. First, tortoises can become dehydrated easily, especially if they live in a dry environment. Soaking helps them absorb water through their skin and helps prevent dehydration. Second, soaking can help keep your tortoise’s skin and shell healthy. If your tortoise’s skin and shell become too dry, it can lead to cracking and other health issues.

Finally, soaking can be beneficial for your tortoise’s overall health and well-being. It can help them relax and destress, and it can also aid in digestion. Soaking is especially important during certain times of the year, such as before brumation, when your tortoise needs to be well-hydrated before entering a period of dormancy.

Why Tortoises Need to Soak

Maintaining Hydration

Tortoises need to soak in order to maintain their hydration levels. Soaking allows them to absorb water through their cloaca, which is a vital part of their anatomy. This is especially important for tortoises that live in dry environments, as they are more likely to become dehydrated. Soaking also helps keep their skin and shell in good condition and prevents the risk of bacterial infections. Tortoises should be soaked at least twice a week to ensure that they remain consistently hydrated.

Aiding Digestion

Soaking is also important for aiding digestion in tortoises. When they soak, they are able to drink freely, which helps to keep their internal organs working properly. Soaking also allows tortoises to defecate and release uric acid, which can help prevent health issues.

Preventing Dehydration

Dehydration is a serious problem for tortoises, and soaking can help prevent it. When tortoises become dehydrated, it can lead to a range of health issues, including lethargy, weight loss, and even death. Soaking helps to keep tortoises hydrated and healthy, which can prevent these issues from occurring.

Health Issues

Soaking is also important for preventing health issues in tortoises. For example, soaking can help to prevent shell rot, which is a common problem in tortoises. Shell rot is caused by a bacterial infection, and soaking can help to prevent the bacteria from spreading. Soaking can also help to ease scratchy areas of a tortoise’s skin and keep their skin and shell clean.

How to Soak Your Tortoise

Preparing the Soak

Before you start to soak your tortoise, you need to prepare the soak. Here are the things you will need:

  • A shallow container or tub that is big enough for your tortoise to sit in comfortably
  • Lukewarm water that comes up to about halfway up your tortoise’s shell
  • A towel to dry off your tortoise after the soak

Setting Up the Soak

Once you have all the necessary items, you can start setting up the soak. Here are the steps:

  1. Fill the container or tub with lukewarm water.
  2. Make sure the water comes up to about halfway up your tortoise’s shell.
  3. Place the container or tub in a quiet and warm area where your tortoise won’t be disturbed.

Soaking Your Tortoise

Now that you have prepared and set up the soak, it’s time to soak your tortoise. Here are some tips:

  • Place your tortoise in the water with its head facing the shallow end.
  • Let your tortoise soak in the water for about 20-30 minutes.
  • Keep an eye on your tortoise during the soak to make sure it doesn’t try to climb out of the container or tub.
  • After the soak, gently pat your tortoise dry with a towel.

When to Soak Your Tortoise

Frequency of Soaks

Tortoises need to be soaked regularly to stay hydrated and healthy. The frequency of soaks will depend on the age, species, and size of your tortoise. As a general rule, tortoises should be soaked at least twice a week.

For younger tortoises or those that are still growing, they may need to be soaked more frequently. On the other hand, older tortoises may not need to be soaked as often. It’s important to monitor your tortoise’s behavior and adjust the frequency of soaks as needed.

Signs that Your Tortoise Needs a Soak

It’s important to pay attention to your tortoise’s behavior and look for signs that they may need a soak. Some common signs include:

  • Not drinking water from their dish
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Difficulty passing stool
  • Lethargy or lack of appetite

If you notice any of these signs, it may be time to give your tortoise a soak. However, if your tortoise is showing more severe symptoms, such as wheezing or coughing, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian.

Seasonal Changes and Soaking

The frequency of soaks may need to be adjusted during different seasons. In the winter, tortoises may not need to be soaked as often since they are less active and may not be drinking as much water. However, in the summer, they may need to be soaked more frequently to stay hydrated.

It’s also important to monitor the temperature of the water during different seasons. In the winter, the water should be slightly warmer to prevent the tortoise from becoming too cold. In the summer, the water should be cooler to prevent overheating.


Soaking your tortoise is an important part of their overall care. It helps to keep them hydrated, clean, and healthy. By providing regular soaks, you can help prevent dehydration, constipation, and shell rot. It also gives you an opportunity to bond with your pet and observe their behavior and health.

It’s important to follow the proper guidelines for soaking your tortoise, including the appropriate water temperature, depth, and duration. Different species may have different requirements, so be sure to research your specific tortoise’s needs. Always supervise your tortoise during their soak and never leave them unattended.

While soaking your tortoise may seem like a simple task, it can have a big impact on their overall well-being. By incorporating regular soaks into your tortoise’s care routine, you can help ensure they live a long and healthy life.