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When it comes to bathing your pet sulcata, many people are confused when someone tells them to bathe or groom their tortoises, for the most part, it looks like they don’t really need a bath since they don’t shed. Bathing your pet sulcata are used to being dirty since they’re constantly walking in the ground, grazing the grass and they can still be considered wild animals – and wild animals don’t take a bath! In this article, you'll learn what to do when it comes to bathing your pet sulcata.

There’s another tortoise misconception out there that if you bought a particular commercial product for your pet’s shell it could make it shiny and or could give the shell some sort of nutrients. That’s not true and most of the time these products are harmful since they have chemical content.

The carapace (top shell) and plastron (bottom shell) of your tortoise is composed of tissues, pores, keratin, and nerves, it requires sunlight and oxygen to keep them healthy so if you apply wax, oils or other commercial products it can accumulate and clog your tortoise’s pores which can eventually lead to problems. So if you want to keep your tortoise’s shell “shiny” and keep them clean, all they need is a clean water, container, and good old tooth brush. Of course, you may need to adjust the brush as they get bigger.

Young or juvenile sulcata tortoises are quite easy to clean because you can still handle them, but once they reach their full size, you may need to rethink how you’re going to clean them up or decide on how you’re going to house them. Usually you just need to provide a small water lagoon in your yard or garden where your tortoise can easily access and soak in thereby naturally cleaning themselves up.

Bathing a tortoise is not a necessity because they’re simply used to getting dirty, but again, since you took on the responsibility of keeping one, it’s your job to make sure that they are clean and receive occasionally bathing for health’s sake and to also prevent spreading of dirt around the house or its enclosure – the best part is, it’s completely safe to do so.

Bathing Materials:

  • Container/Tub
  • Water (depends on how big your pet is – just make sure it’s not filled up too much)
  • Toothbrush
  • Cotton Buds
  • Towel or dry cloth

How to Bathe Your Tortoise

Place your tortoise in the tub and allow it to hydrate himself for about 10 minutes to 20 minutes, after which you can replace the water. Fill the container again with clean water that is no deeper than the tortoise’s plastron and just about a few centimeters deep above its top shell.

Once you do, you should again allow your pet to rehydrate and replace their water stores. While your tortoise is doing that, you can now prepare your bathing tools like a toothbrush. Keep in mind that you don’t need to put any kind of soap, detergent, oils, shampoo or other cleaning materials that has chemical content. Just a fresh clean water and toothbrush will do. Your main objective here is to just simply clean out the shell and their legs, they’re not supposed to smell good or even look good like other household pets.

Once you’ve prepared your brush, just gently brush their top shell particularly the areas where dirt can often build up as well as the sides. Make sure to clean their scutes and you can also slightly clean their head, legs, neck and tail using cotton buds. When brushing their body parts that are not covered with scales or shells, make sure to gently rub it because these areas could be sensitive. Clean up their claws thoroughly since this is one of the dirtiest parts of your tortoise’s body.

After cleaning the top and side of the shells, you can gently flip them over to clean the bottom shell or the plastron. Pay attention to the dirt between their scutes and rub it carefully.

Rinse Them Up!

Once you’re done removing the dirt, you can now rinse them with water. Don’t use any unnecessary product (unless recommended by your vet) because it can be fatal for some tortoise. These products can mix with water and your tortoise can ingest it.

Tortoises don’t really shed skin but sometimes you can see their paper thin scutes peeling off like fragments, it’s quite normal and you can aid in removing that whenever you are brushing them up because it can allow for a much healthier shell.

After you have rinsed them off, take them out of the water, and dry them up using a soft towel or cloth. Gently do this at least once or twice a week or even once a month (it’s entirely up to you) so that your tortoise can be nice and clean.

If you are properly following the husbandry tips and feeding your pet with a healthy diet, their shell will naturally shine by itself without the need for any product. The main advantage of bathing your tortoise is that, it gives an opportunity for owners to thoroughly examine or check their pet if there’ll be any sign of illness, shell rot, injury or even abrasion.

Occasional cleaning will make your tortoise feel neat, happy and healthy. This procedure will also maintain their skin and avoid the rotting of their shells.

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