How To Soak Your Sulcata Tortoise?

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Do you bathe your Sulcata tortoise regularly? If not, you are doing the parenting all wrong. Soaking the Sulcata tortoise is mandatory and carries health benefits for the pets. But how to soak a Sulcata tortoise? Here is how,

  • Take a plastic container.
  • Fill it up with lukewarm water. The water level should not cross the plastron edge of the tortoise.
  • Allow the tortoise head to rest on the shallow side.
  • Let the pet soak for 20 minutes.
  • Then remove the pet and dry it off.

The following article discusses the importance of soaking a Sulcata tortoise and how to do it.

How To Soak Your Sulcata Tortoise?

The experts always advise keeping your Sulcata tortoise hydrated. It is not only by providing the creatures with a bowl of water but also by bathing them regularly.

Now you don’t actually bathe your Sulcata tortoise like the usual pets. Instead, you have to soak the tortoises.

For a newbie, the idea of soaking is new. Let me show you how you can bathe your Sulcata tortoise,

Ready The Bath

You would need a plastic container to soak your tortoises. The task is easier for you if you already have a shallow pool.

You can go ahead and fill the container as it is. But I prefer modifying the tub.

I usually cut one-fourth of the container side, leaving 6 – 10 inches of wall to hold water. This way, the Sulcata tortoise can walk away or walk in the bath anytime. Some owners use small containers instead of cutting them out.

However, using a new container is also okay. But make sure the water level never crosses half the carapace size. Also, the Sulcata tortoise can lay its head to rest and not struggle.

You can make the tub shallow by setting it at an angle. It will allow the tortoise to rest its head on the lower end.

Remember, tub size is essential for the Sulcata tortoises. Never go for large and deep containers as tortoises can not swim. A chin-deep water level is safe for these creatures.

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Once the container is ready, fill it with lukewarm water.

Help The Tortoise Soak

Once the Sulcata tortoise is in the tub, your task is almost done. Also, you can splash water on its carapace and help the pet hydrate.

Usually, a Sulcata tortoise absorbs water via its tail. So, it is okay if you do not wet its carapace.

A temperature near 90 – 100F is suitable for the Sulcata tortoise. The pet tends to walk away from the bath when it feels uncomfortable.

A bath for 20 – 30 minutes is fine for the Sulcata tortoise. You can take the pet out of the tub, or it will climb out once done.

An outdoor bath under the sun is always enjoyable for the tortoises. But you can soak the pet in your indoor basin if there is no space outside.

N.B. Discard the water after soaking your Sulcata tortoise. The chances are the water contains germs and can contaminate the species.

Pat With A Towel

Now it is time to sponge your Sulcata off. Use a paper towel or a cotton towel to pat off its arms, legs, head, neck, and shell. Then, put the pet back in its pen.

How To Scrab Your Sulcata Tortoise?

Soaking the Sulcata tortoise has several purposes. One of them is cleaning the pet.

See, Sulcatas spend their time roaming around in the enclosure. They will play in the substrate and graze on the grass. So, you can not expect them to be clean. Therefore, a little scrubbing during the bath once in a while will not harm the tortoise.

Take a look at the steps of scrubbing dirt from your Sulcata tortoise shell,

Soak The Sulcata

Here, you have to prepare the bath as before and allow the tortoise to soak for 20 – 30 minutes. Soaking will lose the dirt and make the cleaning easier.

Scrubbing Time

Next, take a soft toothbrush and scrub away the dirt from the Sulcata’s body. Be gentle with the brush and do not hurt its skin.

You should not use soap, detergent, or cleaner to scrub the tortoise. Exposure to chemicals can cause itching or inflammation. Instead, fresh water is the best to go with.

Clean Off

Once you are done with scrubbing, pour water on the pet to grim off the dirt. You have to be careful if the pet is dealing with any injury or cracks.

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Dry Off Time

Now that the bathing is done, pat the tortoise with a towel. Make sure the pet is totally dry, and then release it back to the enclosure.

Do You Need To Soak Tortoises?

The baby tortoises need to soak daily, and the adults need a proper bath twice or thrice a week. Soaking has several benefits for tortoises. For example, it keeps them hydrated and clean and allows them to urate regularly.

Let me add more details on why soaking is significant for the tortoises,

1. Hydration:

Do you know tortoises can go years without food? I am not joking. Several reports claim that tortoises can survive up to 3 years without food.

But wait for a second.

Though tortoises can manage to survive years without waiting, they can not go a week without water. However, a tortoise can survive one-week maximum without drinking in a humid environment.

So, water is a must for tortoises. Dehydration makes their skins and shells flaky and leads to crackings. Not to mention other internal complexions that are caused by dehydration.

When you soak your tortoises, they take the first few minutes to drink water. Though vegetables and greens meet most water requirements, bathing is still mandatory.

Here is a fun fact. Tortoises can soak water via their cloaca or butt.

2. Pooping:

Turtles prefer pooping or urinating in the water like turtles. The lukewarm water of the bath stimulates the urge to dump in these creatures and relieves them.

When there is no access to water, tortoises show no interest in pooping. As a result, they can fall victim to gallbladder stones.

Sometimes, tortoises urinate right after you put them in the bath. In such a case, change the water if required.

3. Cleanliness:

Bacterial infections are dangerous for tortoises. A single entry of bacteria or fungus into the body can permanently damage these creatures.

Bathing the tortoise regularly helps them hydrate or urate and prevents bacterial growth. A little scrabbing on the shells and skins is enough to maintain hygiene for this pet.

How Long Should You Soak Your Sulcata Tortoise?

A 15 – 20 minutes soaking time is enough for the baby Sulcata tortoises. But for the adults, you should let them bathe for 20 – 30 minutes.

For soaking, you have to prepare a lukewarm bath. The container should be shallow so that the pet can rest its head on the side while enjoying the water.

Generally, a tortoise walks out when it is done soaking. But, you can also remove the creature once it urates in the water.

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How Often Should I Soak My Sulcata Tortoise?

A Sulcata tortoise hatchling requires soaking every day until they grow young. On the contrary, the adult Sulcatas enjoy soaking twice or thrice a week.

Soaking the tortoises is crucial. Placing the pets in water allows them to drink water and urate too. So, refraining the tortoises from soaking will dehydrate them and increase the risk of bladder stones.

What Temperature Should I Soak My Tortoise?

The ideal soaking temperature is 85 – 95F. However, some owners raise the temperature to 100F to make the bath more comfortable for the tortoise. While adjusting the water temperature, you must use a thermometer.

Temperature plays a crucial role in soaking a tortoise. Warm water comforts the creatures and, at the same time, stimulates urates in the pets.

I always advise using a thermometer to check the water temperature. Too hot or too cold water can mess up the metabolism of the pets and sometimes cause illness.

Do Tortoises Absorb Water Through Their Tails?

You might have heard that tortoises absorb water via their butts. Well, it’s true. Tortoises actually hydrate through their tails and rectum.

Apparently, tortoise cloaca cells are specially designed to absorb water. So those cells on the butt can actually keep the tortoises hydrated.

Though tortoises can absorb water via their rectum, this is not the way to let moisture in. The tortoises fulfill most of the water requirements from their diet. Veggies and weeds contain enough water content to save the tortoises from dehydration.

Nevertheless, tortoises need to drink water, and providing them with a fresh water source can make your job done. Again, while soaking these pets, they submerge their mouths in the water and drink.

Can I Soak My Tortoise Everyday?

If you have a baby tortoise, you need to soak the pet every day. On the contrary, an adult tortoise needs a bath only twice or thrice a week.

Like camels, tortoises can retain water for days. While the babies still have not developed this capability, the adults surely ace it. Therefore, the hatchlings need a regular bath, and the adults require two or three soakings a week.

Besides hydration, soaking the tortoises removes dirt from their shells and carapace. As a result, there is a lesser risk of bacterial attack.


Soaking the Sulcata tortoise is not a challenging task. All you have to do is fill a plastic container with lukewarm water and put the tortoise in. the water level should not be so high that the pet struggles to stand.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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