Here we have tried to answer the questions that we find are the most commonly asked regarding tortoise care, delivery, housing, health and welfare. If you have any additional questions that we have not included or require further information, please give us a call, email us or use our contact page.

I have read something on the internet (forum, group, web page etc) and I am unsure if it is the correct information.

Unfortunately, there are quite a number of people who claim to be tortoise experts and will share contradicting information which can worry some people. If you have any queries or questions and are intending or have already purchased a tortoise and/or product from us at The Tortoise Den, then we advise that you get in touch with us in the first instance for help and advice.

Do you have a licence to sell tortoises/other livestock?

Yes, we have held a licence for over 15 years. It is compulsory for all retailers who sell animals to have an up to date licence whether they have a retail shop, an online shop or both. Our Licence No: 19/PS/019 issued by Cheshire West and Chester Council under ‘The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018’.

My tortoise doesn’t seem very active, is this normal?

This can be normal once a tortoise has been moved to a new environment and may need a little time to settle in. Give your tortoise a nice warm bath daily for the first week or so after purchase to ensure they are fully hydrated and help reduce any stress from the move. It is important to check that the temperatures are correct within the enclosure. There should be a warm basking area at approximately 27-34C and a cooler area at approximately 17-22C. This allows the tortoise to regulate their own temperature, if your tortoise gets too hot or too cold they will be less active.

Can you guarantee the sex of my tortoise?

The simple answer is no, unfortunately we can’t guarantee the sex of your tortoise as a juvenile. It is only once they have matured that the differences between the sexes become more obvious. The male will usually have a ‘v’ shaped notch in their shell to accommodate their longer, slimmer tail which has a ‘spur’ at the tip. However, the female will usually have a ‘u’ shaped notch in their shell to accommodate their shorter, thicker tail. A reptile vet can surgically sex your young tortoise via an endoscopy, however this will have health risks for your tortoise.

Does my tortoise require any routine treatments?

The only routine treatment your tortoise will require is worming. This is an easy treatment and you can do it at home. We use Kusuri Tortoise Wormer Plus which is in powder form and can be added into the bathing water or sprinkled over the food.

My tortoise has done a white poo, is this normal?

This is nothing to worry about and is normal for the tortoise to pass these urates (concentrated uric acid) around 3 times a week as it is a product of protein metabolism. This can vary from a milky liquid form to a yoghurt or toothpaste like consistency. Should the urates be sandy or grainy then this could mean that your tortoise is getting dehydrated so simply increase the number of baths to ensure full hydration is achieved. If your tortoise is passing this white substance more frequently then it may indicate the tortoise has too much protein in their diet. Tortoises require a high fibre but low protein diet to remain healthy.

How often should my tortoise pass waste?

It all depends on how much your tortoise is eating. Your tortoise will usually defecate in the bath or the water bowl. If your tortoise has not passed waste for a few days, then it is a good idea to bathe them in warm water daily until the stools are passed.

How often should my tortoise be bathed?

We recommend that after purchase, you bathe your tortoise with warm water daily for the first week or so. By doing this it helps to discourage any stress from the move of environments. After this period, we recommend that you bathe your tortoise 3-4 times a week or more often during the warmer months.

Does my tortoise need an Article 10 CITES Certificate?

It all depends on the breed of the tortoise and their endangered status. Hermanns, Marginated and African Spur-Thighed to name but a few are all required to carry this legal document. These tortoises are required by the government to have a microchip and an Article 10 CITES certificate unique to that tortoise. This is a legal document issued by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and is required to stay with the tortoise for its entire life, even throughout new ownership.

Is my tortoise required by law to have a microchip?

No, it is not required by law unless it is on the endangered species list and requires an Article 10 CITES certificate. It is useful however to have your tortoise microchipped for identification purposes in case it decides to go for a walk about or in the unfortunate circumstance of being stolen.

I haven’t seen my tortoise take a drink of water, should I be worried?

No, you do not need to be worried as tortoises rarely take a drink of water like you may think. Tortoises will drink by submerging both their mouth and nose in the water and also absorb water through the vent in their tails. As long as your tortoise is receiving regular warm baths it should not get dehydrated.

How much food should I offer my tortoise and how often?

As a general guide we say about the amount of food the same size as your tortoise’s shell. It is not essential to feed your tortoise every day, we would recommend around 5 times a week ensuring not to overfeed.

I have seen some tortoise pellet food to buy, can I use this as a stand-alone diet for my tortoise?

We would advise not! Although some of the pre-packaged, dry foods are advertised as a complete diet we would strongly recommend against this type of food as a sole diet. The more natural food pellets or dried food pouches made from naturally occurring sources such as weeds, flowers and grasses are fine to use as a supplement to a predominantly fresh, natural diet to ensure a long healthy life for your tortoise.

Why do you recommend an open table style housing unit rather than an enclosed vivarium?

An open table style choice is preferable for the types of tortoise that we sell. Tortoises are cold-blooded and like to bask under the heat but then a cooler area allows them to regulate and cool down if required. We find that an enclosed vivarium does not allow for this cooler area, so the tortoises can get too hot and dehydrate quickly.

How much bedding/substrate should I use in my tortoise housing?

Ideally use a coco coir and sand mix to a depth of up to 5cm for younger tortoises and up to 15cm for adult tortoises. This can be increased for Horsfield tortoises as they especially like to dig and burrow down.

How often do I need to change my tortoise bedding/substrate?

If there are any soiled or particularly wet areas these should be cleaned away daily and a full replacement of the substrate approximately every 2-3 weeks.

What age can my tortoise go in an outdoor enclosure?

It is not really dependant on age, if it is warm enough then your tortoise will benefit from natural basking and foraging. Ensure your tortoise is safe from predators and that any escape routes are not accessible. As long as the temperature stays above approximately 14C and your tortoise is safe with access to water, they can stay outside all day.

How long should I leave my tortoises heat and UV light or combination bulb on for?

Whether you are using a separate UV and basking lamp or a combination bulb, they should be switched on for approximately 10-12 hours each day. A timer plug is perfect for this, just set it to come on and go off at the required times each day. During the warmer months, if your tortoise spends time outside, this will provide them with natural heat and UV light.

I have seen my tortoise 'bobbing' its head, should I be concerned?

The likelihood is you don't need to worry. There can be a couple of reasons for this and the most likely reason for your tortoises head bobbing is that it is simply breathing. They are 'bellowing' as they breathe and can be seen to 'pulse' their front legs whilst doing this which is a specific method of ventilating. You may notice this more specifically if they recognise it is feeding time or bath time. Another reason for the head bobbing can be courtship or territorial behaviour, more specifically from the males.

Can I use furnishings such as hides, rocks and slate?

Yes, these can be used within the enclosure. If you are sourcing these out of your own garden, ensure that you have given them a thorough clean with a pet safe disinfectant to eliminate any droppings from other animals. A few words of advice - don’t put rocks or hides too close to the sides of the enclosure, surprisingly tortoises are very good escape artists!

I want to order an item, but it appears to be out of stock or a lower number than I need to order.

We try and update our stock levels on a weekly basis so that you are able to see availability of a product. If an item is out of stock or is low, please get in touch and we will check for you if we have the item in stock or provide you with a back in stock date.

How will my tortoise be delivered to me?

Your tortoise will be in safe hands from us, all the way to your door! We use a trusted, specialist livestock courier (www.walkerseurotransport.co.uk) whom we have worked with for many years. During the cooler months we supply a single use heat pouch to ensure the temperature stays at a comfortable level for your tortoise.

Do you only deliver tortoises on a Thursday?

Thursdays are our specialist courier’s delivery day. Collection from us is on the Wednesday and they deliver out to you, the customer on the Thursday. If you require a specific Thursday, then please get in touch and we will do our best to accommodate your request.

I have just received my order but I’m not happy with it, what should I do?

It is essential that if you are not happy with your order, you contact us via phone, email or via our contact page within 24 hours of receipt of goods for advice or to rectify any issues.

Can I come and choose my tortoise or products in person?

Yes of course, this is actually our preferred method so that we can give the customer our one to one attention. If you would like to collect your tortoise or products in person we just ask that you give us a call, email or use our contact page to arrange an appointment first.

What payment types do you accept?

You can do a bank transfer, pay by card or via PayPal. We accept all major credit and debit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, Maestro and JCB through WorldPay. We take payments when you place your order as we do not hold your card details for future use. We do not take payments over the phone.

How do I hibernate my tortoise?

We have written a Hibernation Information Booklet which contains all the information you need from preparation, through hibernation to the waking up process. This can be downloaded from our 'Care' page.