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Cleaning and Maintenance

Indoor Set Ups

Daily spot cleaning

This is a good habit to get into. 

Young tortoises require daily bathing to avoid dehydration in these optimum temperatures.  While the tortoise is out of the table, taking its daily bath, you can use the time to do a quick tidy up of the enclosure.  Pick out any tortoise poo and clumps of soil wet from urine.

Clean food and water slates/bowls

Clean and refresh the food and water bowls daily.  There are many reptile disinfectants, such as F10, available to help you sterilise the bath, the enclosure, and other equipment.

Combination bulbs and UV tubes

Change UVB lamps according to manufacturers instructions.

Complete substrate change and table clean

It is good practice to do a full substrate change every few months and while the table is empty it is a good time to replace any damaged lining and to disinfect the table and any rocks and hides.

Outdoor Housing

A good time to start the cleaning and maintenance programme is during the period of time when a tortoise is in hibernation.  Over the year prior to hibernation your tortoise will have grown, and its needs will have changed, so now is the time to meet those demands.

Tortoise House

As soon as possible after your tortoise is in hibernation empty the enclosure of all substrate, paying particular attention to the corners.  This can be a very dusty job and may need to be done over a few days, depending on the size of your set-up.  Once emptied, a solution of F10 or other suitable animal disinfectants can be used to clean the area: again this may need several attempts according to the size of your set-up. 

Feeding and water slates and bowls

Use a scrubbing brush and clean all feeding and water dishes, as well as any houses/hides -- these can then be soaked in a solution of F10 too.

Check for wear and tear

Once the dust has settled you can start from the top of the tortoise enclosure to check for any signs of wear and tear.
  • Is the roof water tight?
  • Does the outer surface need staining?
  • Do you need to expand the area to meet your tortoise's growing needs?
  • Will you need a quarantine area for new stock, or to be able to separate existing stock due to males becoming sexually active, females nesting or illness?


  • Do you need to replace UV lights?
  • Are the light fittings and heaters secure with no bare or hanging wires?
  • Do you need to replace the batteries in your smoke alarm or in your digital thermometers?
  • If you have a fire extinguisher check that it is still in date and make sure it is suitable for use with electrical appliances.


  • Do you need to install CCTV?
  • Are your locks of outdoor tortoise housing strong enough?
  • Do you need to add wire to the top of your enclosure to prevent predators from gaining access?
  • When your tortoises wake from hibernation, take a picture of the top and underneath of the shell for ID purposes (do this annually).


  • Are the perimeters still secure?
  • Do you need to add sand to the substrate to allow for better drainage due to an increase in rain?
  • Think ahead regarding what plants are required to allow for an interesting enclosure, to provide free grazing and to offer protection from strong sunshine and wind.
  • Can seeds of suitable plants to be grown for feeding be planted now to be ready for your tortoise's awakening?


Ensure your specialist vet has not moved from his/her practice.  Keep the number at hand!

Tortoise Diary

Keep a written record of your tortoise's daily routine/behaviour so that someone else can carry on with the daily routine should you go on holiday or become unavailable for any reason.

The number of tortoises you have should be included on the record sheet; so that any helpers know how many should be indoors at night or in poor weather conditions.