New Tortoises

When you add a new tortoise to your creep (a 'creep' is the collective noun for a group of tortoises), it is essential that it is kept separate from your existing tortoises for a period of a minimum of at least 3 months, and preferably for 6 - 8 months.  Many people quarantine for a full year, as this is the safest period.  If you choose to quarantine your new tortoise for only 3 months, then it is wise to get a faecal test done by a vet at the end of that period to rule out some of the potential problems, but this will not rule out all of them.  

Why Quarantine New Additions?

Newcomers can arrive bearing diseases that might not be immediately apparent, or which can -- like Herpes -- lie dormant for a long period of time, only becoming active and apparent when a tortoise's immune system is compromised or stressed. 

It is stressful for a tortoise to move from familiar surroundings, and disease can spread rapidly through a creep.  Sadly, quarantine is often overlooked in the enthusiasm to introduce a new tortoise to existing ones, and it has been known for an entire creep of tortoises to be wiped out over a period of a few days due to lack of quarantine.

Quarantine ill Tortoises

Any ill tortoise must be separated from others to help reduce the risk of spreading disease or parasites.


What is essential is that during the quarantine period you maintain the highest standards of hygiene when handling your tortoises, so that you don't inadvertently spread contamination from the quarantined tortoise to the others.
  • Ensure that quarantined tortoises are fed separately, using different utensils
  • Washing hands carefully, both before and after handling any tortoise, and using a high-quality antiseptic, such as Betadine or Virkon-S to wash surfaces, utensils, etc. will help to maintain hygiene
  • It is also wise to avoid wearing the same shoes when walking from one outdoor enclosure to another in case faecal matter from one enclosure gets transferred to another.  
  • It's a good idea to handle, feed, bathe, etc. existing tortoises first, and then wash your hands before handling the new tortoise. 

Quarantine Areas

Indoors it is best to have completely separate accommodation in a different room for the new arrival if possible, but outdoors a small quarantine area can be made inside a larger tortoise garden if space is at a premium.

Some tortoise keepers choose not to quarantine and experience no problems at all,
it is a very big risk to your tortoises' health.

Our advice is for you not to be tempted to shortcut the process of quarantine:
the risks and possible consequences of not quarantining can be devastating and precautions practiced early on will reap benefits later.

© The Tortoise Table 2016