Owning a tortoise comes with many challenges, mainly what to feed them. Most pet keepers focus on diet food, forgetting an important aspect: drinking water.
So, do tortoises need water to drink? Yes. Tortoises need water to drink to help them avoid complications associated with dehydration, such as bladder stones and digestive issues. On average, a tortoise can survive for a week without water in a low-humid environment.
In this article, we shall review the tortoise’s need for water beyond drinking and shed light on modes in which tortoises acquire water. In addition, we shall discuss the importance of water to tortoises’ life.
Do Tortoises Need Water To Drink?
Yes. Tortoises require drinking water to stay healthy and hydrated. Due to their tough life on land, most people mistakenly assume they do not need water to drink.
However, on the contrary, tortoises need access to clean and sufficient water to survive, especially in dry areas. They absorb water when bathing through skin pores to help keep their skin hydrated.
Tortoises need clean and adequate water for drinking to reduce the risk of digestion problems and other related health complications. Their body size (pounds) dictates the amount of water (ounces) they need in a day in a ratio of 1:1.
Tortoises can stay for up to one week without drinking water in low humid, rainy regions. Interestingly, they mainly depend on water in the feeds they consume, the green foliage.
Below is a video on a tortoise drinking water.
How Much Water Does A Tortoise Take In A Day?
There is no exact amount of water a tortoise can drink on a particular day or time. Every pound they weigh generally requires one ounce per day of clean water.
Always provide enough water for drinking and swimming during the hot seasons. Tortoises also absorb water through their skin, which helps cool the body and keep the skin soft.
Water requirements vary depending on the following factors.
- Prevailing environmental conditions (temperature): When the temperatures are high in the environment, tortoises will drink more water to stay hydrated.
- Type of diet: If they feed on succulent plants and a diet with a lot of water, they drink less water compared to when they feed on dry matter.
- Age and size: Young tortoises (from hatchlings to 3-year-old torts) drink less amounts of water. On the other hand, old and aged tortoises drink more water due to their higher body mass.
For How Long Can Tortoise Go Without Water?
Tortoises can go without water for up to one week, provided they feed on succulent and fresh vegetables, fruits, and plant matter. Tortoises can go for days without necessary drinking water in a low-humid environment.
However, prolonged days without water can lead to significant digestion problems and other serious health complications. Therefore, it is necessary to keep your tortoise well hydrated by bathing and providing drinking water.
If the situation poses a water challenge, feed them on succulent plants such as cacti in the desert. You can also provide drinking water three times a week to keep your torts hydrated.
How To Make Sure Your Tortoise Drinks Enough Water?
Tortoises are slow to learn, but you can train them to stay hydrated in captivity with constant training. Do the following to ensure your tort drinks enough water.
1. Provide Large Watering Troughs/Bowls
A bowl is essential to ensure a clean water supply for your tortoise. Position them at different areas in the compound and place them under shades to avoid overheating or getting contaminated.
Ensure they are deep enough for the tortoises to keep their head as they drink with both the mouth and nose.
If you don’t have easy access to clean water, you can substitute it with succulent hydrating food such as cucumber, lettuce, and dark green vegetables. Also, you can add fruits to the list, such as melons and bananas.
These feeds help hydrate torts with stored water making the digestion process seamless.
4. Bathe Your Torts Regularly
Tortoises have tough underbelly skin and a shell on top that needs to be kept hydrated. The best routine is to bathe them in plenty of water at least 2-3 times a week.
For the young hatchlings, train them to swim by putting them on your palm in the shallow ends of the ponds in which they can’t drown.
Signs Of Dehydration In A Tortoise
Lack of enough clean water can lead to serious health complications for your pet. Even if tortoises can go for days without water, it’s prudent to note that eventually, they will become dehydrated and die.
Below are some common signs of dehydration you need to look out for.
- Sunken and pale eyes
- Dry and cracked mouth
- Dry feces and thick reduced urine amounts
- Dry skin
- Tough, dry, and cracked shell
Once you detect any of the above signs, provide adequate water in ponds with low embankments for tortoises to swim in and drink. Ensure the skin and the shell are well hydrated, especially during the hot seasons.
If you have remaining questions on tortoise water drinking, here are the answers to them.
Yes. You can give your torts tap water directly without any treatment plan. If the water is safe for human consumption, it is safe for your pet.
You can also give mineral, filtered, or spring water, provided it has the proper temperatures and is safe for drinking.
You need to change the drinking water and clean the bowls and its surroundings. Also, provide hydrating food and succulent plants to supplement their diet.
If your tort still doesn’t drink the water, call a vet to have it checked for possible illnesses.
No. Dandelions are considered diuretic foods from their impact of dehydrating the body when consumed. Avoid these greens, as they will completely dehydrate your already dehydrated pet to death.
Instead, use greens such as cactuses and salads with more water content. If your tortoise is well hydrated, you can use dandelion for its health benefits as a supplement but in moderation.
Tortoises require constant clean water for drinking and bathing to keep their body, skin, and shell hydrated. As much as they can stay for days without water, there is no need to test the limits. Provide clean water in bowls and give them succulent hydrating food.
Train the hatchlings to bathe and stay hydrated from their tender ages. If the tortoise poops in the water or the water gets contaminated, clean the bowls and replenish the water.