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Health Care for Greek Tortoises

I love my pet Greek tortoise and am always looking for ways to take care of him in the best possible way and share my knowledge with others.


Potential Health Issues

Tortoises make good pets and are relatively easy to maintain, but they do fall sick sometimes, so it's important to know how to care for them when they do.

Stomach problems

Just like all living beings, tortoises too can suffer from indigestion—whether it may be constipation or diarrhea. If your tortoise stops going to the toilet, they are most likely constipated. If you see their poop as white liquid, then it's diarrhea.

Most of the time the reasons for both are related to a poor diet. Ensure that when you feed them the leaves are fresh and slightly wet. If you notice this for more than 2-3 days, then it’s time to take them to a vet. In most cases, if you leave them in warm water, they should poop. Sometimes it could be dehydration—placing them in water can help them absorb or drink some water.

Shell rot

This can be either bacterial or fungal. It can be caused by ticks or injuries. Depending on the severity they may require cleaning of the shell and antibiotic injections.

There are two types of shell rot:

  1. Wet is the more serious of the two and can occur when there is a break or crack in the shell, and it gets infected. It will have a foul smell and there may be some discharge. If you notice any of these signs, please take your tortoise to the vet as treatment is vital as anything happening to their shells is serious as it's their means to breathe.
  2. Dry is when you notice white patches on the shell. This also requires treatment and shouldn’t be taken lightly. It may take weeks to heal and is important that you take them to the vet as there sometimes may be secondary infections or other complications.


Sometimes you may find that your tortoise is shedding skin or even on the shell. This is completely natural and, in most cases, could either be too much humidity or lack of Vitamin A. Do not at any point try to pull or peel the skin off, let it shed naturally.

Dry eyes

The eyes of your tortoise should always be clear with no sign of discharge. Sometimes, if it is too humid, you will find that your tortoise eyes are shut and are slow to open. This is a matter of concern but one that can easily be rectified. You can get an eye solution to re-wet the eyes. This is why it is extremely important to manage the temperature and humidity in their enclosure the best you can.

If you notice any of the following for more than 3-4 days, it’s time to visit the vet:

  • Eating less or hardly
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Avoiding the basking area where they are always in hiding and quiet
  • Discolored skin.

All the above is considered abnormal and should be a concern. You take your tortoise to the vet.


Some Safety Precautions When Handling Your Tortoise

  • Always hold your tortoise supporting their full body.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling your pet tortoise (You could use surgical gloves as well to be extra safe).
  • Avoid leaving them on high-up surfaces with limited space. Make sure there is a wall or something to block them from falling. They can get quite fidgety and inquisitive if the space is restricted and from experience, they can fall. Though their shells are tough, it's better not to take a chance—falling on their shells could cause some long-term effects.
  • Pet tortoises are living creatures just like you and me. Be observant, and if you notice any changes that don’t seem normal, take your tortoise to the vet as you would if you were sick. Don’t panic if your tortoise seems sick; instead, try to do the best you can based on the knowledge you have or take them to the vet.

The probability of any of the above is not totally impossible but what you can do is be aware and knowledgeable about these things so you know what you can do if such a scenario arises.

Greek tortoises are usually not pets you need to worry about a lot; instead, the right habitat and a good diet will ensure them a life where they will probably outlive you!

Thank you for your time and reading.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.