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Can You Leave A Tortoise Out in The Rain?

Last Updated on October 7, 2023 by Samantha Harris

Tortoises prefer warm and sunny weather, often with relatively high humidity levels. They can’t swim, and it’s unhealthy for them to live in a wet environment.

So, you may be concerned if your tortoise is outside when it rains. That’s especially true for desert species rarely encountering rainfall or heavy downpours.

You can leave a tortoise out in the rain if the temperatures don’t fall drastically and its enclosure doesn’t flood.

Most tortoises like the rain because it allows them to drink, soak, and experience a natural environment. However, the tortoise must have a dry, warm place to retreat.

Tortoises can survive in the cold, but a sudden drop in temperature due to frigid rain can make them sick. Also, tortoises can drown if they lack higher ground to retreat to, especially if they’re small or young.

Can My Tortoise Stay Out in The Rain?

Tortoises are land-based reptiles that can’t swim and shouldn’t live in a constantly wet environment.

Even so, if you take certain precautions, rain isn’t inherently dangerous to tortoises. You can leave your tortoise out in the rain, except in extreme weather conditions.

The factors to consider are as follows:

Amount of Rain 

A tortoise can stay outside in light-to-moderate rain, but prolonged rainfall can flood your tortoise’s enclosure and make it uninhabitable. Unfortunately, tortoises can drown in these conditions.

is rain good for tortoises?


If the rain is warm, your tortoise will likely enjoy the experience.

However, the tortoise may get sick if the temperature falls significantly during or after the downpour. That’s because a lack of sunshine after rain affects a tortoise’s thermoregulation.

At the least, a tortoise that gets too cold due to the rain may grow lethargic from the low temperatures. As a result, it may be unable to digest food or reach higher ground.

Do Tortoises Like Rain?

Tortoises usually enjoy the rain. Most species like to soak in water basins and puddles or get sprayed with a hose, so a little rain isn’t much different.

However, certain species will enjoy being out in the rain more than others, depending on the climatic regions in which they’re found.

Leopards, sulcatas, and red-foot tortoises live in warm and humid climates. So, they can handle being in the rain better than desert tortoises.

Desert tortoises are found in more arid regions and are better acclimated to low-rainfall environments. Nonetheless, they still enjoy the rain occasionally.

Horsefield tortoises and Hermann’s tortoises live in semi-arid environments in the wild. Therefore, they’re well-adapted to warm and cold climates while enjoying some rain on warmer days.

Is Rain Good For Tortoises?

Rain isn’t a problem for tortoises for the following reasons:


Rain allows tortoises to drink and soak to hydrate themselves.

Species that live in naturally arid climates have been observed digging out shallow pools to collect water for drinking when it rains, which allows them to stay hydrated when it’s hot and dry. 

Promotes Activity

A lack of rainfall can affect movement and activity levels.

According to The Journal of Wildlife Management, desert tortoises have been observed traveling shorter distances during low rainfall and drought.

This can be attributed to conserving body water and avoiding dehydration. So, if your tortoise never spends time in the rain, it may become less active.


Infrequent rainfall allows captive tortoises to feel more at home. They’d be exposed to the changing seasons in the wild, with rain being a natural part of that experience.

For species that hail from Mediterranean environments, where rainfall is persistent, never being exposed to rain can be distressing. When owners closely mimic the tortoise’s natural environment, tortoises stay healthier.


Intermittent rainfall in between periods of warm weather creates a humid environment. Captive tortoises raised in areas that experience high humidity tend to develop healthier, more lustrous shells.

what do tortoise do when it rains?

Is Rain Bad For Tortoises?

While rain is ordinarily good for tortoises, problems can arise if the rainfall triggers a drop in temperature. Very often, rainfall brings about cold weather, which can cause the temperature of a tortoise’s body to plummet.

If there’s no sun to warm the environment after a downpour, your tortoise may not be able to raise its body temperature, which can expose it to respiratory illnesses.

If you want to leave your tortoise in the rain, give it somewhere to retreat. This can include an elevated shelter that your tortoise can easily reach or a covered and dry area with a heat lamp present.

What Weather Do Tortoises Like?

Tortoises prefer warm and sunny weather. Depending on the species, they may like this to include high or moderate humidity levels. Tortoises can handle various conditions as long as they’re not too extreme.

According to Biological Conservation, extreme climatic conditions can have detrimental effects on the survival of tortoises. The right temperature for tortoises is 85-95 degrees Fahrenheit, with slight variations based on species.

Can Tortoises Survive in the Cold?

Most tortoises brumate during the cold winter months to maintain their body temperature. They do this by constructing underground burrows at the onset of winter, where they stay until the cold season is over.

Be wary of rainfall that drops the temperatures suddenly. Your tortoise may wake up again once the temperatures rise, but it can harm its health if it takes too long. Sudden brumation can also trigger certain illnesses.

Mycoplasma agassizii, a bacteria found naturally in a tortoise’s nasal cavity, is activated in low temperatures. According to the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, it causes upper tract respiratory issues in various tortoise species.

Low temperatures weaken the immune system of tortoises, which can predispose them to infections, especially if their enclosures are unhygienic.

You can leave a tortoise out in the rain, but not during cold rain or a heavy downpour. Rain can be a hydrating, relaxing, and fun experience for tortoises in moderation.