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Do Tortoises Smell As Pets?

Last Updated on June 2, 2022 by Samantha Harris

People often wonder if tortoises are smelly pets. In truth, tortoises are mostly odorless, which makes them ideal in this regard.

Foul smells only become an issue if the tortoise is poorly cared for. If you have good tortoise husbandry, you shouldn’t experience any problems with a tortoise’s odor.

Most owners can’t detect the smell of a tortoise. You may notice a musky, dry, or outdoorsy smell. Tortoises don’t have odor glands, sweat glands, fur, or other factors that usually lead to a smelly pet.

People believe that tortoises stink because turtles sometimes do. However, unlike turtles, tortoises are exclusively land animals.

Because torts are rarely covered in water, there’s little chance of them developing that old, damp smell commonly associated with turtles.

What Do Tortoises Smell Like?

Tortoises don’t produce a strong natural odor, so they’re not smelly pets. As stated, the misconception that tortoises are smelly comes from people confusing tortoises for turtles.

Turtles and tortoises are different. While they’re both reptiles, turtles are sea creatures, while tortoises are exclusively land animals. People often say that turtles smell like a damp basement, which makes sense considering that they spend so much time in the water.

Tortoises take baths and soak in water, but they don’t swim or spend much time in water outside of cleaning. If anything, they smell a bit earthy, especially after spending time outside.

Beyond that, you won’t be able to smell a tortoise unless you press your nose right next to it.

Do Tortoises Smell Bad?

If tortoises spend time outside, they have a subtle, earthy smell, but it’s not an offensive scent. When people talk about a tortoise smelling bad, what they smell might be the enclosure.

If you’ve removed your tortoise from the enclosure and notice that the terrible smell is coming from the tortoise, you need to bathe them.

Your tortoise may be smelly because it’s covered in rotten food or poop. Also, germs and bacteria can accumulate if the tortoise hasn’t soaked in more than a week.

You should bathe your tortoise at least once every 2-3 weeks. Leave a shallow bowl (less than neck height) inside where the tortoise can soak daily.

This will prevent the accumulation of substances that make your tortoise smelly.

Does Tortoise Poop Smell?

Tortoise poop smells unpleasant, although the odor isn’t as strong as other animals.

Tortoise poop smells worse if you let it accumulate. Tortoises poop every 2-3 days, so you would have to fail to clean it up for over a week for it to smell.

Food is also something that affects how smelly tortoise poop is. Pungent foods will create pungent excrement after digestion.

Different tortoise species have different poop smells, as their digestive systems aren’t the same. A tortoise’s poop may smell if it’s switching diets as its stomach needs to adjust to the change.

Does Tortoise Urine Smell?

Tortoise urine doesn’t have a strong smell when it’s first produced.

Odor problems start to arise when your tortoise has urinated and the owner hasn’t noticed it. The longer that urine is allowed to fester, the more potent the smell will become.

Tortoise pee consists of a clear liquid and some white urates. Depending on the tortoise’s hydration level, the liquid portion can range from colorless to yellow.

tortoise smells fishy

Do Tortoises Smell When They Die?

Tortoises smell when they die because, as they decompose, bacteria begin to eat away at the flesh. These bacteria accumulate and produce a foul smell as the flesh rots.

When inexperienced owners take care of their brumating tortoise, they initially can’t tell if the tortoise is dead or not. There are many ways to tell, the smell being one of them.

If a tortoise isn’t moving and begins to smell bad, it’s dead, so its body is decomposing.

Tortoise Attracts Flies and Bugs

If your tortoise is attracting flies and bugs, there’s a hygiene issue.

Usually, it’s not the tortoises themselves that attract pests, but rather the enclosure. Flies are attracted to bacteria, so a dirty enclosure will become a favored place for flies.

The flies themselves will introduce new bacteria into the enclosure that can make your tortoise sick. To avoid this, regularly clean your tortoise’s enclosure.

Some bugs will be more attracted to the food in the enclosure. If the enclosure is open and you don’t have a way to cover it, you should clear any food left inside at night.

For enclosures inside your home, get rid of any food you have inside the room to discourage insects from going anywhere near your tortoise’s tank.

Do Smelly Tortoises Attract Rats?

Tortoises don’t attract rats; if they do, the tortoise is dead, and the rats want to eat the flesh.

If you find that rats can get inside your tortoise’s enclosure, you need to take action. Rats carry diseases that can kill your tortoise if exposed.

Do Tortoise Enclosures Smell?

When owners notice a foul smell coming from the enclosure, it’s rarely due to the tortoise itself.

Tortoise enclosures can become smelly for the following reasons:

  • Food
  • Mold
  • Bacteria
  • Poop
  • Substrate

If you leave the food out for hours or days, not only will the pungent smell of rotting food waft throughout the enclosure, but it’ll attract flies and vermin.

Mold and bacteria will run rampant in enclosures that aren’t cleaned as often as they should be. Normally, you should fully clean the enclosure once a month.

How to Stop A Tortoise from Smelling

Tortoises don’t smell, but the bacteria from a dirty enclosure can develop into a strange odor if it gets on the shell. To stop a tortoise from smelling, you need to give it a bath every 2-3 weeks.

This will eliminate all the dirt and grime the tortoise has accumulated on its shell and skin. Because most tortoise species have no problem bathing regularly, keeping a small, shallow pool in the enclosure for your tortoise to soak in when the need arises is a good idea. This can also help with hydration.

Washing the enclosure regularly is a great way to keep your tortoise clean and odorless for longer. The enclosure should be cleaned thoroughly once a month or more frequently if there’s a problem. The poop should be cleared out as soon as you notice it, especially if you have more than one tortoise.