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do tortoises attract bugs?

How To Get Rid of Bugs in A Tortoise Enclosure

Tortoises don’t have a species-specific smell, but all animals poop and pee. So, their enclosures will get dirty and attract bacteria. Inevitably, when this happens, a bad smell will accumulate.

To get rid of bugs in a tortoise enclosure, change the bedding every 2-3 weeks. Most bugs nest and lay eggs in moist soil, wood shavings, and sand, feeding on leftover food and microorganisms.

Also, use food-grade diatomaceous earth, and hang sticky paper traps above the enclosure to kill flies.

Tortoises themselves don’t attract small bugs. In fact, some tortoises eat bugs, and fleas usually ignore tortoises because they don’t produce enough carbon dioxide.

So, a tortoise won’t cause a bug infestation, but an unclean enclosure (poop, leftover food, etc.) will.

Do Tortoises Attract Bugs?

Tortoise enclosures can become breeding grounds for bugs and other pests if they’re not cleaned regularly and thoroughly. Decaying food and tortoise poop will be irresistible food sources to insects.

The warm and moist air in the enclosure can attract bugs because they breed in dark and humid areas. These conditions are ideal for incubation and hatching cockroaches, flies, mites, fleas, and other bugs.

As bacteria leads to rot and decay, insects can feed on these organisms and the rotting matter itself.

If tortoises contribute to this problem, it’s because they need thick layers of bedding where they can dig and bury themselves. This substrate may become infested with insects if it’s not changed regularly.

When you find white bugs in a tortoise tank, it’s usually in the soil or bedding itself. These may be the hatchlings and juvenile offspring of insects trying to live in the substrate.

Peat and moss can be good substrates for a tortoise tank, but they can smell bad if left for too long, especially when they become overly damp, which will attract bugs over time.

Change part of the substrate every 2-3 days and completely change the bedding every 2-3 weeks to eliminate the bad odors and prevent bugs from entering the enclosure.

Do Tortoises Attract Flies?

Some wild tortoises not only eat plants but also chase and eat insects.

According to the British Ecological Society, this includes millipedes, flies, and other bugs. However, nothing will keep flies away from a stinking tortoise enclosure; it’ll attract flies if a tank is dirty and smelly.

Fruit flies are the most commonly attracted to an enclosure. Since the diet of tortoises mainly consists of vegetables, flowers, and fruits, you’ll see fruit flies gathering around any leftover food.

As the leftover fruit and vegetable decay, they’ll release a smell that attracts flies. So, it’s always sensible to clean all food dishes and dispose of leftovers within a few hours.

tiny bug in tortoise cage

Do Tortoises Get Fleas?

Tortoises don’t get fleas since they only like hairy or feathered animals.

Fleas cannot live on tortoises long-term since they’re covered in scales and have keratin-bone shells. This makes it difficult for fleas to latch on and feed, especially on thick-skinned areas of the body.

Moreover, fleas are attracted to the carbon dioxide that mammals produce. Since tortoises are cold-blooded animals, they don’t produce high amounts of carbon dioxide, limiting the draw of fleas.

Like all ectotherms, the metabolic activities of a tortoise tend to be slower since they can’t regulate their body temperatures. According to the Journal of Thermal Biology, this impacts the amount of carbon dioxide they produce.

Do Tortoises Get Mites?

Mites are less picky than fleas and will latch onto a tortoise.

Of course, this will only happen if your tortoise’s enclosure is left dirty and unkempt. Tortoises may not attract mites, but they can doggedly pester them once the mites arrive.

Tortoises rarely get mite infestations when properly cared for. However, you can get rid of this tiny bug in a tortoise cage by using various natural, pet-friendly sprays.

What Attracts Bugs To A Tortoise Enclosure?

To avoid infestations, check for these attractants:

Decaying Food And Leftovers

Rotting foods and vegetables are bound to attract insects to a tortoise enclosure. Bugs and pests feed on decaying food and microorganisms, hastening the decomposition process.

Dirty Feeding Dishes

Dirty food dishes and water containers will attract bugs to a tortoise’s enclosure. According to the University of Florida, bugs have a strong sense of smell and can detect leftovers from far away.

Even if the bowls are empty, you’ll find food debris, stains, spills, and algae growing on a bowl.

Overly Damp Substrate Or Beddings

Like most reptiles, tortoises require adequate humidity to stay hydrated.

You can easily achieve this by setting up a thick layer of substrate in your tortoise enclosure. However, bugs also like dark and moist environments, which means damp bedding can attract pests and insects.

As discussed, the substrate should be spot cleaned regularly and changed every 2-3 weeks.

Tortoise Poop

Tortoise poop can become smelly if left in the enclosure for a long time.

The unpleasant odor may attract pests and bugs as the poop begins to decay. This will become more likely if the waste contains undigested food, so you should dispose of the poop regularly to avert bugs.

Are Fungus Gnats In Tortoise Enclosure Dangerous?

Fungus gnats don’t pose any threat to tortoises.

These small, dark, flying insects thrive in damp soils. Since tortoises love moist substrate, where they can dig burrows and bury themselves, you may find fungus gnats in a tortoise’s enclosure.

Fungus gnats play an important role in the ecosystem, pollinating various plants and fungi. They also feed on organic matter and decaying roots, thus aiding the decomposition process.

The only concern is that fungus gnats can destroy some plants in a tortoise enclosure, reducing its food sources. You may struggle to eradicate fungus gnats if your tortoise enclosure is outdoors.

fungus gnats in tortoise enclosure

Why Are There Springtails In Tortoise Enclosure?

Springtails or snow fleas are small insects that live in damp areas.

Their preference for moisture is because they’re in your tortoise’s enclosure. These tiny bugs feed on decaying plants and are harmless to tortoises.

Since springtails don’t bite tortoises or cause structural damage, most owners leave them alone.

Getting Rid Of Cockroaches In Tortoise Enclosure

Here are some ways to remove cockroaches from your tortoise enclosure:

Clean Regularly

Whether the infestation is cockroaches or another bug, perform a deep clean of the enclosure. Change the substrate out, clean all food and water dishes, and remove all leftover food.

Use Natural Pesticides

To get rid of cockroaches in a tortoise enclosure, use only natural, pet-friendly pesticides like diatomaceous earth.

Food-grade diatomaceous earth kills pests with exoskeletons and their larvae. It works by dehydrating them because it damages the exoskeleton, resulting in water loss. Most importantly, it’s safe to use around tortoises and won’t harm their skin.

Sticky Paper Traps

Hang sticky paper traps in strategic positions within the enclosure to trap fruit flies, fleas, cockroaches, mites, and other unwelcome bugs and parasitic insects, allowing you to dispose of them later.

Although tortoises don’t attract insects, they may get bugs in their enclosure if it isn’t cleaned regularly.