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From day one of Malti’s and my life together, I knew she needed frequent soaks.
Her breeder told me this by writing it down on the care sheet he handed to me on the day she came home with me.
I also read about it on the internet, along with related topics like tortoise humidity and tortoise hydration.
To this end, I’m not sure now why I got so confused when our first (horrid) vet kept telling me to make her enclosure more arid, since I knew she was a tropical tortoise and I even told the vet she was a tropical tortoise.
But still, she was the vet and I was the novice tortoise keeper, and so likely it was my early rigorous schedule of soaks that kept Malti from experiencing even more serious early life health issues than she already had (you can learn more about this awful experience in this post).
Interestingly, many species of tortoises do practically everything important in the water, although they spend most of their time on the land.
For example, tortoises seek out water to do their bathrooming. They also need to drink regularly…which is why, when you have a captive pet tortoise, you need to make sure you change their water source frequently!
Tortoises also enjoy soaking in the water, or at least they do once they are old enough to come out into the open without attracting a long line of drooling potential predators.
This baby vulnerability is why pet hatchling tortoises in particular often need to be manually (forcibly) soaked on a schedule, just to make sure they stay hydrated enough in their captive situation. In the wild, in their native humid tropical South American forests and grasslands, this likely isn’t an issue.
On a related note, and speaking of bathrooming, tortoises can also sometimes become, well, constipated. When Malti would eat and then eat again and then eat again and still wouldn’t poop, our now-vet would tell me to soak her in warm water.
(This is also why you shouldn’t soak a tortoise right before you will be out of the house for several hours or you are about to take a long trip together.)
Even though Malti is now three and a half years old, I still soak her at least twice or three times per week. I also mist her quite frequently when we are outdoors and it is warm to hot outside to make sure she doesn’t dry out while she is playing and exploring.