Services for Tortoises

  • Health Checks

    Even though it is not necessary to vaccinate your pet tortoise it is a good idea to schedule routine health checks for your pet. Like many other ‘exotic’ pets your tortoise may only show obvious signs of illness when they become very ill,  so by the time your pet looks sick the disease may be very advanced.

    At a regular check our vet will discuss the general management, environment and diet of your pet as 90% of the problems a tortoise will develop are generally due to a problem in one of these categories.

    Infectious disease is quite rare in captive tortoises in Hong Kong.

    In the wild a tortoise can generally move to the environment which suits it the most, but in captivity the owner must provide everything it needs in its tank.

    The specific needs of your pet tortoise depend upon which species it is. Accurately identifying the species of your tortoise is very important. If you are unsure about the species you own please book an appointment and bring your pet for a health check.

    During the consultation we may be able to identify your tortoise for you, but if not we will take photographs and send them to other experts who can provide further help with identification.

    We would normally recommend yearly health checks for your tortoise in order to review the husbandry and management of your pet. Tortoises can often look ‘normal’ even when they are sick therefore our vets may also suggest further diagnostic tests like x-rays or blood testing.  If we suspect your tortoise has a problem we can hopefully treat the problems before they become too serious for your pet.

    Older Tortoise Health Checks.

    If your animal is very old and becoming frail, or has specific healthcare needs, your vet may suggest more frequent checks.

    We would normally recommend yearly health checks for your tortoises in order to review the husbandry and management of your pet. Tortoises can often look ‘normal’ even when they are sick therefore our vets may also suggest further diagnostics like x-rays or blood testing if we suspect your tortoise has a problem, so that we can hopefully treat the problems before they become serious for your pet.

    As some species can live to be very, very old (for example over 50 years for sulcatas and up to 175 years for aldabras ) and get very, very big ( up to 100 kg for sulcatas and  over 300 kg for aldabras ) you should think carefully before taking one on !

  • Nutritional Advice

    What to feed your tortoise is not a subject which is easy to generalise on, there are many variables! Getting the diet correct needs an understanding of the individual’s nutritional requirements, an understanding of how the environment affects nutritional requirements, as well as a basic understanding of food chemistry, vitamins and minerals. This can be very complicated.

    These are not dietary “preferences”- they are dietary essentials.

    We cannot stress this enough: learn about the real needs of the species you keep and try to understand the reasons why it has those needs, and then try to find out how best you can meet them.

    Variety

    In the wild, tortoises tend to be browsers. They wander over quite a wide area and in the process take small quantities of a very wide variety of seasonally available food. Some species are known to consume up to 200 different kinds of plants during the year. The exact combination of plants, and their status, young, fresh and succulent or old and dry, varies seasonally.

    The tortoise’s diet changes continually throughout the year, from a fairly high moisture and protein content in spring, to a very dry, and often lower protein content later on in Autumn and winter.

    It can be difficult for them to find enough food, and they may need to walk all day, looking for a bite here and a bite there.

    By wandering over a wide area, and by consuming such a variety of foods, tortoises should have a well-balanced diet with all the essential mineral trace elements that they require for reproduction and healthy bone development.

    Even the best captive diets tend to be very restricted when compared to these natural feeding patterns.

    One of the most common mistakes to only feed the favourite food  !

    Commercial tortoise diets

    There are number of ‘complete tortoise diets’ available in pet stores which are in ‘cups’, ‘soft pellets’ and ‘dry pellet’ forms. These are advertised as complete, or almost complete, solutions to all of your tortoise nutrition concerns.

    Compared to the wild diet these diets are still generally too high in protein, may have high sugar levels and inadequate amounts of fibre, but can be a useful source of vitamins and minerals.

    We do not recommend that you feed your tortoise only on these products but as an addition to a hay, grass and vegetable diet. If you would like to feed these products please speak to our vets in a consultation and they will give you advice on the proportions to feed to balance your tortoise’s diet.

    Feeding Grassland Tortoises:

    This would include the Mediterranean tortoises (Testudo species), Desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii), the Russian tortoise (Testudo horsfieldii), Indian Star (Geochelone elegans), large savannah species such as Geochelone sulcata (African spurred tortoise), Geochelone pardalis (Leopard tortoise) and the Aldabra (Aldabrachelys gigantea).

    These tortoises are herbivores. Wild tortoises do not eat meat, other than on a very rare and opportunistic basis. It is not a regular part of their diet. Fruit is rarely found on a grassland too !

    In captivity their diet should be high in fibre, low protein and calcium rich to ensure good digestive tract function and smooth shell growth.

    To provide the high fibre needed we recommend feeding a diet based on a mix of hay and grasses. This would include timothy hay, natural grass and home grown lawn grass. General ‘meadow hay’ and ‘orchard hay’ mixes are also suitable.

    It is best to avoid the use of excessively ‘prickly’ seed heads as they can injure mouths and eyes so to prevent this problem we recommend ‘Timothy Gold’ hay which is ‘second cut’ and tends to have less spiny heads than first cut. There is also a salad mix available of short hay pieces which is ideal.

    Ideally this hay based primary diet should be supplemented with grasses and flowers as frequently as possible. Grasses, clover, hibiscus and dandelion can be easily grown in Hong Kong in pots on a balcony or roof. De-spined Opuntia (cactus) pads are sometimes available from the reptile shops in Hong Kong and can also be offered.

    Healthy greens can also be offered in smaller quantities, this would include Plantain, Chinese lettuce, Indian lettuce, romaine lettuce, escarole, carrot tops, coriander and parsley.  Do not use head lettuces such as iceberg, as these contain very little in the way of vitamins, fiber or minerals.

    Commercial ‘Grassland Tortoise’ food can be soaked and added to vegetable mixes.

    Restricted greens and vegetables– bok choi, choi sum, spinach, broccoli and other greens may be offered but only in small quantities once to twice per week. If given in excess they can inhibit calcium absorption and can cause health problems.

    Calcium and Vitamin/Mineral Supplementation:

    Tortoises have quite a high demand for calcium in their diets, especially when growing fast or laying eggs. Such animals may seek out extra calcium to meet these needs. If it is not available, they can rapidly suffer deficiencies.

    Tortoises tend to be found in regions where the soils are rich in calcium and other essential trace elements.  The wild grasses have a higher calcium level than the supermarket vegetables we buy.

    They also have free access to sunlight for basking. Natural sunlight contains UV-B radiation which changes vitamin D into its active form vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 helps the body absorb calcium from the food, so if there is not enough, the calcium will not be absorbed and the bones and shell will not develop properly.

    We prefer that the D3 is supplied by natural methods, ie by UVB light, but as the UVB light bulbs are unreliable (unless the output is monitored) we recommend the use of a good quality phosphorus freeCalcium and vitamin D3 supplement. This will vary from once a week to once a day depending on the diet, lighting and the age of the animal.

    Some pure calcium should be added to the food every day and a vitamin/mineral supplement should be added once per week.

    The use of a cuttlefish bone or calcium block left in the enclosures allows tortoises to regulate the amount of calcium in the diet. Some tortoises like this very much, while others will refuse to eat it.

    What to avoid:

    Fruit should be given very sparingly or not at all as it frequently leads to diarrhea, intestinal parasite proliferation, and colic.

    Try to avoid a diet based upon ‘supermarket salad’. This will not offer adequate fiber, and tends to be poor in essential trace elements and other nutrients. Some greens are great to  chop and mix in with hay to encourage the appetite.

    High protein foods should be avoided. ‘Grassland’ type tortoises fed on cat or dog food, or other high protein food items such as peas or beans, frequently die from renal failure or from impacted bladder stones. Peas and beans are also very high in phytic acid, which also inhibits calcium uptake.

    Root vegetables are far too high in carbohydrates so should be avoided.

    If at all possible allow your grassland tortoises to forage and graze naturally as this helps the tortoise to maintain good digestive-tract health, reduces the production of bladder stones, keeps them strong and slim, and keeps them happy ! .

    If you have any questions about the suitability of your current diet for your pet tortoise and what supplementation is needed, please contact us to schedule a consultation.

  • Husbandry Advice

    It is very important to correctly identify the species of your pet tortoise in order for you to research and learn how they live in the wild so you can create the best environment possible for them in your own home.

    If you are unsure about the species you own please book an appointment and bring your pet in for a health check. During the consultation we may be able to identify it for you, but if not we will take photographs and send them to experts who can help with identification.

    As the environment you keep your pet tortoise in is very important to its health our vet will need to ask many details about the tank/enclosure, to make it easier and more accurate please bring in some photographs of your tortoises living environment.

    Tortoise Housing:

    There are many types of enclosures available to keep your pet tortoise in. In Hong Kong many owners purchase ‘vivariums’ or fish tanks to house their tortoises, unfortunately these are not ideal.

    Vivariums:

    The glass vivariums often sold by pet shops and reptile shops are not good for housing your pet tortoise for a number of reasons.

    Tortoises are from arid environments where the air humidity is low and generally do not do well long term in enclosed environments. Despite the fact that some vivariums have ventilation holes or ventilation mesh at the top, air cannot fully circulate. This may lead to a build-up or reduction of humidity over a long period which may affect the tortoise’s health.

    In addition, tortoises do like to roam and the floor space within a vivarium is not large enough for the tortoise to get adequate exercise as it grows.

    Vivariums that have higher sides than floor area are best suited to other reptiles which prefer to climb   (such as geckos)

    Due to the confines and the small  floor space of an enclosed vivarium it is generally impossible to provide a proper temperature gradient for your tortoise, this makes proper thermoregulation impossible to achieve and invariably the tortoise will suffer if kept this way for a long time.

    Fish Tanks:

    With the limited space available in many Hong Kong apartments an appropriate sized fish tank can be adapted to be acceptable while your tortoise is still small, but depending on the size of your tank and the species of tortoise you have they may rapidly outgrow it.

    It is important to make sure that the lighting does not overheat or dry out a small tank.

    Tortoise Table:

    If you have the space the best type of enclosure to keep your tortoise in is a ‘Tortoise Table’. Tortoise tables are generally made out of wood; they have a flat floor, sides high enough to prevent the tortoise climbing out and an open top.

    Some of the reptile shops in Mong Kok do now sell ‘tortoise tables’ but it is also easy and cheaper to make one yourself.  You may use an old bookcase turned on its back with the shelves taken out or plastic under bed storage boxes.  (we would suggest one like “ Billy” bookcases from Ikea such the 80 x 106  cm Ikea number  001.698.24)

    If you do use an under bed storage box the sides must be opaque. Tortoises don’t understand the concept of glass or materials they can see through and they will constantly try to ‘walk’ through which can cause undue stress. Therefore it is better to cover the outer sides with material which is not clear (such as cardboard)

    Please search on the internet for designs of ‘tortoise tables’ or look under www.tortoisetrust.org

    Size of enclosure:

    As a general guide, if you use a fish tank it should be a MINIMUM of 6 times the length of your tortoise and at least 3 times the width. Please remember that your cute little juvenile tortoise will grow quickly.

    Ideally if you purchase a fish tank to house a new juvenile tortoise it should be at least 30cm wide by 90cm long to allow for some growth of your pet.

    If making a ‘Tortoise Table’ the minimum size should be 100cm by 60cm, this is generally suitable for hatchlings and juvenile tortoises.

    Adult tortoises should also be kept in an area a minimum of 6 to 10 times their length and 3 to 5 times their width. As most of the commonly kept tortoise species reach an adult size of about 20cm to 30cm this would mean that their enclosure should be 2 m to 3 m long!

    This is obviously quite impractical in most Hong Kong apartments so owners need to think about how they are going to house their tortoises once they reach adulthood.

    In most cases your adult tortoise will need to be provided with its own room to walk around in or access to a roof of garden.

    Please do not purchase a baby African spurred (Geochelone sulcata) tortoise or Aldabra tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantean) if you are not prepared to move to an apartment with either a roof or ideally a garden.

    Substrate/Flooring Material:

    There are many options available for the flooring material in your tortoise enclosure. However we recommend using a material which can be fully replaced or cleaned very easily.  With full replacement you reduce the ability of parasites to complete their lifecycle this can reduce or eliminate the need for regular de-worming.

    In most circumstances paper (newspaper) is a very versatile and useful material as a substrate for tortoises, but still be aware that it does not provide any opportunities to create a humid microclimate.

    Also paper materials such as ‘Carefresh’ and ‘Eco Bedding’ can be used but are more expensive.

    Timothy Hay is a good substrate which can be found in our shop as well as most rabbit pet shops.

    There are number of soils and sands that can be used but care must be taken when using them to make sure they are not ingested as may lead to impactions. It is generally advised to use a play sand/loam mixture but these substrates can be difficult to purchase in Hong Kong. If you would like to provide a soil based substrate please look on the Tortoise Trust web-site for further advise.

    Please DO NOT use:

    We do not advise using wood shavings as they are very drying, dusty and irritant and again your tortoise may eat them which can lead to impactions.

    100% Alfalfa pellets used to be recommended but have been found to be drying, (reducing humidity)  and when eaten can cause problems due to the high protein content.

    Calci-Sand is prone to clumping, can cause eye irritation, can lead to gut impaction when ingested and is again very drying to your tortoise’s environment.

    Fibre-based substrates are generally based upon coconut and similar fibres. It can also be very dusty and if too wet is an ideal substrate for the growth of moulds and bacteria.

    Bark chippings/mulch can sometimes be used to replicate a tropical habitat but may include pine or cedar chippings which can be toxic. The mulch is an ideal base for mites and parasites and when ingested is often fatal.

    You can make the environment more interesting for your tortoises by adding large flattish stones to allow for some climbing, will help create some microclimates and may help keep your tortoises nails trim.   Make sure they are too big to swallow !

    Also make sure to add ‘hiding’ areas or dens in different areas of the enclosure, these can either be made of cardboard, wood or plastic. These hiding areas provide your tortoise with some privacy but can also help create a microclimate. Many tortoise enjoy having ‘Eco-bedding’ placed in the hide areas as it then gives them something safe to burrow into.

    Water Requirements:

    In the wild tortoises generally spend most of their time on land and only normally go near water to drink but some species of tortoises like the Red-footed tortoise of South America  (Chelonoidis carbonaria) do actually like to sit in pools of water on hot days.

    Even though your desert species tortoise like the African Spurred Tortoise (Geochelone sulcata) only has limited access to water in the wild, it can still control its own ‘microclimate’ through its behavior e.g. digging burrows. Therefore in captivity desert species must still be provided with water and soaked on a regular basis.

    Within your tortoise’s environment you should provide a water bowl large enough for your tortoise to climb into. Fill it with water deep enough so that if your tortoise climbs inside it can easily drink but don’t fill it any more than above its nose to prevent your tortoise accidently drowning.

    Soaking your Tortoise:

    We also advise that you ‘soak’ your tortoise to provide extra water. Many owners ask will ask why?  If they have a desert tortoise why do they need to provide it extra water?

    The reason tortoise owners need to soak their tortoise is because in the wild tortoises can set up their own microclimate. They do this by burrowing under leaves, hiding in bushes, digging shallow holes, digging deep holes and actually digging underground tunnels which in the case of the African spurred tortoise can be up to 10 feet long. Under the leaves and in the holes the humidity is much higher than the general humidity out in the open.

    In a tortoise tank the humidity can become very low due to having to use a heat lamp to provide the high temperatures necessary and there being nowhere your tortoise can go to find an area with higher humidity.  This is why it is possible for tortoises kept in captivity to become dehydrated even in Hong Kong’s humid atmosphere. For example a young tortoise, in a small, hot tank, bedded on alfalfa pellets could become dehydrated in less than 24 hours. (This is partially due to its relatively larger surface area to body weight ratio and the drying effect of the heat light, alfalfa pellets and the poor ventilation)

    If a tortoise is chronically dehydrated then there are many health problems which may develop, including renal failure, ‘stones’ in their bladders and constipation.

    For young tortoises we advise that they MUST be soaked EVERY day to prevent dehydration problems, as well as being in an environment which has some areas with a higher humidity.

    On the internet most tortoise advice sites will advise that you only need to soak an adult tortoise once per week, but in our experience here in the Hospital this is often not enough and even with weekly soaking we still see many tortoises develop ‘stones’ in their bladder and need surgery to remove them.

    This may be due to the combination of the dehydration, lack of exercise and not enough fiber in the diet.

    Therefore we strongly advise that you soak adult tortoises every day, provide as much exercise as possible and make sure they are eating the correct diet!

    Temperatures:

    Tortoises, like all reptiles, are ‘cold blooded’. This means they do not generate their own body heat and must be provided with external sources of heat in order for them to regulate their own body temperature. To allow your tortoise to effectively regulate its body temperature you need to provide what is called a ‘temperature gradient’. This means that part of the enclosure should be warmer than the rest (the hot spot) so your tortoise can move around to the area where the temperature is correct for its needs at that time of the day. The range should be built around the tortoise’s POTZ (preferred optimal temperature zone.)

    Basking in sunlight is the tortoise’s natural source of heat.  Equally desert tortoises will dig a burrow, or seek out an area of shelter from the sun to find a cooler area.

    As such your tortoise enclosure should be designed with this temperature regulation in mind. There should be a hot area- an area for basking under a high powered light. Depending upon species the temperatures may be quite hot – 32’C or even as high as 38-40’C.

    To create the temperature gradient we normally recommend positioning a light bulb or a special ‘heat’ light in one corner or end of the enclosure. The light or heater should have a power rating of >50 watts. This measure of power in watts determines how much electricity is used by the light, and how much energy is finally converted into heat. The higher the power rating the hotter your light or heater will be.

    In our Retail Pet Shop we sell lights and heaters of 50, 60, 75, 100 and 125 watts to meet the needs of your pet tortoise.

    The exact temperature requirement for your tortoise will depend on the species of your tortoise but in general we recommend a gradient of about 24 C up to 32 C.

    Remember that if your tortoise lives in a tank in your apartment do not place its tank close to the air conditioning in order to prevent the air becoming chilled.

    Too close to the window may result in overheating on a sunny day.

    Lighting:

    As well as possibly using a light to provide heat you will also need to provide ultraviolet (UV) light for your tortoise.

    Many animals, humans included, need some ultraviolet (UV) light on their skin.  This is used by the body to produce and activate some vitamins.  For many animals their skin is very sensitive to UV light, and over exposure can cause problems such as burning or even skin cancer.  However reptiles such as your tortoise have adapted to bask in strong sunlight for long periods of time, and as such are very resistant to UV light.  So for their vitamin activation needs, they need much more UV light.

    We cannot see in the UV range, but as with all light there are different wavelengths and different ‘colours’.  The UV spectrum is divided into 3 areas. UVA, UVB and UVC.

    UVA is the closest to visible light in wavelength and properties. UVC is furthest from our visible range and closer in wavelength and properties to harmful radiation such as X-rays, is dangerous to living animals, and can cause cell damage.

    The range required by the skin for activation of vitamins is UVB.  This is important as many lights which claim to produce UV light, may only generate UVA.

    A proper UVB light is an important addition to the housing setup for your tortoise. There are many different types of UVB light which may state different UVB outputs.

    In our Pet Retail Stop we stock UVB fluorescent tubes as well as compact bulbs which emit UVB of different strengths. We also have mercury vapour lamps which produce both heat and UVB.

    The UVB light must be positioned within 30 cm of your tortoise for it to absorb enough UVB.

    We recommend you change the UVB lights every 6 months to ensure that your tortoise is receiving adequate UVB.

    If you have any questions about the equipment you have, or the equipment you need for your pet, please book to see one of our vets. During the consultation please bring along any lights you have already purchased for the vet determine if they are suitable or not.

    If you already have a UVB light please bring it along to the consultation, we have a UVB meter which we can use to check the UVB output to make sure it is adequate.

    As you can read from above keeping a pet tortoise is not ‘easy’. Frequently owners find that they have to spend just as much money providing the correct environment for their pet as they do on purchasing it.

    If you live in an apartment we do not recommend that you keep the larger species of tortoises such as the African spurred tortoise (Geochelone sulcata) or the Aldabra tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantean). These species need a large amount of space to roam and should only be kept if you can provide them with a large suitable outside area where they can exercise daily.

  • De-Sexing Surgeries

    We do not normally recommend routine de-sexing for tortoises, but we do often recommend it when there has been a problem diagnosed with a tortoise’s ovaries or uterus.

    Tortoises can develop a medical problem known as ‘ovarian stasis’.  In this condition the ovary develops large follicles which resemble the yolks of eggs, but does not then develop these into eggs or pass them.  With this condition this yolk material can sit in the body cavity for many years, and often leaks and causes inflammation of the body cavity (peritonitis) which can make your tortoise very sick.  If ovarian stasis is identified your vet will recommend surgical removal of these abnormal ovaries.

    In Hong Kong most female tortoises in captivity don’t regularly pass eggs, but if yours does and starts laying eggs at abnormal times, lays unusual numbers of eggs, or stops laying eggs it is possible your tortoise may have ovarian stasis or may have eggs stuck in their uterus.

    Often the only sign shown when your tortoise has these problems is a lack of appetite!

    To diagnose these problems our veterinarians will need to perform blood tests, to see if there are problems in any of the other body organs, perform x-rays (to see if there are any eggs with shells in the uterus) and perform an ultrasound examination to identify any large follicles on the ovaries.

    If de-sexing surgery is needed to correct your tortoise’s problem our vet will perform the surgery assisted with an endoscope. An endoscope is a very small camera and light source which helps our vets perform surgery through small holes.

    In these de-sexing cases our vet will make an incision into the tortoise’s body cavity through the skin in front of her hind leg and then use the endoscope to examine her body cavity, ovaries and uterus.  Occasionally the shell may need to be opened up for access. Depending on her exact problem our vet will then remove the ovaries and follicles or operate on her uterus. During the surgery our vets will also normally insert a feeding tube into your tortoise to ensure she can be provided with the correct nutrition to aid her recovery.

    Most tortoises do recover quite quickly after this surgery and within a few weeks are back to normal.

    If you are worried please schedule a consultation with your vet.

  • Preventative Care

    There are no vaccines available for tortoises and as these pets are normally housed in small stable groups with little contact with other animals there is normally no need for routine preventative medical treatments.

    De-worming:

    De-worming be required especially if your tortoise was ‘wild caught’ and not ‘captive bred’.

    Wild caught tortoises can carry many types of parasites however de-worming programs are normally tailored specifically for individual animals or groups. Our vets are very happy to discuss with you what they would recommend during a consultation.

    If your pet tortoise was wild caught, purchased from an unhygienic crowded reptile shop it may be carrying a more varied and more significant parasite burden. The signs of parasite load are variable and include poor weight gain, soft feces and in severe cases can cause generalized fluid buildup (oedema) or even intestinal blockage.

    If you or your vet suspects a high parasite burden a more aggressive de-worming program may be needed, as well as medical treatment, environmental cleaning and possibly changes in management.

    Hibernation:

    There are some species of reptiles from cooler regions of the world that in winter will slow down, stop eating and sleep for long periods.  This is known as hibernation.

    Some tortoises are adapted for this e.g.Greek spur-thighed tortoises (Testudo graeca) but some are not e.g. African spurred tortoises (Geochelone sulcata).

    For this reason it is important as a pet owner that you know the species of your pet tortoise and understand its physiologic needs.

    Common species that are sold in Hong Kong which DO NOT hibernate are the African spurred tortoise (Gechelone sulcata), Leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) and the Hingeback tortoises (Kinixys sp) which all therefore must be provided with proper heated accommodation during the Hong Kong winters.

    For species that DO hibernate it is advisable to NOT hibernate hatchlings and juveniles less than 2 years old and tortoises that have recently been sick. Hibernating tortoises properly is a complex & difficult job and should not be attempted without much research & specialized equipment.  If you wish to hibernate your tortoise we would advise a health check in the early autumn in the run up to hibernation.

    If you choose not to do this, then keep your tortoise warm during the winter

    If your tortoise is one that does NOT normally ‘hibernate’ in the wild but in captivity it appears to and does not eat for a long period of time, it may be because it has a medical problem as should brought for a consultation as soon as possible.

    Hibernation is not truly necessary, other than for breeding, even for the tortoises that do normally hibernate in the wild.

    Studies are currently underway, but evidence so far points to the fact that tortoises which would normally hibernate in the wild, can be kept  warm and ‘awake’ all year round. If they are kept in the correct environment and fed the correct diet then they should live to their normal species lifespan.

    If you are unsure if your pet should or could hibernate please speak to our vets during a consultation.

  • Hospitalization

    Here at Tai Wai Small Animal and Exotics Hospital we are committed to providing the highest level of care for your tortoise and therefore we have a specially designed ‘Hot Ward’ in order to hospitalize your tortoise and other reptiles under the best conditions.

    If your tortoise requires special care, for example so we can provide close monitoring before and after surgery, or to provide fluid or food support when they are ill, then our vet may recommend your pet staying in hospital.

    In our hospital in the past we have comfortably hospitalised from 25 gram hatchling African spurred tortoises (Geochelone sulcata) up to large 65 kg adults.

    In our ‘Hot Ward’ we have a variety of cages, tanks and spas as well as all the necessary additional equipment, lighting and heating, in order for us to provide the ideal environment to support your tortoises recovery.

  • Salmonella

    At Tai Wai Small Animal and Exotics Hospital we understand the bond pet owners feel to their tortoises, but if you are going to cuddle them there are a few precautions you must take!

    It is important to remember that some animals may carry diseases which could make you significantly ill.  In the case of reptiles it is the bacteria Salmonella which has the most potential to cause serious problems.

    The Salmonella bacterium is a normal inhabitant of the gut of reptiles and does not cause disease in its host. It can however cause serious disease, including severe gastro-enteritis in other animals including humans.

    To reduce the risk of disease we recommend basic hygiene precautions are taken:

    Always wash your hands after handling your tortoise or its enclosure.

    Use an antibacterial soap preparation (and / or alcohol gel preparation).

    Do not kiss your pet tortoise (no matter how gorgeous they may be).

    When washing the cage use an appropriate disinfectant solution – 10% bleach can be used – but please rinse very well.

    Wear gloves when handling faeces.

    Supervise any children.  They may not follow such precautions, and may be at higher risk of disease.

    We do not advise a tortoise as a pet for children under the age of 5 years old.

    Older children must be supervised during any handling and basic hygiene practiced afterwards.

    Please keep your tortoise away from any food preparation areas. For example do not keep your tortoise in the kitchen or allow it to walk around on any surfaces in the kitchen

We have different consultation fees depending on your pet and the situation.

Please call:
Tai Wai Small Animal & Exotic Hospital : 2687 1030 (9 am - 9 pm)
Island Exotics 2858 9388 (9 am - 7 pm)

Please only call out of these hours if there is a real emergency , to keep our night staff free to save lives.

Please inform our receptionists how many pets you will bring as each animal needs its own consultation.