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Cosy Tortoises

Innovative Tortoise Housing, Shop, Tortoise Boarding, Ideal Set-Up and Care Information - Established 2007

Cosy Tortoises Blog

March Newsletter is here!


Our March newsletter is now here!


Subscribe to read our Monthly newsletters by clicking on the link at the bottom of the side bar on every website page.


Useful tortoise information and interesting tortoise facts.


This months highlights

  • waking from hibernation tips
  • new products including Rose petals and Hibiscus flowers
  • Information about our new secure payment method
  • All things seeds - because now is the time to get planting tortoise food for 2024!

Cosy Tortoises Tortoise Boarding Service

Cosy Tortoises offers a dedicated boarding service for tortoises.  Providing specialist tortoise housing with access to a heat-lamp connected to dimmer thermostat. Tortoises will be provided with UV light for 12 hours per day. The appropriate UV level specific to the tortoise species will be provided.

For full details please see the Boarding page.

If you wish to go ahead with booking, please make contact with us providing details of your tortoise with dates for boarding.

phone - 01890 818584

Grow your own Tortoise Food - Available to buy easily via our Shop!

The Cosy Tortoises Shop is our new easy way to buy Grow your own Tortoise Food Seeds

New exciting Herb collection and Herb mixes available!

See the Grow your own Tortoise Food section in the Shop

The Cosy Tortoises Shop has a secure payment method

Visa logoMastercard logoAmerican Express logoDiscover logoJCB logoApple Pay logoGoogle pay logo

Alternatively, you can order your Grow your own Tortoise Food Seeds by Contacting us

phone - 01890 818584

Calcium Dust now in stock

Cosy Tortoises Calcium dust now in stock. 

Calcium is an essential part of a tortoises diet, to ensure good bone and shell growth throughout a tortoises life.  Especially important for healthy egg development in females.  Sprinkle over food regularly or ground where your tortoises graze and you grow plants for them. Product sold in tamper-proof containers.

Please visit our online shop to order.

Heating for Tortoises

Heating for Tortoises


Tortoises are cold blooded reptiles and therefore cannot generate heat in their bodies.  They require a heat source in order to be active and thrive.


In their natural habitats tortoises source of heat is from the sun.   Some people think that the top of a tortoises’ shell acts rather like a solar panel.  Tortoises come from many parts of the world where the sunlight is more intense than in the UK, so during the day higher temperatures are normal.  The UK has a temperate, variable weather pattern that is generally too cool for tortoises and lacking in UVA and UVB for most of the year.


Therefore to keep tortoises healthy and capable of digesting food well, it is essential that heating sources are readily available for tortoises at all times (except for in hibernation).


Over time, tortoises will learn to know where the heat source is, so it is a good idea to have a permanent position for the heat lamp.


There are many different types of heat sources available, but in this blog we will only consider ones which are designed for tortoises - dome reflector heat-lamps with Infra Red bulbs connected to a dimmer thermostat.


A dome reflector will direct heat downwards towards the ground rather than heating above and around.  It is paramount that the heat-lamp is fitted with a dimmer thermostat that gradually changes the power to the lamp and maintains the required intensity when established (rather than switching the bulb off when the required temperature is reached).  This will allow you to set up the correct temperature range for your tortoise and provide effective basking.  Heat-lamps can vary in size allowing different sized basking spots of heat on the ground that should be adjusted depending on the size of tortoise.  It may be necessary to have more than one heat-lamp depending on the floor space for where the tortoise is living.


The ground under any heat source should be a material that is not a fire risk with over-heating.  Soil and sand are good, but if a layer is used over a wood layer or other housing material then a heat resistant tile may be used to protect them.  Any soil or sand layer on the floor (substrate) directly under a heat-lamp will heat up and get dry so it is a good idea to wet that area carefully if your tortoises can tolerate a high humidity environment.  Alternatively, changing the substrate directly under a heat-lamp more frequently than the rest may be necessary.


With any set-up, the tortoise will need a cool area that is at least ten degrees lower than their basking temperature.  This will give the tortoise the option to move away from the heat-lamp and choose what temperature they want to be.


Heat-lamps are not suitable for outside use, unless they are protected from wet weather at all times.  Sitting a heat-lamp inside an All-Season House with a Sunroom is ideal.  Heat-lamps should be fitted with a circuit breaker to protect your house electrics in case a fault develops somewhere in the electric circuit.  Ideally you should employ a qualified electrician to put a permanent outdoor socket in your garden beside the tortoise house that has its own dedicated trip fuse.


We would recommend Infra Red (IR) bulbs because the tortoise cannot see Infra Red.  Your tortoise needs heat day and night.  A combined heat and UV bulb can be an issue because the UV should not be on at night time but you still need the heat.  Combined heat and UV bulbs are far more expensive than an IR bulbs and cannot be used with a dimmer thermostat.


Digital thermometers should be used to monitor the temperature at all times preferably with an alarm system that is triggered if the temperature is too high or low.


Finally, it is important to remember that different species of tortoises will have different temperature range requirements.  This is usually based on their natural habitat, so Mediterranean species generally bask between 24-30 degrees C and have a preferred background temperature of around 15 degrees C with an absolute minimum of 10 degrees C.  Tropical tortoises are similar but some species can need a higher basking spot up to about 35 degrees C, but usually require a higher humidity and background temperature above 20 degrees C.  Some African tortoises do well being treated like Tropical tortoises and others that come from drier habitats like Egyptian tortoises require access to high UV and lower humidity (drier) environments, with a greater temperature range to mimic the hotter daytime and cooler overnight temperatures in the desert.

Outdoor Tortoise Runs available in a range of custom colours

This Outdoor Tortoise Run was painted with Willow Paint as requested by a customer.

This is an Add-on Run was intended to fit onto an All-Season House.  So the end panel is missing and one top is slightly shorter to fit in front of the house.

Custom Large Windows House - NEW! Designed with a customer

Custom Large Window All-Season House

The price for this set-up is £1800. A custom made order. For more details please contact Cosy Tortoises.


Refrigeration Hibernation for Tortoises

Refrigeration Hibernation for Tortoises


Refrigeration hibernation is a method that has been used for many years amongst tortoise keepers.


There are both advantages and disadvantages using the refrigeration method.


Refrigeration hibernation can provide a constant temperature throughout the hibernation process whereas increasing variations in our weather make it  difficult to maintain a constant temperature.  Many hibernating species are waking up early in warm patches and then suffering in the inevitable frosts and cold patches before the end of the cold season.  In the case of tortoises that have awoken early, they need to be kept indoors ideally and overwintered carefully.  Use of artificial and natural (through windows) UV light is essential for diet stimulation.  Access to a heatlamp is essential as always.


If you are going to use a fridge it is paramount that the temperature of the fridge can be controlled digitally to the desired temperature for hibernation.  The use of a digital thermometer with a remote probe near the tortoise is wise secondary precaution, ideally with a maximum/minimum feature to monitor any fluctuation in the temperature.


Before you place a tortoise into the fridge it is important to ensure the temperature has stabilised over at least a week.  A good way to achieve this is to fill the shelves with bottles full of water.  Then, remove them from the top shelf to place the tray/tub with the tortoise inside.  If more than one tortoise is being hibernated place them on the next shelf down etc.  This way if the water bottles leak they are below the tortoise(s).


The fridge itself can be considered as a secure area for your tortoises. The tortoises will of course need to go into a ventilated plastic box once inside the fridge to keep them dry.  You can hibernate more than one tortoise in the same fridge providing your fridge is big enough.


The disadvantages will be the cost of buying a fridge, the actual running costs of the fridge itself and the materials needed to maintain/monitor temperature etc.  The fridge should be kept free from food and drinks or anything that could be a cause of mould; bacterial or fungal.  Refrigerators can also take up valuable floor space.  They should ideally be placed in a reasonably quiet, vibration free room that is typically above 10 degrees C.


Although technically, tortoises uses very little oxygen during hibernation, it is paramount that you provide air to the fridge at all times when hibernating the tortoise.  This can be overcome by using a narrow piece of rigid tubing in the seal around the door allowing air to flow from the outside to inside the fridge. Taping can be used to seal any gaps created around the rigid tubing.


Before hibernating, please read our other blog on hibernating tortoises, for preparation tips and how to check on your hibernating tortoise.


Simple Hibernation Tips for Tortoises

Simple Hibernation Tips for Tortoises:



Hibernation is a natural and essential part of a tortoises’s life.


Not all tortoises can be hibernated.  Tropical tortoises such as Redfoots, Indian Stars and several African species must not be hibernated because they don’t need to in their natural habitat.


Before commencing the hibernation process, always seek a health check with your reptile specialist vets.


Never hibernate tortoises that have been ill within the last 12 months.


Never hibernate a tortoise that is under-weight. There are a few weight charts that are available to determine if a tortoise is under-weight.  For example the Jackson Ratio for Hermann and Spur-Thigh Tortoises only, and the Macintyre ratio for Horsefield tortoises only.  The best way is to weigh your tortoises at least monthly, so you will know if they are underweight after eating well all summer.  Of course, worms can mean a tortoise can weigh deceptively heavy.  Worming should be carried out at least 6 weeks prior to starvation.


It is important not to feed a tortoise 2 to 4 weeks before hibernation depending on their age.  Weighing them every few days until their weight stops reducing, will give you a good indication when their gut is empty.  They must still have access to water as usual.  Most tortoises stop eating of their own accord in preparation for hibernation.


Use a dry box that is well ventilated with a secure lid.  Place insulation like unprinted shredded paper that allows plenty airflow inside (don’t pack it too tightly and make sure there are no small/dust particles for the tortoise to breathe accidentally).  Another box should be placed inside this box with the tortoise inside.  Again well ventilated.  Always use a digital temperature probe that can record the temperature inside the tortoises’ box.  You can buy digital thermometers that will connect to your phone with a good Wifi connection.


Keep box in a cool dry secure area away from heating and windows particular in direct sunlight.  Keep dry at all times.   A garage or shed can be ideal, but they must be protected from frost.  Ideal hibernation temperature range is between 3 to 5 degrees C.  If the temperature falls below zero there is a risk of permanent damage or death.  Too warm will use up vital food storage in the tortoise's body.


Hibernation normally last for approximately 12 weeks (temperature dependant).


During hibernation check your tortoise weekly.  Weigh your tortoise weekly too.  5% weight loss indicates that your tortoise is losing too much weight and will be need to be removed from hibernation.


Female tortoises that may be carrying eggs must never be hibernated until you are fully certain that there are no more eggs to lay.  It is also recommended that young hatchlings are not hibernated in the first year.


If in any doubt about the health of your tortoise, always seek the professional advise of a reptile specialist vet.  At the end of the hibernation period it is a good idea to have a check-up anyway.

Large Custom Tortoise Table

Large Custom Tortoise Table with removable front polycarbonate window.  Dimensions 1 m x 1.4 m.  Please contact us for further information.


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