Village Vets Centre Liverpool 0151 428 8600 0151 428 8600
Village Vets  Centre Liverpool   0151 428 8600   0151 428 8600

Terrapins, Tortoises and Turtles

Terrapins, tortoises and turtles are collectively referred to as chelonians and have been popular pets in the UK for more than a century. There are many different species to choose from, each with their own specific advantages and disadvantages. They are complex creatures to care for and historically care was very poor with many of them dying at only a few years old - this is a serious problem when some of them are capable of living for over 100 years! The majority of those sold as pets are bred in captivity as there are a lot of laws regulating imported animals. Common pet species include Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni), Spur-thighs (Testudo graeca), Horsefield's tortoise (Testudo horsfieldii)  and Red-Eared terrapins (Trachemys scripta elegans). We are extremely experienced in the care and ownership of these pets and are happy to advise anyone from first-time owners to experienced handlers on the best care for their pet.


We offer a chelonian microchipping service at our practice. A microchip is a small glass chip roughly the size of a grain of rice. Every chip has a unique code associated with it that is registered to your pet on a national database. The chip is scanned with a special machine to identify its code and this can be used to find the registered owner's name and address. This is invaluable to reunite you if your pet is ever lost, injured or stolen. 


Your pet would have a quick injection of a local anaesthetic to allow us to implant the chip painlessly. Once the chip is implanted, we will ask for your details to be uploaded onto the database, however, if you change address or ownership of the pet, it is ESSENTIAL that you inform the database holders.

Chelonian Problems

Whilst they make great pets, chelonians also take up a lot of time - they need a good diet, heat sources, suitable substrate, exercise as well as access to UV light. This can be expensive to both set up and maintain and getting the correct advice is sometimes challenging in itself.


We are very happy to advise you on the correct housing, diet and care requirements of your pet chelonian and can provide you with information sheets should you require them. Requirements can vary greatly depending on the species you have chosen to keep.


Common problems we see in chelonians are often associated with incorrect housing or diet, such things include:

  • Obesity or anorexia
  • Pneumonia
  • Vitamin A, Vitamin D or calcium deficiency and metabolic disease
  • Kidney and liver disease
  • Abscesses, burns and wounds
  • Eye diseases
  • Foreign bodies
  • Shell ulceration
  • Impaction and prolapses
  • Egg-binding or ovarian stasis
  • Parasites, bacterial, fungal or viral infections

Chelonian Consultation

During consultations, questions we will ask about your pet include:



  • Has your pet ever been tested, or treated for worms or other parasites?
    • Bring a sample of faeces with you to your consultation (the fresher the better).
      • OR
    • Send a sample to PALS, a laboratory which is experienced in testing for reptile diseases and ask them to send us a copy of the report. Find them at:
  • Have you ever seen mites on your pet or treated them for mites?



  • Do you keep your pet in a vivarium, tank, table or pen?
  • What is their housing made from and how is it constructed?
  • How long, wide and high is it (inches or centimetres)?
  • What do you have on the floor?
    • Nothing
    • Paper/cardboard /reptile carpet
    • Wood chip
    • Hemp
    • Sawdust/ wood shavings
    • Walnut shells
    • Coir (coconut fibre)
    • Sand (what type?)
    • Gravel
    • Sand/soil (50/50 mix)



  • Do you use just a light bulb? A heat mat? Both together?
  • If you use a heat mat:
    • How big is it?
    • What is the wattage?
    • Where do you have it?
  • Do you use a ceramic heater system?
  • Do you have the heaters/heat mats /bulb connected to a thermostat?
    • This controls the temperature in the same way central heating systems are controlled.
  • What is the temperature:
    • At the hot end?
    • At the cold end? 



  • What lights do you have in it?
    • For example, do you use a basking/heat lamp only or do you use additional sources?
  • If you have a UV light is it a long straight one or a curly “compact“ one?
  • How high above your pet’s favourite sunbathing spot is it?
  • Does it produce just UVA only, UVB only or UVA and UVB?
    • This can be a difficult question to answer.
    • If you know the make of the bulb and the number it has, let us know. For example, Reptile 10.0 UVB means that it produces 10% of its light as UVB.
      • OR
    • If you're not sure, bring the bulb or its packaging with you as it may be written on them.
  • How old is the bulb?
    • As lights get older the amount of UVB produced is reduced even though the light still looks normal.
    • If you bring the bulb in we can measure the UVB levels. PLEASE NOTE: The bulb has to be left with us for a few hours.
  • How many hours in the day do you have the light on?


For more information regarding UV lighting for reptiles click here:



  • How do you provide water to your pet?
  • How do you feed your pet?
    • What kinds of food do you feed?
    • How often?
  • Do you use a calcium supplement?
    • Which one?
    • How often and how do you give it?
    • How much do you give?
    • When did you start giving this?


Humidity levels:

  • Do you use a fogger?
    • How many times a day?
    • For how long?
  • Can you measure the relative humidity?
    •  How humid is it as a percentage?


The above list does not indicate approval of these methods nor disapproval of things not included in the list, this depends very much on which species you are keeping. Our practice DOES NOT sell any of the above equipment and DOES NOT have any association with pet shops who may sell it. Advice and opinions are given on a case by case basis, we advise people to do some research themselves.


For example:

Try the combinations 'wood chip' 'reptile' and 'death' in any search engine. Also try 'reptile' 'sand' and 'death.'

Diagnostic Testing in Chelonians

Very often we need to take x-rays and blood tests of chelonians. There are many reasons why testing may be necessary, for more information visit our laboratory testing page. All these costs add up and we advise clients to look at insurance for their chelonians. Look at exotic direct:

Diagnostic Testing Reptiles.doc
Microsoft Word document [126.0 KB]


Contact the practice directly if you require an emergency appointment during opening hours. If you need help urgently out of hours, please refer to the emergency veterinary cover list.


Opening Hours

Monday        09.00 - 18.00

Tuesday       09.00 - 18.00

Wednesday   09.00 - 18.00

Thursday      09.00 - 18.00

Friday           09.00 - 18.00

Saturday       09.00 - 12.00

Village Vets Centre Ltd

65 Quarry St  


L25 6EZ

Tel.: 0151 428 8600


In case of emergency, please call:

Tel.: 0151 428 8600

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© Village Vets Centre Ltd 2014