“What is this, and why did it come out of my tortoise!!”
This is a common question for newer tortoise keepers, and is an excellent one. We can tell quite a bit about the health of our animals by keeping an eye on feces, urine, and urate output.
Unlike mammals, reptiles like tortoises concentrate the waste products (urates) found in urine. By concentrating and expelling urates, they conserve water needed to remain healthy and hydrated. Many species of tortoise are excellent at water conservation.
In the wild, it is rare to see an arid species of tortoise expelling urine, and some species may hold water in the bladder for years at a time, only releasing it when a plentiful source of fresh water is available to replace it.
Urates are a white, pasty, sometimes chalky, sticky substance, and may be passed with or without scat (stool.)
Let’s Talk a Little BIT About SCAT (Poop)
What goes in, must eventually come out. The items we feed to our tortoises are directly reflected in the scat our tortoises pass. Scat should not have a foul odor, or be excessively wet. Fibers of grasses and forbs eaten should be plainly visible, and after scat is dry, weighs almost nothing. The following images provide a good guide.