People often wonder about using something on their tortoise’s shells- a commercial product like VitaShell, hand lotion, or vegetable or baby oils.There are a lot of commonly publicized pros and cons of the idea, which boil down to:
Most of these points on both sides are pretty much nonsense. Shells do not ‘breathe’ or allow moisture to pass either way, so the lotion or oil does not really help with hydration or interfere with ‘breathing’ much. As far as other claimed benefits or problems- this stuff is basically hand lotion. It is neither hazardous nor magical.
What lotions or oils do accomplish is to plump up the outer layer of cells, and lock in moisture in the outer layers. This is mostly a cosmetic effect although a few keepers insist it really helps their tortoises in various ways. It is worth noting that many of these keepers live in very dry climates.
If you do decide to use an oil or lotion, remember that cheap products like plain white hand lotion, plain vegetable oils, or unscented baby oil do the same thing as more costly, pet-branded products do.
To use any oil or lotion for the best results:
Edited 6-4-2013 (C) Mark Adkins