I've been getting prepared before attaining a new tortoise, and I thought I'd have everything figured out and set up before I get it. A while ago when I was cleaning my turtle's pool I left it to wander through the balcony, I turn to look back at it shortly only to realize it was being swarmed by a lot of ants. I quickly took the turtle rinsed it off and placed it in a bucket with water.

Normally, my turtle is safe from the ants, but I was thinking when I get a tortoise there is no water to protect it. The tortoise probably won't be a juvenile, but I still think the ants can overwhelm it (these little things can probably get anything down with their huge number). The only idea I've gotten so far that doesn't involve getting rid of the ants is to place the tortoise enclosure in a large kiddie pool which I'd fill with water. I still don't find this really efficient and it's frankly rather clumsy.

I really don't want to get rid of these ants but if it was the only way then I might sadly resort to that. I know about putting natural "repellents" like lime on my tortoise's shell but these are temporary and unreliable solutions. If getting rid of the ants is the only sure way then I'd like some methods which don't rely on any chemicals or insecticides.

  • As an alternative to the kiddie pool approach, you could put the enclosure on a table with each table leg in a can of water.
    – augurar
    Sep 18, 2014 at 16:53
  • @augurar that is a great idea, if you can accumulate more info and make it into an answer then that'd be spectacular. For now I'll be sure to try that out, thanks!
    – Mozein
    Sep 18, 2014 at 16:57
  • @Mozein - It would help to know more specifics about the ants, as different solutions work for different ants.
    – JoshDM
    Mar 5 at 6:35

1 Answer 1


If getting rid of the ants is the only sure way then I'd like some methods which don't rely on any chemicals or insecticides.

Food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) is a relatively inexpensive, safe, non-chemical powder that causes ants to desiccate when they pass through it. It is essentially a white powder, almost like talc, made from microscopic, dried diatoms. Harmless to larger creatures unless breathed in when "dusting" with it, it clings to insects via static electricity and cuts them like glass, causing "death by a thousand cuts". "Food grade" indicates it can be consumed harmlessly in a diet; this version is used to de-worm cattle. DE is actively used to deal with flea and bedbug infestations.

DE can be applied via a duster, a brush, sprinkled in areas, or any other means of distributing powder.

To prevent ants, use a brush to "wipe" or "paint" a layer of it across areas on the floor that are a concern, creating a thick, circled line which the ants will not cross (or if they cross, will not survive). If you know where the nest is, toss some on it. Note that while DE is as perpetual as dirt, active moisture does tend to invalidate it.

Avoid the DE alternatives such as "Delta Dust", which is DE mixed with a pesticide.

Here is a video demonstrating how to use DE against ants.

  • Did you tried this yourself? Or is there a book/website discribing a successful usage, you could link to? Mar 5 at 8:56
  • @Allerleirauh Diatomaceous Earth use is common knowledge. I use it around the house as an ant defense.
    – JoshDM
    Mar 5 at 21:15
  • Maybe it is common in your area :) but for me it is the first time I hear about it. This is an international website, an added source would minimum help to research further :) Mar 6 at 5:39
  • @Allerleirauh - I added a video demonstrating how someone uses it to handle ant infestations on plants.
    – JoshDM
    Mar 7 at 15:50

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