A HEREFORDSHIRE vets has held a rise-and-shine party for tortoises, giving dozens of them a health check after their winter slumber.

Leadon Vale Veterinary Centre in Lower Road Trading Estate, Ledbury, held the event to ensure the tortoises, which hibernate over the winter months, were in fine fettle after waking.

Owners of 30 tortoises took their pets in for checks at the practice.

The vets also offered advice to owners on how to ensure their tortoises could enjoy a healthy summer.

Rachel Mowbray, clinical director at Leadon Vale, said: “We held an extremely popular ‘pyjama party’ ahead of tortoise hibernations last year, when we ensured they were all in peak physical condition for their winter sleep.

“Now, as they re-awaken for the spring and summer, it’s equally important for them to undergo a full health check-up to ensure they are still in prime condition and ready to enjoy what we all hope will be much warmer and lighter days ahead.

“It was great to see such a strong turn-out at the event, and even better to see so many fighting-fit tortoises.”

According to the Blue Cross Animal Sanctuary, one of the main causes of health problems and death in pet tortoises is inadequate hibernation

As the weather is not suitable for tortoises to live outside all year round, owners need to provide them with the right temperature and humidity so they can thrive.

The sanctuary's website says: "A rigorous preparation period has to be followed to make the tortoises ready for hibernation.

"Before hibernating, tortoises should not be fed for a period of time.

"This depends on the tortoise’s size in comparison to the mature adult size for the species.

"Before beginning hibernation, tortoises should be kept in an ambient temperature of 13C to make sure that their food is properly digested.

"Undigested food can ferment in their stomachs during hibernation and make them very unwell, so this is an important step."