My Tortoise Keeps Trying to Climb the Walls

Speckled Cape Tortoise

Written by Lisa

When not researching and writing about weird and wonderful animals, Lisa enjoys spending time with her 'two' families: her husband and 3 kids, and her 3 dogs, Sooty the cat, Frank the terrapin, and Bob the bearded dragon.

Last Updated on January 25, 2021

Tortoises often display behaviors that, to us, might seem a bit bizarre. However, to them these behaviors are perfectly normal. Such behavior involves pacing up and down the enclosure, or even trying to climb the walls of the enclosure. There are those that believe this is caused by an increase in testosterone at certain times of the year while others think it is borne out of boredom or frustration.

The species of tortoise you have might also play a role; Russian tortoises, for example, are notorious for trying to climb walls.

Is Your Enclosure Too Small?

Sometimes a lack of space can cause a tortoise to feel frustrated and want to ‘escape.’ If your indoor enclosure is too small, your tortoise might be trying to climb walls to escape. If your tortoise is quite small, then an 8ft x 4ft enclosure should be sufficient. It is important that the side walls are at least twelve inches higher than the height of your tortoise when it is standing tall on its hind legs. However, larger tortoises will obviously require larger enclosures.

Another thing to think about is the setup of the enclosure. If your tortoise trying to climb the walls is driving you nuts, consider changing things up in the enclosure. Take the tortoise out and move items about so that the enclosure looks slightly different when you return your tortoise to it. This might just be enough to keep the animal occupied for a period of time and hence reduce the climbing.

Is Your Enclosure Made of Glass?

New tortoise owners often assume that their pet will love a glass, open-topped enclosure; in fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Tortoises get confused by glass as they simply do not understand it. If they can see out, they will want to get out. It is better to have a wooden enclosure for a tortoise as this reduces the confusion and will help to make it feel more secure.

A New Environment?

Another thing to consider with all the weird behavior is that your tortoise is just trying to get used to its space. If this is a new pet, then it is likely in an unfamiliar environment. Your tortoise may be trying to climb the walls in order to ‘escape’ to the home it already knows. You might find that within a week or two it will be used to its new surroundings and will stop trying to get out.


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