Why is My Tortoise Pacing?

Gopher Tortoise

Tortoises are inquisitive and naturally walk about, so seeing yours walking around its enclosure should not be something to worry about. However, if you think your tortoise seems to be continually pacing back and forth, there may be a reason for this.

Where is Your Tortoise Kept?

Vivariums are not recommended for tortoises but this is a mistake many new owners make. If you are keeping your tortoise indoors, the best type of enclosure is an open one without glass walls. TortoisesOpens in a new tab. are confused by glass walls as they do not understand these ‘see-through’ walls.

Pacing could also come about by your tortoise’s enclosure being too small. It is best to have an enclosure as big as you possibly can to prevent excessive pacing. Nonetheless, even in a bigger enclosure a tortoise might still be inclined to ‘pace.’

‘Pacing’ is Natural

What you might not realize is that pacing is actually natural behavior for tortoises. In the wild, tortoises walk for many miles. Pacing in captivity is thought to be related to this. Their natural instinct is to walk. And some species, such as Russian tortoises, are more prone to pacing than others.

Is Your Tortoise Looking for a Mate?

Although tortoises are generally solitary creatures, it could be the case that your tortoise is pacing more out of sexual frustration. Pacing is an early mating behavior and is a way to ‘catch the eye’ of a suitor.

Do You Need to Worry?

There is no reason to worry about your tortoise pacingOpens in a new tab. unless it is accompanied by other signs that something is amiss, such as a loss of appetite. If your tortoise does not seem distressed, is eating and pooping normally, and is not showing any signs of ill health, then you can take it that its pacing is completely normal behavior and nothing to worry about. Nevertheless, if you are worried about your tortoise, talk to your vet for professional advice.

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I am a content creator by profession but exotic animals are one of my great passions in life. Over the course of my adulthood, I have had the pleasure of looking after stick insects, terrapins, an Egyptian tortoise, giant African land snails, a crested gecko, a Chilean rose tarantula, a couple of curly-haired tarantulas, and a selection of millipedes, centipedes and worms!

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