Why is My Tortoise Trying to Escape?

Tortoises make lovely pets for an individual or a family. Just like any other pet, they require a certain level of care and attention in order for them to live long, happy lives.

If you’ve recently taken your tortoise home from the pet store, you’re probably wondering why he’s constantly trying to escape from his enclosure. This is especially common with newly housed tortoises. However, it can also happen when you’ve had your tortoise for a couple of years or more. Most of the time, it occurs when their needs are not being fully met. And sometimes, it’s just your tortoise being a tortoise.

Keep reading to find out the most common reasons your tortoise is trying to escape.

Your Tortoise isn’t Happy with His Surroundings

A common question many new pet owners ask is, Why is my baby tortoise trying to escape? There could be multiple reasons, but the most common is poor living conditions. If his needs aren’t being met, it won’t be long before he starts trying to escape in a bid to find something – or somewhere – better. For that reason, it’s worth checking that you’re providing your pet tortoise with the best possible living conditions.

A tortoise needs plenty of space to roam in an enclosure that’s approximately 40 to 50 gallons in volume. If it’s too small, your tortoise will start to feel trapped, and ultimately end up trying to climb the walls. Ensure you’re housing him in a well-ventilated, well-lit enclosure with plenty of natural sunlight so he can soak up the rays during the day. If the enclosure doesn’t have much natural sunlight, install a bulb that replicates UV rays so that your pet can get around 12 hours of light each day.

Tortoises are happiest when their enclosure is warm and damp. However, the amount of heat and dampness depends on the breed. Greek Tortoises, for instance, do best with slightly cooler temperatures and wet environments while Russian Tortoises faver warmer, drier conditions. Speak to a professional veterinarian or wildlife expert for advice on the best climate for your pet tortoise. You can easily track the temperature of your tortoise’s enclosure by adding a thermometer.

At the end of the day, if your home wasn’t meeting your demands or basic needs, you would leave, right? If it was too cold, too hot, or lacking light, you’d either choose another home or try and fix the solution to make it better for yourself.

It’s important to consider the needs of a tortoise if you’re planning on keeping one as a pet. Otherwise, you’ll only end up with a sad little animal that’s constantly looking for a way out – and that’s just unfair.

Your Tortoise is Hungry

If you’ve been asking Google “why my tortoise keeps trying to climb the walls” but you can’t seem to find a reasonable answer, it could be down to hunger. If your tortoise does not get adequate food, he will attempt to leave his enclosure in a bid to find some. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your tortoise gets enough food daily in order to thrive.

As a general rule, it’s best to feed babies and younger torts at least once a day. Adult tortoises should be fed several small, nutrient-filled meals every two or three days, depending on your particular tortoise.

All species of tortoises need to eat a wide range of plants to stay strong and healthy. Sulcata, Aldabra, Galapagos, and leopard tortoises thrive on a diet filled with grasses and weeds. Russian tortoises, on the other hand, eat less grass in their diet, preferring greens like lettuce and other veggies.

If you want your tortoise to stop escaping from his enclosure, make sure he’s getting plenty of the right things to eat, otherwise he’ll end up looking elsewhere.

Your Tortoise Wants Female Companionship

Do you have a male tortoise in close proximity to female tortoises? That could be why he’s desperate to exit his enclosure. He may be able to smell the females, and in a bid to find them, attempt to leave.

It can definitely be frustrating – both to you and to him – but as long as you keep him well fed and in the best possible living environment, he should eventually calm down. Alternatively, try moving him so he’s less close to the females.

Another good way to handle the situation is by bringing in more tortoises to keep your pet content. A good mixture of females and males should offer the healthy balance needed to give all members of the home a happy and fulfilled life.

Of course, make sure you think it through before taking in more. For instance, do you have enough space to house them? Taking more in means additional responsibility and demands as you’ll most definitely need a larger enclosure – and certainly more food to feed all their hungry little mouths.

Your Tortoise is Stressed

Why does my tortoise keep scratching the wall is a common question many tortoise owners ask. Quite frankly, they’re baffled as to why their precious little pet is so adamant on getting out! The truth is, there could be tons of different reasons why they’re not content with staying put.

Tortoises can get stressed very easily – most often due to feeling exposed in their enclosure. They like somewhere to hide inside their enclosure. If his home doesn’t have that, try adding one or two hiding spots so your tortoise can feel safe and avoid feeling overexposed which can quickly lead to him stressing out. Other factors that might contribute to stress include loud noises and overcrowding.

To help your tortoise unwind and enjoy his space, make sure that the enclosure has plenty of hiding spots so he can feel secure. Be sure to place his enclosure in a quiet and calm place so noises can’t stress him out.

Try to put yourself in the tortoise’s shoes. If something annoys you, then it’s most likely going to annoy him too. And remind yourself that he likes to feel secure. It’s not that he doesn’t feel safe in the enclosure, but let’s say he hears a momentarily loud noise and wants to hide from view, having nowhere to go would most definitely leave him scared! And ultimately: stressed!

Your Tortoise is Pregnant

A clear sign your tortoise might be pregnant is if she continually tries escaping from her enclosure. When a tortoise is pregnant, she will do everything possible to get out of the tank – including digging holes, scratching, and even breaking the enclosure. She’ll try everything possible to get out.

In the wild, tortoises lay their eggs on holes they dig and cover them up with dirt to keep them safe. While your enclosure might be 100% safe, she doesn’t know, and she’ll go to great lengths to find a better hiding spot for her eggs. So, if you’re concerned her living conditions aren’t up to scratch, don’t worry. It’s most likely just her instincts kicking in.

If you’re unsure whether your tortoise is pregnant, get her checked out by a vet to confirm it for you. There are also a few signs you can look out for to tell if she’s pregnant including reduced appetite, leg wiggling, quietness, scratching, sniffing, and of course, attempting to leave her tank.

If you have any questions or concerns, speak to a veterinarian. They’ll be able to offer you the guidance you need.

Your Tortoise is Feeling Especially Active

You might have the best enclosure with optimum lighting and climate. You might feed her a diet rich in nutrients, and keep him away from females. And still, your pet tortoise tries to escape. Don’t worry. Sometimes, it’s your tortoise just being a tortoise. In some cases, tortoises like to pace and feel especially active which leads them to scratch and climb their way out of their enclosure.

If he has sufficient space, you don’t need to be concerned. This bizarre behavior should pass in a day or two. Of course, if you’re giving your tortoise everything he or she needs, and they’re still desperate to leave it may be worth discussing it with a vet for their professional opinion.

Get a checkup (for your tort), and make sure he’s healthy. If the escaping habit is chronic, it may indicate that your tortoise is experiencing health issues. Be sure to get it all checked out to keep your beloved pet happy, healthy, and content with his home.

Another suggestion: expand his enclosure so he can enjoy more space to roam around. If you don’t have much time to take him out, try enlarging his enclosure so he can stay active inside without needing to be left out as often.

How Often Should You Let Your Tortoise Out?

Exercise is essential for any animal, including tortoises. One reason he might constantly be trying to escape his enclosure is lack of exercise. Tortoises need physical movement and stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Just like you and I! Obviously, you can’t put him on a leash or go for a run with him like you can your dog, but you can let him have a walk around your garden or house – somewhere safe with plenty of space for him to walk, climb, and dig.

According to experts, tortoises need at least one hour of exercise a day. Keep him fit and healthy by encouraging him to walk, climb, and dig inside or outside his enclosure. If the enclosure is very spacious, he may be okay staying in there. However, it’s always nice to let him explore a little further and get that extra exercise to keep him thriving. During the colder months, he’ll require less exercise.

If you do plan on letting him out once a day for his exercise, check that he’s entering a safe environment. Cover any holes from which he can escape and ensure there are no other animals around that could pose a threat to your tortoise’s safety.

In the warmer months, aim to take your pet tortoise out once a day for at least an hour, and supervise at all times to ensure he’s safe and doesn’t leave the area.

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