Climbing tortoises

by Mikala
(Maidstone, Kent)

Hi I have two horsefield tortoises aged 3 and 4. We curently have them in a glass fronted vivarium but they both seem to be trying to climb the back wall - pacing too and fro all day? The bigger one has even tipped himself right over!! Is there anything I can do to stop this? Do I need a bigger Vivarium? Please help

Comments for Climbing tortoises

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Jan 26, 2010
You may be able to make the vivarium work, depending...
by: The Greek Tortoise Guild

So you've already spent the money on a glass vivarium, which means you may want to try and make it work. But, if your tortoises are CONSTANTLY pacing back and forth and CONSTANTLY trying to climb out, you may have a space that is far too small for either the number of tortoises you have or for their size (or both).
One thing to try is to create some variety in their space. Add rocks, logs and other features that they can climb on, thereby increasing the usable surface area of their home. By adding features like this you can also create additional hiding places which will allow them to more easily regulate their body temperature (a cool hiding spot and a warm hiding spot would be optimal).
Try something like this and see if these features don't give them enough room to get over their cabin fever. Also, try placing these features along the glass walls so that they don't try so frantically to go through the glass.
One other thought, in doing this remember: everything you put in their home is liable to be pooped on, so consider what it will be like to clean things off.
You can respond to this post with any other questions if you like or you can ask me on my blog at

Jan 23, 2010
Change if housing.
by: Emily

Hi Mikala!
Sounds to me like your pets need a change of housing! Tortoises generally do not do well in vivariums, firstly tortoises do not understand the concept of glass, therefore get bothered when they can see a place that they can't physically get to-natural explorers!
Also vivariums are generally bad as they do not provide a good enough area for your tortoises to thermo regulate. The glass acts as an insulator therefore trapping warmth.

You want to make a mini micro climate so your tortoises can move around depending on whether they need to cool down or warm up. If tortoises are warm, they tend to be very active!

I have a tortoise table, basically a purpose built wooden sided box which allows him to climb but also enables a micro climate to establish. Changing from a vivarium may reduce the 'escaping' behaviour!

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