My tortoise keeps falling on his back

by Helen

I have a baby Hermanns tortoise hatched end of 2008. He has started getting quite daring and has recently started flipping him self over on anything he can find. He will walk up the wall, pushing himself with his back legs and then pushes his front ones to fall onto his back. This has happened a couple times while I have been there and he cant get back up so i turn him back over.

I was out yesterday and when I came back he was on his back in his tortoise table, He was clearly in some distress and as soon as I turned him over he retreated into his shell and took ages to come back out and eat his food I had put out for him ( most unusual )

Is there any way I can stop this happening, as I'm now really worried about him when I go out - Is this normal; Will he grow out of it? How long can he be left on his back ?

Comments for My tortoise keeps falling on his back

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Apr 14, 2020
Is it safe to train your tortoise and flip him over
by: Anonymous

My tortoise always flips on his back, I train him by flipping him over, is that safe or advised against?

Reply from Shelly

Do you mean you try to make your tortoise go onto its back? That is dangerous.

Keep it slow and steady.

Aug 22, 2018
my baby hermans tortoise stoped flipping over
by: Anonymous

thankyou soo much for the advise my tortoise loves to explore his fidget spinner that my son dose not use is a great idea to put new safe items that your tortoise can explore with and is also my tortoise loves his new outdoor enclosure and when I am at work and no one is at the house we leave him four small cucumber nuggets for him to chew on wile we are away and when we get back home and it is warm we put him out side. thankyou for the advise.

Sep 08, 2017
Leopard Tortoise flipping over
by: Tasha

Hi all,
Terry is only 4 months old and I've only had him a couple of weeks but this last week he has managed to climb up the wall and flipped onto his side/back.
I was told this isn't good for them, not sure what I can do to prevent this? I have put cardboard at an angle but hes still trying to climb up.

Any advice would be amazing, i'm new to this :)

Jul 28, 2016
got some advice
by: Anonymous

if your tortoise falls on his back I've got some advice. one thing to do is you can put them outside making sure no animals or birds can get to the tortoise. leave the tortoise out there for about an hour and after an hour check the shell and if its freezing take the tortoise inside. another thing that helps is every day move things in the tortoises cage around so that its interesting for the tortoise. my last bit of advice is to give the tortoise small squares of cucumber because it keeps them from climbing. if your going out put over 5 squares in if your in put about two and keep on checking on the tortoise.
Added by Shelly: Never, ever put a tortoise outside if it is freezing. Tortoises are cold-blooded animals that have no way to stay warm except from the environment.

May 18, 2016
stop tortoise flipping
by: Shelly

Give your tortoise things to do in the enclosure. Give places to hide, things to climb (away from the walls), little surprises every once in a while.

If you read this whole thread, you will see that others suggest putting things in the enclosure that the tortoise can brace against to right itself. Again, keep these far enough from the walls that he won't use them as a ladder to escape.

Keep it slow and steady.

May 18, 2016
Tort Keeps Flipping on his Back!
by: gillian

Hi, I have had a Greek tort for about 5 years and recently he got into a terrible habit: he stands on his hind legs trying to get out a lovely new enclosure, after which he flips on his back! The matter is worrying me a lot as I live alone.Can't leave home even for an emergency, can't fall asleep and so on.

Anyone's advise/help would be highly appreciated.

Thank you,

Apr 18, 2016
Climbing tortoise
by: patricia

I am having the same problems with others. My tortoise keeps climbing vertically up the side of the pen and falling on his back.I get so I am afraid to leave him, is he safe for ling in that position?.

Jun 26, 2015
by: Helen


Eventually he stopped doing it by himself, his shell is now so rounded that if it does happen he can help himself back up.

It was a phrase that lasted about 3months and he was flipping on the sides as well as off objects so in the end I put a couple of big stones (fist size) in the tank as well so that he could push against them to righten himself. One sort of every 10 or so cm.

They worked pretty well and now they are just pushed up against the side and he loves basking in them!!!

Fingers crossed your tortoise soon stops flipping!! :)

Jun 26, 2015
flipping old tortoise!
by: Anonymous

Tommy is constantly flipping at the moment, it's a new thing this year, trouble is as he's so old he can't get back again which is worrying when I'm not there, he's about 110yrs old & should know better!! Wonder if he has dementia or something wrong with him?

Jan 27, 2014
by: Anonymous

I am having the same problem I have nothing in the table for him to climb but he keeps climbing the walls and flipping he has done it now 4 times in a week don't know what to do? Did u find away that helped?? Sorry starting to worry about him as it's happening frequently now x

Feb 22, 2012
My flipping Tortoise
by: Anonymous

These stories sound exaclly like my 3 month old tortoise!! I've had him,her, for about 2 wks and now 2 days in a row he was found on his back in his water bowl than today I found him on his back in his food dish. Thank God I found him soon enough and righted him and "scolded him". LOL I work 4pm to 8am Mon thru Fri, I am so worried he'll flip and I won't be there for hrs to rescue him!!! I read to cover the outside of his tank so he can't see out and he'll quit climbing the walls. I'm doing that as soon as I get home 2morrow morning!!! Keeping my fingers crossed he's ok!

Sep 02, 2009
Flippings over!
by: Hermanni

Hi, I also have a baby Hermans that was hatched at the end of 2008 and am occasionally having the same problem. I ended up having to take anything out of his table that caused him to 'flip' over. I let him out of his table quite a lot so that he gets a lot of room to walk about, which has helped a little. What kind of enclosure does your tort live in?

Aug 10, 2009
tortoise flipping
by: Anonymous

He will be more likely to flip himself back over if there are things nearby to brace himself against. Try putting heavy objects like rocks or bricks in with him in spots where you think he might be able to use them to right himself.

As for how long he can stay on his back, I can't say for sure.

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