Tortoise turning over

by James Thacker
(Warwickshire, England)

We have had our tortoise for nearly 30 years she is about 50 years old and very occsasionally she has turned upside down in the past.

This year, with the same pen and house, she has turned over three times twice to-day. Lukily someone has been at hand to see it and turn her over. However some days she is left all day and so this would not be noticed for up to ten hours max.

Two questions; how long could she last upside down ? I don't suppose there is a definite answer to this as nobody would know how long they had been upside down unless it was recorded on CCTV.

Secondly, is there anything we can do to prevent this happening with the design of the pen ? I expect that she turns over when frantically climbing up the netting to try to get out. We let her out most days under supervision but our garden is quite large and we are afraid she would get lost in the extensive undergrowth or some way become trapped in the four inch square sheep netting around parts of the garden which is overgrown so we would not find her. She could then be vulnerable to foxes and badgers etc at night.

In anticipation, thank you for your help.


James Thacker

Comments for Tortoise turning over

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May 22, 2010
Tortoise turning over
by: James


She is climbing up some fine netting which surrounds the pen she is in. The netting has squares about one inch by half and inch. We have thought about using a solid wooden material as sides to the pen; do you think she could get her claws into this ? We could also use a perspex matarial for the first few inches as it is unlikely she could climb up on this.

As I speak she is happy roaming about the large garden as we are here to-day to keep an eye on her.


May 21, 2010
by: DeeDee

They can stay overturned for quite awhile, unless their lying in full sun, what is your tortoise climbing up onto that allows it to get so upright? mine only overturn when they can climb up onto something, or can catch something with their nails..

May 20, 2010
tortoise turning over
by: Anonymous

A tortoise can live a really long time on its back. In sailing days, sailors stored large tortoises on their backs for weeks to provide fresh meat.

The tortoise is stressed on its back, but unless it's old or sick, it won't die quickly.

I'm sorry I can't tell you how to keep yours upright.

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