Can Tortoises Climb? Do Tortoises Like To Climb? 4 Clear Reasons

Noticing that your pet tortoise is attempting to climb may cause you some alarm. You will certainly want to know whether that is normal behavior or something is wrong with him. That would lead you to pose the question: do tortoises climb?

Can tortoises climb? The answer is yes. While dealing with a tortoise, you need to remember that you are dealing with an expert climber. This is a pet that can climb on trees, fences and walls. Besides climbing, these pets are also known to dig and hide deep in the soil.

If the garden where you are keeping the tortoise is not large or secure enough, he may be inclined to try escaping from it.

Therefore, if you notice that your tortoise is climbing (or attempting to climb), you need to understand that it is normal behavior. You nonetheless need to put in place measures to ensure that he doesn’t end up hurting himself while trying to climb. And that he doesn’t escape by climbing.

Can tortoises climb
Can Tortoises Climb Surfaces?

You may also want to ensure that he has enough space, and mental stimulation. This will reduce chances of him climbing in a bid to find bigger or more stimulating space ‘outside’.

In this article, you will find a comprehensive answer to that and other related questions. The other related questions include one on what surfaces tortoises can climb, and what you can do to keep them from climbing.


Can Tortoises Climb?

Tortoises do have the ability to climb. Sometimes, this may come as a surprise. That is because we have been conditioned to view them as slow, lazy and unmotivated animals. Therefore to anyone who has never witnessed it before, the sight of a tortoise climbing can be shocking.

It is important to remember that tortoises are wild animals. In the wild, they often find themselves in situations where they have to climb, if at all they are to survive and thrive. That is why they have evolved very impressive climbing abilities.

In the domestic setting (where they are kept as pets), tortoises may have a tendency to keep on trying to climb out of their enclosure. Or they may keep trying to climb onto items that are present in their enclosures.

They are able to climb by way of latching their limbs onto surfaces, then stretching upwards to the next level. They do it quite efficiently, if somewhat slowly.


Do Tortoises Like Climbing?

Besides having the ability to climb, tortoises also actually like climbing. They are therefore unlike certain other animals, which have climbing ability that they don’t use much.

For tortoises, climbing seems to be the sort of activity that causes considerable pleasure. Some tortoise owners actually report of situations where the animals spend almost all their time trying to climb onto things.


Why Does My Tortoise Climb The Walls?

First of all, can tortoises climb walls? The answer, as we have seen, is yes. Therefore if you see yours climbing the walls, keep it in mind that it is normal behavior. It is something tortoises do.

Now there are four possible reasons why he could be climbing the walls.

Firstly, he could just be eager to explore the world outside the walls. Remember, he is a curious creature. To him, the walls are a ‘hindrance’ to exploration of the outside world. That is why he keeps trying to climb out of them.

Secondly, it could be that he lacks stimulation in the enclosure where you keep him. So he wants to get out, to escape the boredom, so to speak.

Thirdly, it could be that the enclosure where you keep him is too small. Therefore he just wants to get out, to find more space to move about.

Fourthly, if he is a newly acquired pet, he could be trying to go back to the ‘home’ he is used to. It can take a while for him to come to view the new place as ‘home’. Before he does so, he will keep on trying to escape back to the home he recognizes.

Therefore if my tortoise keeps trying to climb the walls, these are the possible reasons I would consider.


Can Tortoises Climb A Ramp?

Yes, it is possible for a tortoise to climb a ramp. It therefore shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to find a tortoise climbing a ramp. If you put a tortoise on a certain point on a ramp, chances are that you won’t find him at that exact spot when you come back later. He will have tried to climb up or down the ramp.

You may ask: can tortoises climb ramps that are slippery? The answer would still be yes: whereas he will have some difficulty in climbing a slippery ramp, he is nonetheless likely to make an effort.

Possible Reasons For Tortoise Climbing
  1. Desire to explore the surroundings
  2. Boredom with the enclosure/lack of stimulation
  3. Feeling that the enclosure is too small/wanting to escape
  4. If in new environment, desire to go back to familiar environment


Can Tortoises Climb Trees?

Tortoises do have the ability to climb trees. This is especially the case for those trees whose branch structure gives good support for the tortoises’ limbs, as they go up. Tortoises have been seen climbing onto fairly tall trees.

Usually, they manage to go up and down the tree with ease. But there are also cases where they struggle on the way down, lose grip – and perhaps end up landing on their backs.


Can Tortoises Climb Fences?

Tortoises are perfectly capable of climbing fences. Therefore if you are keeping your tortoise in a fenced enclosure, don’t assume that you have fully boxed him in! You may come back to discover that he has climbed his way out. This is especially the case for those wire mesh fences which provide very good support for the limbs, as he climbs out.

It is also important to mention that besides being able to climb out of fences, tortoises can also dig their way out of fenced enclosures. Therefore if you are keeping yours in a fenced enclosure, there are two ways he could find his way out. His first option is that of climbing out. If he finds that too difficult, he may dig a canal below the fence and escape through it.

You may also ask: can tortoises climb fences that are made of concrete? And the answer would still be yes: as long as they are not smooth, vertical fences, the tortoise will try to climb.


Can Tortoises Climb Stairs?

Stairs are among the types of surfaces that tortoises like to climb, if they have a chance. Of course, much depends on the size of the space between the steps in the stairs. If they are typical stairs, with reasonably small spaces between the steps, the tortoises will try to climb them.

But if they are those ‘sharp’ stairs with big spaces between the steps, they may find it hard to climb them. Or they may climb unsuccessfully, tip over and end up with some injuries.


Can Tortoises Climb Ramps?

Tortoises are quite capable of climbing ramps. Ramp climbing is an activity that a tortoise is likely to enjoy, given a chance. Through the ramp, it is possible for a tortoise to move from one floor in a building to another.

Can tortoises climb up
Can Tortoises Climb Up?

Therefore you shouldn’t be too surprised if you left a tortoise on a building’s ground floor, then you find him having somehow gotten to the third floor. He can slowly but surely go up the floors, through the ramp.


Can Tortoises Climb Down Stairs?

The question on can tortoises climb stairs has two parts. The first is where one wants to know if they can go up the stairs. And the second is where one wants to know whether they can go down the stairs. So, indeed, can tortoises climb down stairs? The answer is ‘yes’. Just as they have the ability to go up the stairs, they also have the ability to go down the stairs.

Sometimes though, while trying to climb down stairs, they may lose their grip. Then they end up falling, often landing on their back, resulting in major injuries. That way, you can (in the worst case scenario) end up with a dead tortoise: which can be a very sad scenario, especially not knowing what to do with a dead tortoise.

Thankfully, such cases are rare. In most cases, tortoises manage to go up and down stairs with remarkable ease – their body structure notwithstanding.


How High Can Tortoises Climb?

Tortoises are known to climb quite high: sometimes several feet up. To put it into perspective, it is not uncommon (in the wild) to find a tortoise having climbed onto a medium size tree, typically in search of fruit. In a building setup, using the ramp, the pet can quite easily climb several floors up.


Can Russian Tortoises Climb?

Yes, Russian tortoises have good ability to climb. They are among the types of tortoises that seem to derive considerable pleasure from climbing. Therefore if you find your Russian tortoise climbing, you need to understand that it is a normal thing for them.


Can Desert Tortoises Climb?

As with most other types of tortoises, desert tortoises have some decent climbing ability. They climb both to explore their surroundings and to escape from conditions they perceive as captivity.


Can Horsefield Tortoises Climb?

It is possible for horsefield tortoises to climb. Climbing is one of the things that comes naturally to them. Therefore if you are keeping horsefield tortoises in an enclosure, it would be a good gesture to provide them with toys they can safely climb onto, so as to satisfy that urge. Small rocks, logs or balls can serve this purpose.


Can Tortoises Survive a Fall?

As long as it is not a particularly nasty fall, a tortoise can survive it. You have to remember that these are hardy creatures, who manage to survive under very harsh conditions in the wild. Therefore small to medium falls are not particularly lethal to them. But if it is a very nasty fall, and the tortoise happens to land on his back, then he may not survive it.

In a very nasty fall, the shell may not offer adequate protection. (By the way, do tortoises sleep in their shell)? If the tortoise ends up falling on his back, he may cause himself further internal injury as he wiggles and struggles to get back up.


How Do You Stop a Tortoise From Climbing?

It may not be possible to entirely stop a tortoise from climbing. But you can reduce the climbing behavior. Firstly, you need to figure out why the tortoise has developed a tendency to climb. Is it because of boredom? Or is it because the space he is in is too small for him, and he wants to escape to the open grounds?

If it appears to be boredom that is making your tortoise climb, you can resolve it by creating a more stimulating environment. So this would be by introducing, into his enclosure, items that the tortoise is likely to enjoy interacting with.

If it appears to be too little space that is making the tortoise climb, you can resolve it by expanding the enclosure. Remember, the space that may have been enough when the tortoise was small may, over time, have become too modest for him.

Of course, rather than trying to stop the tortoise from climbing, you can opt to put in place measures that promote safer climbing for him. This may, for instance, entail buying tortoise climbing toys.


How To Help A Tortoise That Has Fallen While Climbing?

You may first need to help the tortoise get back on its feet, if it has fallen on its back. It can be very uncomfortable for a tortoise to be on an upside posture.

Therefore getting it back on its feet would really be useful to it.

Then you need to examine the tortoise, to see what sort of injury it may have been left with.

Thereafter, it is essential to clean any wounds that the tortoise may have incurred.

In case the wounds the tortoise incurred are major, you need to get the tortoise to a vet ASAP.

Remember, however bad the apparent injuries, as long as the tortoise is still alive, there may be a chance of saving it.


Final Verdict – Can Tortoises Climb

Can Tortoises climb? Tortoises do have the ability to climb. And climbing is an activity they seem to draw some pleasure from. It may therefore be a good idea to consider buying climbing toys for your tortoise.

Can tortoises climb rocks
Can Tortoises Climb Rocks?

Further, the fact that they can climb also means that they can escape from what owners view as ‘safe’ enclosures. Therefore when setting up an enclosure for a tortoise, you need to do so keeping it in mind that it is for an animal that is capable of climbing out.

As a pet lover, make sure to learn about pet more and give your pet tortoise a good and comfortable life!

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