Why Does My Tortoise Keep Flipping Over? 4 Ways To Prevent It

It’s not uncommon for a tortoise to flip over, but when it happens too often it can be alarming. What could cause your tortoise to keep flipping over? Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons.

A common cause of a tortoise hobbling or flipping over is because of dietary imbalances. Tortoises need their body to be in balance and their diets balanced as well. You should always make sure that your tortoise has a well-rounded diet, and be certain to keep track of what you are feeding them through a diet chart.

Another reason why your tortoise may be flipping over when you walk past could be because of the vibrations created by your footsteps as you approach or even if there are any objects near your habitat such as shoes or plants which

It is natural for tortoise owners to stumble on finding their precious companion flipped over and in a pretty pathetic condition while struggling for its breaths. Unfortunately, it might sometimes happen that their docile companions end up being on their back for a considerable duration. 

Several possibilities are out there that witness the flipping event in your pet tortoise, including injury, climbing incidents, illness, competition with other companions, and some weird habits. 

So, what are the possible consequences you can get from your flipped tortoise? The answer to this query will take a little bit of time. Read on.

How To Stop a Tortoise From Flipping Over?

The best way to stop a tortoise from flipping over may sound simple, but this is one of most effective ways to avoid a tortoise flipping, which can lead to injury. When a tortoise starts getting tired, they tend to fall at times when they step, so it’s important not to have any loose objects or surfaces that may make them trip.

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It also helps to provide a sturdy surface for the tortoise that will allow him or her more support with their feet.

Most experts recommend giving the creature exercise by walking them on a treadmill for around an hour each day and it is also important not just let them sit in one spot all day long as this type of behavior can lead health difficulties down the line like obesity and metabolic disorders.

Keeping a tortoise in captivity is one of the risk factors leading to flipping over. Moreover, while providing an artificial environment in tortoise housing, we tend to put several raised obstructions along with walls with sharp corners.

Therefore tortoises attempt to escape from this enclosure; they try to climb up thus end up as flipped over. 

Here are some more strategies that will lend a helping hand to prevent your tortoise from flipping over.

Start By Making Blunt Corners

First of all, you can do your best to prevent flipping accidents by placing a piece of wood at the sharp corners to let them be blunt. This practice will depreciate their overzealous topping and climbing. 

Block The View Of The Opaque Section

If the height of the opaque walls is too low, it will encourage your tortoise to jump or climb up to explore its surroundings. Therefore, you need to raise the height of these walls using some opaque material. 

Continue Your Tortoise Surveillance Remotely      

It is hard for you to stay with your tortoise all the time to check for flipping over as you have to do your job or business as well. Therefore, you can continually monitor your tortoise using a surveillance camera.

Think About Using a Firm Substrate

Have you ever think about that can your tortoise right itself by getting assistance from firm footholds? Well, you can use claggy soil after moistening it and drying will turn it into a texture to permit a grippy surface. Your tortoise can seek aid from it to right itself. 

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Moreover, the ground’s natural topography, provision of shrubbery and grass netting will also benefit your tortoise to regain its original form.         

How Long Can a Tortoise Last On Its Back?

It is not certain exactly how long a tortoise can last on its back but keep in mind that any length of time may prove fatal. Some research shows that the tort’s internal organs are organized so that they can only perform well in the right way up. A wrong-way up means your tort’s lungs are pressed by other organs that may lead to suffocation.

Believe it or not, but one thing is quite for sure: your tortoise is in the wrong way up in no longer being able to eat or drink. Moreover, you are unsure whether your tortoise will lay pathetic under a heating lamp or the scorching midday sun.

As far as how long is concerned, it depends. Depend on what? Generally, it depends on what type of tortoise is and under what circumstances this incident occurs. Like, some tortoise keepers reported the loss of their young tortoise within an hour after getting flipped over directly under the heat lamp. 

However, others also share their tortoises’ survivals after few days of the wrong way up but in many comfortable surroundings.  The only thing that will ensure their safety is prevention so that you don’t have to worry about how long it is safe.        

Can A Tortoise Breathe On Its Back?

A tortoise can breathe on its back but not for a longer duration depending upon the size and the immediate surroundings. Once your tortoise is in an upside-down position, different things are happening that may prove fatal over time if not corrected.

Here are some must things that happen whenever your tort is in an upside-down position. 

Bowel Torsion

If your tortoise flipped over in a vigorous fashion or during an attack, there are chances of getting intestinal torsion or precisely bowel torsion. Most of the time, this condition is corrected automatically on returning to normal position. 

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However, if you observe some bowel disturbances and the absence of faeces, contact the veterinarian immediately.            


When tortoises remain in a flipped over form for a longer duration, the chances of dehydration increase due to the unavailability of water. Moreover, in such a situation, the bowel and bladder of a tort may get void, which in return worsen dehydration. 


The internal organs of tort are designed to work at their optimal level only in an upright state. In a flipped over condition, the lungs get pressed by other internal organs and lose their strength to perform well. Therefore, in later stages, suffocation worsens the condition.

Vomiting And Choking

Due to the unnatural position and pressure of the organs, your tort may vomit. In addition, when a tort tries to breathe in vomit, the situation leads to choking. Moreover, the chance of aspiration pneumonia also increases that further complicate the condition.     

Stress And Anxiety

While struggling for correcting themselves, tortoises often develop physical and mental stress as well. This condition welcomes the chances of shock that may end up as collapse.    

Will A Tortoise Die On Its Back?

The chances of a tortoise dying on its back are low depending upon how often you see your tortoise. This means, if you are in the habit of seeing your docile companion frequently every day, there is not a big risk of death.

Therefore, always try to keep an eye on your lovely and reclusive pet to avoid such accidents that may end up as regret. 

Tortoise flipping is a routine process that you can avoid by adopting preventive measures and keep a close eye on frequently. Moreover, if this condition prevails for a longer duration, the chances of respiratory collapse and dehydration increase. If found in a flipped over position, turn your tortoise back over immediately and contact a vet.

If you’ve found your tortoise flipped over, don’t panic! The first thing to do is assess the situation. If they are not moving and seem to be struggling, call a veterinarian immediately.

In most cases of flipping over, we find that it was an accidental occurrence or due to another animal attack. However, if this isn’t the case and there doesn’t appear to be any movement from them at all for more than two minutes then they may have died in which case you’ll need to contact a vet as soon as possible.