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I have a 10 year old redfoot tortoise that seems to want to get away. This is not a new problem, but I'm wondering if anyone has any insights as to what causes her to want to do this. Of course, there are the obvious needs of "I'm in an enclosed area, I need to run wild", but I think that's not the case.

I have high plexiglass walls around the perimeter of her enclose, as before I had those (around 5 years ago), she was constantly using her front limbs to hoist herself up over the edge. Now she tries to climb the walls very persistently, rubbing up against them, and she flips herself over at times. She does this about once or twice a week, and it seems to pick up around the spring, but doesn't seem to be related to temperature (see below). She is monitored very well, so I don't worry as much about her lying there and getting too warm, but I'm more curious about why she's doing it than anything. It would be nice to break her of the habit, but she's not very trainable.

She has acceptable levels of heat (90s in the hot spot, high 70s around the periphery of the enclosure), she is well fed, has plenty of water (and a "pool" to soak in). She is not egg-bound, according to the vet, and has never laid eggs, so I think that rules out that she has an urge to mate. As I have mentioned in other questions, I have had plans for building her a larger enclosure in the works, so it's possible that she's feeling cramped, but the fact that her climbing is intermittent leads me to believe that there is some other issue that I'm missing.

What is prompting her to climb and is there any way for me to curb her urges to do so?

  • As mentioned in the answer by Peggy if she can't see through the wall she is less likely to try and climb it. With rabbits we have good luck just putting an old sheet or piece of cardboard up to block line of site. Given it has been years, it may be to late to un-train her to escape, but if you have tried the suggestion in the existing answer and it did not work please update your question. – James Jenkins Dec 31 '17 at 13:26
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    @JamesJenkins Thanks for your suggestion. I'd like to know why she's doing it more than anything. She doesn't exhibit the climbing behavior consistently enough for the visibility to be the only reason. She actually really likes being able to look out, and even watches TV with us! Even if Peggy's suggestion is true, I'd like to hear more on the subject of roaming/stress with some authoritative resources, etc. – jonsca Jan 2 '18 at 3:15
  • I'm awarding the bounty because it shouldn't go to waste, but I'm open to other answers in the future. – jonsca Jan 7 '18 at 3:04
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I realize this is an old question, but answer may help someone else searching. It's the plexiglass. If she can see outside of her enclosure, her natural tendency is to roam. She will not give up. This causes stress. Try using brick on the next enclosure. You'll both be happier! Good luck.

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    Hi Peggy, welcome to the site and thanks for leaving an answer to help someone else searching in future - that's exactly how this site works! Any chance you could add a reliable source or citation to back up your answer and further help those future viewers? – starsplusplus May 26 '15 at 20:37
  • I have a mexican wood turtle who climbs in one corner of his terrarium. However for him it seems to because there is a light outside this corner which he tries to get closer to. – djsmiley2k - CoW Dec 31 '17 at 15:57

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