If you are new to tortoise keeping, you may have come across the claims that tortoise can jump. You may even have seen YouTube videos of people showing their tortoise “Jumpin.” So can tortoises jump we discover how accurate these claims to be?
A tortoise can not jump despite the claims they can. However, Tortoises do love to climb onto objects, and when moving off a high object, it can appear that a tortoise is jumping. A tortoise doesn’t actually jump and will not land on its feet despite how it may seem.
When on high objects, a tortoise will often face plant off into the floor; they may even tumble and lunge off, but they do not jump. This leaves us with many more questions about why they project this funny behavior. It can even be a worry when you first see them lunging off a high object. We take a look at why these do this and how you can keep it to a minimum.
Why Can’t A Tortoise Jump?
Tortoises are not built to jump their anatomy is just not set up to achieve jumping. To jump, you need the right legs, weight, and muscles to achieve jumping, and the tortoise just doesn’t have the correct attributes. Tortoises with these limitations are what make them slow and stuck to the ground.
The way tortoise moves and their large, heavy shell attached to their skeleton and the fact they have little muscle all lead to jumping an impossibility. Despite the shell being part of the reason a tortoise cant jump, it is such an essential part of your tortoise.
The shell allows your tortoise to dig and protect the tortoise from predators. If your tortoise does leave a high, the shell will do an excellent job of protecting your tortoise.
Never believe that you can help your tortoise jump by removing its shell. It is all part of their body and would likely kill them if you ever tried to remove it. Read our Can Tortoises and Turtles Live Without Their Shell? For a full explanation.
Is it Safe for a Tortoise to Jump from a height?
If you have ever seen your tortoise what people consider jumping from a height, it can be terrifying. At times it seems that your tortoise loves ‘jumping’ off items in their enclosure, and we can worry that our tortoise may sustain serious illness.
While the worry is justified, your tortoise is more likely to be okay. However, you should make sure your enclosure only has items that are relatively short hight. So if your tortoise does decide to fling themselves off, then the fall will only be small.
The question is an excellent question to ask, and knowing your tortoise will unlikely get hurt from jumping because of their protective shell can put your mind at ease.
There are, however, some additional problems that come from your tortoise jumping. If your tortoise lands on its back and can’t get back onto its feet, it can lead to many problems.
To give some quick points what could happen if your tortoise can’t get back onto their feet the following dangers persists:
- Twisted Bowel
If you want to know a little more about your tortoise landing on their back, we have a full article on Is It Dangerous Finding Your Tortoise on its Back?
The above dangers are rare if you setup your tortoise enclosure correctly or their outside area is safe. Despite how rare these dangers are, it is worth looking at ways to stop your tortoise from jumping.
How to stop your tortoise from jumping
Tortoises love to explore and climb onto objects; they are curious little things, so stopping them from getting onto objects in their enclosure can be tricky. However, following a few simple little process can help keep their jumping to a minimum and a lot safer.
Ensure that your enclosure is large enough
Many people overlook the size of the enclosure they offer to their tortoise. We need to remember when you purchase your tortoise, and it may be around a year old. Once a large enclosure for a one-year-old tortoise will no longer be once they get a few years older.
Often overlooked as tortoises are seen as a slow animal is just how much they love to move around. Offering your tortoise a large enclosure will keep them much more satisfied with life and much more stimulated.
As tortoises become adults, they move around a lot more and require an enclosure that offers them much more than one that once kept them happy when they were smaller.
If you don’t offer your tortoise an enclosure that is large enough, you will find your tortoise becomes board. When this happens, they will try to escape their enclosure and start to climb onto items and jump off, and this article is all about helping stop.
Giving your tortoise the right amount of space is a crucial part of keeping a happy tortoise.
Create an interesting enclosure that caters for safe climbing
No matter what we do, our tortoise will always try and climb, so our task should be to make it as safe as possible once they get onto something. We can’t sit around all day watching them, so we can take action when they climb.
I have logs and stones in my tortoise enclosure to make it an exciting environment for them. However, these can be high, and you can be assured your tortoise will climb on them. Ensure they are all low profile logs and rocks, so if they do get onto them, it is not a long way down.
A tortoise hide is often the offending item that helps tip your tortoise onto its back. Usually, they have steep sides, and when your tortoise makes its way onto, there is only one way down. I suggest looking for a more half-moon log hide, allowing your tortoise to fulfill their needs to climb but offers a safer descent with its sloped sides.
Provide stimulation that does not encourage climbing
It is hard to stop your tortoise from climbing; it can be part of their character but offering them some stimulation can help keep it to a minimum. Tortoises don’t require as much motivation as dogs or cats, but offering them a little will help keep them happy.
I often see people saying their tortoise looks board, and they are climbing the walls then to see their enclosure being bland and boring. There is no surprise that your tortoise is bored with some simple items within the enclosure that can offer stimulation would help.
Adding a section with a different substrate will quickly liven up an enclosure. Having an area where there are tufts of grass your tortoise needs to move around is excellent also. Small rocks and logs that are low profile give your tortoise something different to play on. However, there is little chance of them flipping onto their back if they are low profile.
Changing the enclosure items every couple of weeks will keep your tortoise stimulated and much more happy. I have seen people place balls into the enclosure for tortoises to play with and leads to more questions like Do pet tortoises need toys?
Can a tortoise climb a wall?
It is unlikely that our tortoise would successfully climb a wall at a 90-degree angle and is high enough for them to reach the top. This will not stop them from attempting to climb a wall as tortoises are adventures and love to explore, and they love to climb on different objects in their enclosures and walls will not escape their exploration.
Why does my tortoise try to climb the wall?
Seeing your tortoise trying to climb the wall of their enclosure can cause much concern. The worry of injury or escape is the two main worries we have as tortoise owners when we see our tortoise climbing the wall.
Tortoise love to climb and explore their surroundings, but if your tortoise is always trying to climb the wall, it could be a sign of boredom. Changing objects around within their enclosure can keep your tortoise more stimulated and keep away the boredom.
Why does my tortoise keep trying to escape?
Seeing your tortoise continually trying to escape their enclosure can become very stressful for pet owners, but why are they doing it?.
A tortoise that keeps trying to escape their enclosure is a significant indicator they are uncomfortable with their pen or bord with their surroundings. Changing items around or giving them a big place to explore will help keep boredom away and make them happier.
Most tortoises love to climb, and offering them a home that keeps them stimulated but at the same time, safe just takes a little planning.
Despite tortoises loving to climb and the fact, they seem to love flinging themselves off objects, at times, we discovered they could not actually jump. The tortoise’s body structure and anatomy are just not set up to allow them to jump.