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Can my tortoise flip back?

Discussion in 'Russian tortoises' started by jimmynm26, Sep 17, 2007.

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  1. jimmynm26

    jimmynm26 New Member

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    Hi,

    I have built a great habitat for my tortoise and it seams to be very happy. It has so much energy these days! It can't stop moving during the day time. It tries to climb the walls of it's habitat all the time and that worries me a lot. About a week ago, I was watching it as it was attempting to climb a wall, it lots it's balance a fell on it's back. Once on it's back it started moving its head in all directions so I helped it back on it's feet. He was probably on his back for 2 to 3 seconds.

    Now every time I go to work, I get scared that he will do the same thing and die. My questions are, can they flip back??? I have a Russian tortoise. I have had him for a few months now and I never came home to find him on his back. Was I just lucky to be there once he did flip? Another question is, how long will he have to be on his back to die? I am really worried about this and I think about it throughout the day. Please write back with some tips on how to avoid this.
  2. Jacqui

    Jacqui Out living in my yard.... Staff Member

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    Most of the time they can flip themselves back over, the most danger comes from a tortoise doing it on a hot day in the sun or under a basking light.

    How long on the back is dependent on other factors like the heat it's exposed to, tort size, ect.., Usually they can last for several hours without major problems.

    Can he see out the walls? Does he have lots of things to take his mind off of trying to get out...like hides, logs/rocks to climb, lots of plants? What kind of substrate do you have. Seems if you can have things to do, places to go they don't try to climb out quite so much. Then substrate and items to support and (not sure how to explain this) unbalance him so he is already more tipped to one side, it's easier for them. A flat surface area seems harder for them to get back up on.

    Think about in nature, the ground has a constant wavey nature to it. There are little items like rocks, sticks that keep it from being flat and smooth too. If he is totally flat on his back, it's harder for him to rock his body until he can turn himself over.

    Just my thoughts on it.
  3. Kim

    Kim New Member

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    Sep 12, 2007
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    Location:
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    My tortoise does that sometimes too. I 've found that if he's close to the wall or has other objects around him, he can flip over by himself because he is pretty strong. I have come home from work before and found him flipped over and I knew it couldnt have been for more than a couple of hours at the most, so I'm not sure how long they can stay like that. Just try and make sure there are not too many things he can climb right under the heat lamp. It is a rare occurance when I find him flipped over,maybe he just gets bored. If you actually see your tortoise flip over, just watch him and let him try to flip back over by himself, then at least you know he can do it.
  4. jimmynm26

    jimmynm26 New Member

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    Thank you so much for all your help!!! this site is really helpful! Fred is my first tortoise and I never thought that I would ever have one, I am more of a dog fan. This site has made it so easy for me to care for him and I am really grateful for that.

    I will try to plant a bunch of grasses and plants in his habitat but I'm not sure what to plant. Do you have any suggestions. I live in Kazakhstan right now and it is so difficult to find anything in this country. Do they eat any kind of grass? please let me know. thanks
  5. Kim

    Kim New Member

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    I've actually bought a flat of regular grass that you would put in your yard and put it in the enclosure. It gives it a more outdoor feel and he can burrow in it too.
  6. dataslave

    dataslave New Member

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    Location:
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    My red foots used to tip each other over before I doubled their space. Usually on the flat surface inside the tiki hut. Like Jacqui mentioned, they can right themselves easily unless they are on a flat surface. Now they each have their own little spots they like to hide in and rarely come into contact with each other.

    Once I witnessed one of them lose their footing on the bank of the stream and rolled down into the water landing up side down. I immediately ran screaming out of the house to help him out and he was already righted and looking up at me like... "What? I meant to do that!" It only took less than 10 seconds.
  7. Rees2

    Rees2 New Member

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    Another danger is if they panic and barf while there upside down and choke.Humpfree has flipped himself upside down but luckly I found him in time I'm glad I did.:).So Dataslave are your two both male?
  8. dataslave

    dataslave New Member

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    Yes... both male. When I got them, I asked for a male and female. The reptile shop didn't really know. They are both developing concaved plastrons at around 4 years.

    [​IMG]
    Before I opened up this end of the tiki and expanded their territory, they would pace and get in each other's way. I first tried obscuring the side glass, then painting it dark brown. They still paced.

    [​IMG]
    Bob gets a bit frightened after being on his back for a while... having a little ol' accident on himself. Nothing a little hosing a red hibiscus treat can't take care of.
  9. jimmynm26

    jimmynm26 New Member

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    I will try to take a picture of him to show you the ripples that I am talking about. His shell was completely smooth before. When I looked at pictures of russian tortoises, they actually had some "ripples" on their shell so I guess it is normal. It is starting to appear on the lower parts of his shell (the left and right side).

    I have built a habitat for him outside but 2 days ago it started to get cold at night (I would guess around 12-15 C). Today he hasn't eaten at all. Usually he eats like a pig! Is there a problem? I have moved him inside and will put a heat lamp and UVB on him while it's cold out.
  10. T-P

    T-P New Member

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    Location:
    Coventry, England
    Some tortoises shells are to HIGH for them to flip themselves, their legs cannot reach the floor.

    But most hermanns and russians can flip themselves back over.

    my daisy cannot do it, she has a big rant with her legs and sleeps.
    But looi can do it.
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