Jul 24, 2014
Hello everybody :)

I have a RT named Goku that I got about 6 weeks ago, and I think he is (slightly?) stressed out. He lives in an enclosure I made out of a bookshelf that is in my bedroom and for the most part he's been a pretty calm dude... keep in mind no one is home on week days before 4 o'clock and I usually come home to find him basking and just looking around the room in general. I try to take him outside a few days a week for about 30 minutes to an hour to soak and/or wander around the yard (I supervise the entire time as I am in the process of building an outdoor enclosure.) For the past week or two, he's started digging in the late afternoon... and scraping the floor/walls... for a few hours. I know tortoises like to dig & RT are known for looking for escape routes but he does it incessantly... and with a lot of force, like he's stressed. He usually does it even more when I bring him back inside after a soak/walk. I kind of understand that... he just had an entire yard to roam in and now he's wondering why he's in a box with 4 sides. Sometimes he comes back in, and is happy to just find a comfy spot and bask for a few hours. Lately though, he has been scraping and scraping regardless if he goes outside or not. I try to distract him, or pick him up and move him elsewhere and he looks terrified all of a sudden. Keep in mind, he hasn't been the friendliest around me so far... won't eat out of my hand, sticks his head in if i get to close, hates being soaked (except for one really hot day, he sat in his basin relaxing the entire time I was swimming in the pool haha), won't eat if he knows I'm looking at him,generally doesn't care too much for me in general, sometimes he's nosy and likes to watch me walk around the room... and refuses to eat anything other than butter lettuce. go figure. But it seems as if, instead of getting more used to me and not seeing me so much as a predator... he's going backwards. And if I try to handle him to show him I'm friendly, it seems worse. Is there anything I can do to relieve his stress? Let him go outside more or less? Pay more or less attention to him? Temps and humidity are normal ..I live in south florida.. It's hot. He has his uvb light... a hide... decent sized enclosure. What else can I do to make him feel more safe in his home?

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 23, 2008
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Tortoises have a very good sense of time of year. It's time for him to start digging in to hibernate, and that's probably what he's doing. You can help by keeping the lights on for at least 14 hours a day and keep the temperatures up day and night to try to fool him into thinking the days aren't getting shorter.


Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Apr 10, 2011
Location (City and/or State)
Apple Valley, California
6 Weeks is but a drop in the bucket of longevity for a first off, I would cut yourself a break and not feel as though he has it in for

I would set up a strictly followed (with reasonable flexibility that is) regimen on/off, food offering type and location, soaking --times per day and length of time....and keep a real pen to detail. Tortoise are crazy creatures of habit, they are perfect at it. If your tort was purchased at a pet store, likely was a wild tort at one time--so adjustment to being a captive is going to take ALOT of time. Be patient, don't handle the tort much, don't hover over the little cutie and in time (it may take months) you will likely see a bit more relaxed tortoise.....remember, a tortoise is not going to be a "fluffy pet" like a dog, they are pretty independent creatures..but in time they will associate you with happy feelings "oh here comes that thing with the tasty treats"


The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 9, 2010
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Did you get him from Petco? If yes, that is a wild caught tortoise and they take time to settle into a new routine. Some take weeks, some take longer. The hand feeding thing might take a while, but be patient. To get him eating better try chopping up the new good stuff and mixing in a tiny amount with some finely chopped butter lettuce. Gradually increase the ratio of new to old, and don't worry if he skips eating from time to time. Feed him the same mixture several day in row until he eats it.

What are your four temps? It might be too hot.

Here are some suggestions for foods:
Mulberry leaves
Grape vine leaves
Hibiscus leaves
African hibiscus leaves
Blue hibiscus leaves
Rose of Sharon leaves
Rose leaves
Cape honeysuckle
Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc...
Young spineless opuntia cactus pads

There are soooooooo many...
Smooth Sow thistle
Prickly Sow thistle
Milk thistle
Goat head weed
Cats ear
Wild onion
Wild mustard
Wild Garlic
Broadleaf plantain
Narrow leaf plantain
Chick weed

Other good stuff:
"Testudo Seed Mix" from
Pasture mixes or other seeds from
Homegrown alfalfa
Mazuri Tortoise Chow
ZooMed Grassland Tortoise Food


Active Member
5 Year Member
Jun 29, 2014
Location (City and/or State)
You're new at this aren't cha? ;) You sound like me a couple months ago. :rolleyes:
Best advice I got - chill! He will be fine and he will come to like you. Also learn to be relaxed around him and move a little more slowly. That's how they are and that's what they relate to. :<3: These guys are pretty hardy. I mean, mine survived me - so far. And, I made several major mistakes.:D


Jul 24, 2014
He's gotten a little better and I guess I have too ;). He is still stuck on the butter lettuce and radaccio but I found some dandelion greens at whole foods and I got some calcium powder to put on top, so we're moving on up lol. He definitely recognizes my presence in the room... Every night when he decides he's had enough of us and wants to go to bed, he scratches at the sides of his wall and stares at me until I turn off his lights.. And sometimes even the lights in the room.. So I spend a lot of nights in the dark starting at about 7:30 :rolleyes: but we're getting there, slowly lol

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