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Flipping over - anything to worry about?

Posted: 29 Jun 2020, 09:45
by isabelle again!

Coming to the end of my first week with a 2 year old Hermann's. She's doing really well, enjoying her daily baths in the morning sun and pottering about eating weeds. But twice so far I've found her flipped over on her back - we're around the house a lot at the moment so I don't think she's been stuck upside down for more than 30 mins each time, but she seemed to have fallen asleep like this normal or anything to worry about?

Both times she's done it she hasn't been anywhere near the plants/pot/water bowl, seems to have done it by just trying to climb up the solid sides of her table. Is there any way to minimise the chance of this happening or should I just keep an eye on her and not worry too much?

Thank you :)

Re: Flipping over - anything to worry about?

Posted: 29 Jun 2020, 10:39
by Nina
Hi Isabelle,

Oh dear that does happen a fair amount with tortoises, and there isn't really much you can do about it, except make sure there are things like rocks and plants around, and you can mound up the substrate a bit to make little hils and things -- anything that they can push against or will tilt them towards righting themselves again.

99% of the time they can right themselves, but what happens is you usually see them wiggling away, moving their legs around to try and touch something. if she looks like she has fallen asleep then it might mean she was on her back for some time and had got really tired. It's not super dangerous for them to be on their backs, except if they happen to turn over under their heat lamp, and then there is a danger of them dehydrating -- especially for small ones who dehydrate more quickly.

I'm not sure what to say, and hopefully someone else will come on with some good ideas for you.


Re: Flipping over - anything to worry about?

Posted: 29 Jun 2020, 12:47
by lin
Hi Isabelle.
I know you have posted photos of your enclosure but could you post another one here so I can see if there is anything you could do to help.


Re: Flipping over - anything to worry about?

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 12:55
by isabelle
Thank you both so much for your help - I'm really grateful to be able to come on here and pick your brains!

Lin, I've attached a new picture of the enclosure here - you might be able to just spot her in the far right hand corner attempting to climb, which is exactly how she tips herself over.

Do you think more rocks or substrate hills and plants in or near the corners would help? And if rocks, would big chunky ones or a few smaller ones be best?

Nina, good to hear that it's not super dangerous, although it's still worrying me a bit...especially if her falling asleep like that means she'd been stuck for a while. At least at the moment she's outside having natural sunlight instead of a heat lamp, and the sun moves around her table so the longest that one corner would ever be in direct sunlight is 2.5 hours I think, so if we were out all day and she got stuck she wouldn't be in direct sunlight for hours on end.

P.S. she usually has more than just that slither of sunlight, don't worry - we'd just leaned a big plank of wood against the railing and it was blocking the sun!


Re: Flipping over - anything to worry about?

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 13:04
by isabelle
I just wrote that message and then looked over and she'd done it again - definitely within the last five minutes as I've been right next to her and she was just eating some opuntia flower! But she was already lying there completely still and not trying to wiggle over. Is that abnormally quick for a tortoise to give up on righting herself?!

Re: Flipping over - anything to worry about?

Posted: 30 Jun 2020, 14:17
by lin
They do take breaks during trying to right themselves Isabelle and they will also empty their bladder and bowels after a time. IMO these offers two things, it makes the tortoise lighter and it also gived some moisture allowing for traction. I dont know how deep your substrate is but do you think it might help if it has a few more inches on top so that when she wiggles it allows her to make a dip and allow her to manover herself into a position to right herself?
Just to show you, this is how its done. ... 746551892/