Are Tortoises Aggressive? (5 Signs of Aggression)

Tortoises are often thought of as gentle creatures. However, they can be aggressive, especially if they feel threatened.

There are a few signs of aggression that you should be aware of if you have a pet tortoise. These include hissing, biting, ramming, chasing, and urinating more frequently. If you see any of these behaviors in your tortoise, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist to find out the cause and how to best address it.

In this post, I’ll discuss in detail the five signs of tortoise aggression and how you can deal with it. So, continue reading to learn more about your tortoise behavior.

5 Signs of Aggressive Tortoise Behavior

There are moments when tortoise behavior can become aggressive. Here are five signs to look out for:


Biting is one of the most common aggressive behaviors in tortoises. If your tortoise starts biting you or your belongings, it may be trying to send a message that it doesn’t want to be handled.

There are a few things you can do to try to stop your tortoise from biting. One is to offer it food when you first pick it up. Another is to gently stroke its head and neck. If these don’t work, you may need to give your tortoise some time to calm down before picking it up again.


Hissing is another common sign of aggression in tortoises. Tortoises hiss when they feel threatened or when they want to intimidate another animal or person. If you’re handling your tortoise and it starts hissing, that’s a sign that it’s feeling uncomfortable and wants you to stop. It’s best to back off and give it some space.

Hissing is just one of the ways that tortoises communicate their feelings. If you see your tortoise hissing, it’s important to try to figure out what’s causing the stress or aggression so you can help your pet feel more comfortable.


Another common sign of aggressive tortoise behavior is head-banging. This is when a tortoise will bump its head against you or another tortoise, usually in an attempt to assert dominance.

Head-butting can also be a sign of mating aggression, as males will often try to force themselves on females. If you see your tortoise engaging in this behavior, it’s best to separate them from any potential targets and keep a close eye on them.


When a tortoise chases another animal or person, it is exhibiting aggression. This type of behavior can be seen in both male and female tortoises and is often directed toward other tortoises of the same sex.

While chasing is not necessarily indicative of a desire to harm the other animal or person, it can often lead to physical confrontations that can result in injury.

If you observe your tortoise chasing another animal or person, it is best to remove the potential victim from the area to avoid any potential conflict.


If a tortoise begins urinating more often, it may be a sign that the animal is feeling stressed or threatened. This behavior is usually seen in males during the breeding season when they are competing for mates. However, females may also become aggressive when they feel their territory is being invaded by another tortoise.

If you notice your tortoise urinating more frequently, it’s important to try to identify the cause of the stress or aggression. If the problem cannot be resolved, it may be necessary to temporarily rehome a tortoise to avoid serious health issues.

How To Stop Your Tortoise From Being Aggressive

How To Stop Your Tortoise From Being Aggressive

If your tortoise is acting aggressively, there are a few things you can do to try to stop the behavior:

  • First, take a look at how you’re handling your tortoise. Are you being too rough? Tortoises are delicate creatures and need to be handled carefully.
  • If you’re handling your tortoise correctly, then the next thing to check is the environment. Is there something in the tortoise’s enclosure that is causing stress? Maybe there aren’t enough hiding spots or places for the tortoise to climb. Try to make the enclosure as close to their natural habitat as possible.
  • If you have two male tortoises together, it’s best to keep an eye on them. If they start fighting, you can break it up by separating them.
  • Food selection can also play a role in aggression. Some tortoises are more aggressive when they’re hungry. So, if your tortoise is acting aggressively, try giving him varied food.
  • Over-handling your tortoise can also lead to aggression. If you handle your tortoise too much, it may start to nip at your fingers or even bite. Avoid handling your tortoise when it is eating or sleeping.
  • Let your tortoise walk on its own whenever possible. If it wants to be left alone, respect its wishes and give it some space.

If the aggression continues, it might be a good idea to take your tortoise to the vet for a check-up.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Calm an Aggressive Tortoise?

The easiest way to calm an aggressive tortoise is to remove it from the situation that is causing it to be aggressive. If the tortoise is being aggressive because it feels threatened, then you can try to make it feel more secure by providing it with a hiding spot or some form of shelter.

If the tortoise is being aggressive because it is territorial, then you can try to reduce its territory by moving it to a smaller enclosure. Another way to calm an aggressive tortoise is to offer its favorite food. This will help to distract the tortoise from its aggression.

Why Does My Tortoise Sit on His Food?

There are a few reasons why your tortoise may be sitting on his food. One possibility is that he is feeling aggressive and is trying to assert dominance over his food. Another reason is that he wants to pee or poop on their water or food bowl. This is a perfectly natural behavior for tortoises and is nothing to be concerned about.

Are Tortoises Aggressive – Summary

Tortoises are not aggressive by nature. However, they can show aggression if they feel threatened or are provoked. If you have a pet tortoise, it is important to handle it with care and avoid doing anything that may cause it to become agitated.

However, if a tortoise is excessively aggressive, it may be a sign of a health problem. If you are concerned about your tortoise’s behavior, consult a veterinarian.