Why is My Tortoise Not Moving? (Reasons and Solutions)

If your tortoise isn’t moving, there are several potential reasons for this, including illness, dehydration, stress, or being too cold. In this post, I’ll explain the different reasons, give some solutions, and let you know what to watch for if your tortoise is not getting better.

So read on for all the info you need to help your tortoise get up and moving again!

When it comes to pet tortoises, one of the most common questions is “Why isn’t my tortoise moving?” In many cases, the answer may be that the tortoise is simply hibernating.

The Causes of Tortoise Inactivity

Here are five common causes of tortoise inactivity:


The most common cause of tortoise inactivity is temperature change. Tortoises are ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals and as such, their body temperature is closely linked to the ambient environment. If the ambient temperature falls below a tortoise’s natural body temperature, it will become inactive in order to conserve energy.

If your tortoise does not have access to a proper enclosure or shelter during colder weather periods, it may also become inactive due to a lack of warmth and protection from the elements.

Illness or Dehydration

tortoise illness and dehydratioin

If your tortoise is inactive and you can’t figure out why, the first thing you should do is take them to the vet. There, a trained professional can help you figure out whether your tortoise is sick or just stressed.

One of the most common illnesses that can cause tortoise inactivity is a respiratory infection, such as pneumonia. Other symptoms of this illness include wheezing, discharge from the nose or mouth, swollen eyelids, and loss of appetite.

Bone disease is another potential cause of tortoise inactivity. This condition often leads to pain and stiffness in the joints, which can make it difficult for your tortoise to move around.

Illness or injury can prevent your tortoise from moving around, eating, drinking, or defecating. Tortoises with this condition can become dehydrated.

You should give your tortoise fresh water and food at all times, and seek veterinary care if necessary.

Poor Nutrition

Tortoises require a high-quality diet that includes hay, fresh vegetables and fruit, and pellets made from ground-up meat or insects. If your tortoise isn’t getting enough food, it will become inactive due to hunger pangs.

Environmental Stress

Tortoises living in hot climates or areas with excessive noise may become inactive because they’re unable to escape danger or find food easily. Try providing a shady spot for your tortoise as well as plenty of toys and places to hide so it doesn’t feel stressed out all the time.

Lack of Space

tortoise inside enclosure

When there’s not enough room for your tortoise inside its enclosure (or when you move it frequently), it may become inactive because it feels insecure. You can solve this problem by making an outdoor enclosure that is big enough for your tortoise plus some extra space outside so he has somewhere safe to go when you’re not around.

When and Why Do Tortoises Hibernate?

As the season change and the temperature gets colder, outdoor tortoises begin to prepare for winter by hibernating. Tortoises have a lower body temperature than other animals of their size because they lack an efficient way to dissipate heat. When it’s cold outside, their bodies can’t generate enough warmth so they go into hibernation to conserve energy.

Hibernation is a natural process that helps animals survive the cold weather when food is scarce. Tortoises are one type of animal that may hibernate during the winter months. Not all tortoises hibernate, but those that live in areas with cold winters are more likely to do so.

How to Get the Tortoise Moving (5 Helpful Ways)

If you have a pet tortoise that isn’t moving as much as you’d like, there are a few things you can do to help. Here are 5 helpful ways to get your tortoise moving:

  1. Take them out of their shell – Tortoises love to explore and will be more likely to move around if they’re not cooped up in their shell all the time. Give them some time out of their shell each day to roam around and stretch their legs.
  2. Offer them food – Most tortoises are motivated by food, so offering them a treat may help encourage them to move around more. Try offering them their favorite vegetables or fruits, or even some live insects if they’re carnivorous.
  3. Put them in warm water – If your tortoise isn’t moving much, it could be because they’re too cold. Soaking them in warm water for a few minutes may help stimulate them to move around.
  4. Stimulate them with a toy – Try using a wand toy or other stimulating toy to get your tortoise moving.
  5. Hang a leaf above their enclosure – if your tortoise is a ground dweller, try hanging a leaf or other object above their enclosure. This may encourage them to move up and out of the basking area and walk around on the ground.