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tortoise flipping on back problem


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#1 awwaw

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 01:29 AM

this afternoon i came home to find an upside-down tortoise in the tank. i turned it back the right way immediately, and he seems okay. but this happens pretty often and i know it is dangerous, especially when the tortoise can't seem to flip itself back the right way up. i'm really worried that he may flip around one day and may not be able to get help immediately.

is there any way i can help train my tortoise to be able to flip itself back, or are there any preventive measures i can take, since i can't be home all the time? does anybody know how long a tortoise can survive on its back? (or on its side? since the tortoise sometimes flips onto its side...)

my tort is a four year old burmese star.

would appreciate any help on this topic, thanks!

#2 LisaD

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 05:55 AM

You have a 4 year old star in a tank like an aquarium or terranium? What size is the tank and please post a photo of the entire enclosure so we can help make suggestions to curb the issue-difficult to do without seeing the habitat. It sounds as if it is a tank and the sides are perhaps not covered yours can see out and thus wants out-this causes stress as well as flipping. It may also be whatever home he is in doesn't have the corners blocked off and thus he/she is trying to pace and escape at the corners and flipping that way. Are the corners the flip area or is out of a to steep water bowl or from the top of a hide log or something of that nature? The only way to prevent this from occuring is to tweak the husbandry. It is a dangerous situation as you already know if not righted.

#3 awwaw

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 08:09 AM

thanks for replying!

it's a glass aquarium around 70cm long. i don't have a digicam, so i can't post a picture of it. real sorry about that. :( as for substrate i use paper towels (recommended by the vet), so the aquarium has a mostly flat surface throughout.

will covering the sides help, though? because he flips at random spots. if i want to cover up the sides, should i cover the whole tank or just up to a section? what should i use to cover it up with?

thanks again!

#4 Take-One

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 01:15 PM

Glass. It your problem. Cover all sides.

#5 awwaw

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 05:51 PM

thanks for the reply again!

i will cover the glass, but i thought i'd just highlight that he used to do the flipping trick when we housed him in a box as well. the box had solid walls that could not be seen through.

also, i was serious when i asked about whether there is any way to train him to flip back. would really appreciate any help on this subject too! thanks! :)

#6 BoxCzarina

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 07:39 PM

What I learned with Boxie is that poor muscle tone was keeping her from righting herself.
But she is a box turtle that was confined to an aquarium for 11 years and had very little exercise.
Giving her plenty of free range time in the backyard strengthened her dramatically.
How much exercise does your tortoise get?

#7 awwaw

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 04:51 PM

What I learned with Boxie is that poor muscle tone was keeping her from righting herself.
But she is a box turtle that was confined to an aquarium for 11 years and had very little exercise.
Giving her plenty of free range time in the backyard strengthened her dramatically.
How much exercise does your tortoise get?


not much, because i live in a sort of rented room on the 7th storey and we have no garden or yards or anything of that sort. i could let him wander around the living room but i doubt that would help much, not to mention the owner of the house might not be too pleased with it. :( maybe i should just let it wander around my room every now and then?

#8 LisaD

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 08:07 PM

Yours is a case of your tortoise in a glass home cover the sides so he can't see out-yes it will help- and/or move your tortoise into a tortoise table or other acceptable housing and soon. No, to your bold sttement you can't unless you fix the husbandry. Your tortoise as mentioned needs excercise too. Cover with newspaper, wrapping paper, aquarium backgrounds,-anything. At 4 years your tortoise is aging that glass may be too small for him perhaps seriosuly consider a different substrate as well as another forum of housing. If was housed in the box he could ahve been flipping from trying to climb the sides even with covered side so he still may try to climb the sides with cover on his tank so block off the corners and soon try to change the habitat.

#9 Amanda1

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 05:46 AM

I just went through this and thought it was going to drive me nuts LOL The fix for me was using a substrate of hay, orchard grass hay. I have no idea why it worked but it did for me. Try it! I was afraid to leave the house. Also, glass causes torts stress because they can see out. Maybe try a rubbermid tub or covering the glass with aquarium backing paper, something the tort cannot see through. Would like to see a pic as well of the current enclosure.

#10 lspiderl

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 05:45 PM

make sure there is nothing on the sides it can grip ahold of and partialy climb

#11 awwaw

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 07:43 AM

well i've covered the glass as suggested. hope it stops him from turning around anymore! thanks for all the suggestions! :D

#12 animal kingdom

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 08:00 PM

I posted a concern not too long ago about one of my desert tortoises who was always flipping himself upside down. I think that he actually enjoys it!

He still does it, but not as often as he used to. He still falls asleep upside down sometimes, and no worse for wear. However, right now, he is still in a 6-to mesh cage, and not out in the open. That is where the real danger is - when they are not able to right themselves, and out there in the sun, or rain, or just exposed to prey such as hawks.

For your star, as the others have already said, the glass can be an issue. If he can see out, then he will want to try to get out there. Besides covering the glass, keep "climbing" opportunities away from the corners, where they can often try to climb up and flip off and back/over.

#13 Morpheus the Tortoise

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 08:59 AM

thanks for the reply again!

i will cover the glass, but i thought i'd just highlight that he used to do the flipping trick when we housed him in a box as well. the box had solid walls that could not be seen through.

also, i was serious when i asked about whether there is any way to train him to flip back. would really appreciate any help on this subject too! thanks! :)




I have a similar problem with my tortoise-he is constantly flipping over on his back. However, tortoises are unlike other types of turtles in that they are unable to flip themselves over. There is nothing wrong with your tortoise-no matter how much excercise he gets- he will NOT be ABLE to right himself. That being said I also need help preventing my tortoise from flipping over.

#14 Capt Morgan

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 11:12 PM

Your turtle should right itself. If you see it flipped over watch it for a moment and see if it will flip itself back over. My leopards flipped on their backs the first 2 months. At first I put them right side up but after a moment I started watching them and the tried and did flip themselfs back over. Just give them a chance to do it themselves. Give them something in the cage to push up against...rock, food, water bowl.

Hope your tort get right side up...

#15 shelledfriends

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 02:26 PM

As Capt. Morgan suggested you need decor in your enclosure that the animal can use to right itself up.

Amanda, I think the hay worked for you because it gave the tortoises something to pull themselves with. I have not seen any of my tortoises on their back for a long time, ever since I started using large and engaging enclosures that gives them something to do, like dig or soak.

Michael

#16 hazeydazey85

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 12:29 PM

I can understand if the tortoise is upside down and its head is under water.. which would be a problem. I work with tortoises all day everyday, which includes ten or more current species of tortoises and turtles, and I have seen them turn themselves over time and time again. Unless it is a pancake turtles have round shells. This allows them to rock back and forth and eventually gets them on their sides. They can move their head and legs to one side which shifts their weight. It's basic physics to those that think it is impossible. It's something the tortoise or turtle has to learn on its own. If every turtle died when it turned upside down, than they would all be extinct.

Edited by hazeydazey85, 19 June 2009 - 12:30 PM.


#17 Millerlite

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 04:21 PM

with my greek tortoises, i when they flipped and i was there watching them, i didnt help them back over until i really knew they gave up, over time and letting them try first they learned how to right them selves up and can do it like a pro. Most captive torts. dont learn to right them selves over, i think they really need to learn to do it, its instinct but they seem to need practice or something, because once my greeks knew the way to do it, they were masters.

#18 MarkMarcianoESQ

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 06:57 AM

make sure there is nothing on the sides it can grip ahold of and partialy climb

This is the problem I had with my smaller Sulcata. Found him a few times on his back, then once caught him climbing on his curved wooden house and fell off.

#19 testudo

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 12:37 PM

You keep a Burmese Star in a glass tank? It really needs a BIG tortoise table, or a pen. One thing to do as prevention is to have a sloped terrain in its envirement and to have small plants growing in its home - like clover or rose of sharon - to assist it in flipping over. One more thing - don't keep a burmese star in a glass tank . . . please . . .




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