Tortoise Rocking Back And Forth (2 Reasons Why + What To Do)

Tortoises are very interesting creatures who have been around for millions of years and who haven’t changed for millions of years. They are known for walking at a very slow and steady pace, not for rocking back and forth 

If your tortoise starts rocking back and forth you’d understandably start to worry and wonder why.


Tortoise rocking back and forth:

The movements that tortoises make are slow and deliberate, they don’t make any movements just because, and this includes the back-and-forth rocking that you’re seeing.

You may have observed this unusual behavior for a while and wondered why the tortoises do this, this article looks into why this behavior happens.

Normal breathing:

One reason why your tortoise may be rocking back and forth may simply be that the animal is breathing.

Tortoises breathe differently than humans, when they breathe their lungs expand while in their shell and their whole body moves as they breathe. 

As a result, you may see some movement in the animal as it breathes like the animal rocking back and forth.

 You will usually see the animal’s legs rocking back and forth but the animal’s body may rock back and forth sometimes as well.

This is more of a slight pumping movement in tortoises and it happens with each breath. 

What to do:

This is normal and isn’t something to worry about, tortoises do this and some may simply move more than others when they breathe. 

As long as you aren’t seeing any signs of distress or illness along with this rocking then your pet should be fine.

That being said, while this is normal behavior, if you’re worried that your tortoise is doing this then a check-up with the vet or better yet, with a Herp vet, may be helpful.


One other reason why your tortoise may be rocking back and forth may be that the little reptile is stressed. 

Changes in the environment can cause stress, anything from loud noises, to frequent handling and training can cause your pet to develop stress. 

Another sign that signals that your pet is stressed is it shelling up. Shelling up is when the animal withdraws its head and limbs into its shell.

This is done when the animal feels threatened in the wild and when it feels stressed.

Visible movement in the animal’s throat can indicate that the animal’s breathing rate is up and that it feels stressed.

You may also be able to hear your pet breathing when it is stressed. 

What to do:

Because change can cause your pet to become stressed maintaining a consistent environment will keep your pet calm and minimize stress.

If you’re training your pet don’t try to force it to do anything, only train your pet when it opts into being trained, if it resists then take a break or put your pet in an enclosure and try to train the animal on another day. 

This will in turn mean that the training process of your pet will go slower but is needed to keep your pet comfortable.

If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other turtle/tortoise related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Tortoise Shaking Head Side To SideWhy Is My Tortoise Shaking?Tortoise Making Croaking NoiseBaby Tortoise Rocking Back And Forth, Tortoise Throwing Up White FoamTortoise Throwing Up BloodHow To Bond With Your TortoiseTurtle Vomiting WhiteHow To Discipline A Tortoise

Tortoise Rocking Back And Forth (2 Reasons Why + What To Do)
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