Why Is My Turtle Trying To Climb Out And Escape

Why Is My Turtle Trying To Climb Out And Escape?

Have you just caught your turtle trying to climb out of its turtle tank? Are you wondering why it wants to get out and what you should do to stop it from trying to escape? If yes, this guide will give you all the answers you seek.

Why is my turtle trying to climb out and escape? Your turtle is trying to escape because it doesn’t feel comfortable in its habitat probably due to limited tank space, inappropriate temperature, dirty water in its tank, too much heat in the basking area, etc. Your turtle may also want to escape its tank due to stress, boredom, pregnancy, and hunger.

Read the following guide for more details on why your turtle is trying to climb out and escape your turtle tank and you can stop it from doing so. We’ve also discussed whether a turtle can easily escape its tank and what to do if you find your turtle has already escaped.

Why is my turtle trying to escape?


It’s not uncommon for your turtle to try to climb out and escape and many turtle owners have expressed this experience in various forums and YouTube channels.

However, some turtles can live in their tanks for long periods of time without showing signs of wanting to get out.

Why is my turtle trying to escape

Here are the most common reasons why your turtle is trying to escape from its turtle tank:

Poor living conditions

The most common reason why your turtle wants to get out of its tank is due to poor living conditions in its habitat. There are a lot of conditions that a tank must meet to make it hospitable for your turtle.

If none of these conditions are met, your turtle will not want to continue staying in the tank and will try to get out.

The key areas of a turtle living space that may compromise its comfort include lack of enough tank space, improper tank water temperature, lack of a basking spot or improperly set basking area, and failure to change the tank water regularly.


Turtles can also get easily stressed. And when they do, they may want to get out of their enclosure. Some of the most common causes of stress in these animals include excessive noise or vibrations near their tank, other pets in the house, improper handling, etc.

A stressed turtle may also stop eating or basking, and go into hiding (if the tank has hiding areas). Sometimes it may just want to get out of that tank!

turtle trying to escape Stress

In this situation, the best thing to do is try to eliminate the stress-causing factor and hopefully, your turtle will calm down and start acting normal again.

Hunger or a poor diet

If you don’t feed your turtles enough diet or the right type of food, they may also try to escape in search of food. Turtles are generally omnivorous animals and you need to ensure their diet is made up of not just commercial food but other food varieties.

A balanced diet for turtle should contain fish, meat, dried insects, pellets, fruits, and vegetables.

Besides, make sure your turtle gives the right amount of food, not too small and not too much so that they become obese.

To get this right, follow the size of turtle head rule which states that the amount of food you give your turtle should be approximately the size of its head without the neck.


If you’re keeping a female turtle, then you should keep in mind that it will need to lay eggs at some point, whether there’s a male tank mate or not. When the turtle is about to lay eggs, it is referred to as being pregnant.

During this period, you can expect it to show unusual behavior such as failing to eat, not basking, trying to dig everywhere in the tank, and trying to escape its aquarium to find a perfect place to lay her eggs.

In this situation, there’s nothing much you can do to make your turtle calm down. just wait for her to lay the eggs and then calm down and start behaving normally as before.

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Boredom is another likely cause for your turtle to try and escape its tank. Turtles in the wild enjoy a lot of freedom as they can roam freely and play as much as they.

But a captive turtle living in an enclosure has its freedom limited and this can get them easily bored if they stay in the same place for long periods of time and try to escape.

To keep boredom from catching up with your turtle, you should consider providing them with a stimulating environment by introducing toys, hiding treats to make them look for them, introducing live foods in the tank, adding tank makes to their tank, and so on.

Also, you should consider taking your turtle out of its tank and letting it freely roam your backyard. But don’t leave it unsupervised for safety reasons.

In case you don’t have a backyard, you can let your pet roam around your living room.

Why does my turtle keep trying to climb out?

There are many reasons why your turtle is trying to climb out of its tank, but the most common one is the poor living conditions in the tank.

Your turtle wanting to climb out may have something to do with inappropriate temperatures in its habitat, unclean and contaminated water, lack of basking spot, inappropriate basking spot temperatures, and a small tank space where it can swim and move around freely.

Why does my turtle keep trying to climb out

If you check all these areas and they seem to be alright, then you may want to check if you feed your turtle the right amount of food and a balanced diet.

Other reasons for turtles trying to climb out include stress and anxiety, boredom, and pregnancy (for female turtles).

How do I stop my turtle from climbing the tank and escaping?

If your pet turtle is trying to escape, then you need to take action immediately and put various measures in place to keep it from climbing the tank and escaping.

One such measure is to provide your pet with a suitable habitat for them. You want to ensure your turtle enclosure replicates the natural habitat of a wild turtle.

And you can achieve this by getting a spacious tank for your turtle, ensuring there’s enough water in the tank, providing a basking area with adequate UV lighting, introducing hiding spots in the tank, and ensuring the water is set at the right temperature of around 75 and 80 degrees F.

Also, make sure you make its environment stimulating (both physically and mentally) by introducing live foods, and toys to play with, hiding their treats, introducing other tank mates, changing the décor once in a while, and so on.

How do I stop my turtle from climbing the tank and escaping

Another measure to stop your turtle from escaping is to clean its tank regularly. Ensure you do a partial water change at least once every week. This will help keep the water quality in check so your turtle can stay in its tank without feeling uncomfortable.

Add a powerful filter system to your turtle tank to ensure the water remains clean at all times. And be sure to come up with a cleaning routine for the tank.

Above all, make sure you get rid of all stress factors that may make your turtle stressed and anxious and want to get out of its tank.

The video below shares great tips on how to escape-proof your turtle tank

Can turtle climb out of a tank by itself?

Yes, turtles are good climbers than you may think and can easily climb out of their tank and crawl away. This is especially true if your turtle has something to latch on such as rocks, fake plants, wires from the heaters, and other objects you put in its tank.

But if they only have a flat and smooth surface, they won’t get a place to grip, and climbing out will not be easy for them.

Can turtle climb out of a tank by itself

Also, if the water/land level is high enough and you don’t have a lid placed on top of your turtle tank, your turtle will have an easy time getting out.

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That’s why it’s recommended to have a lid on your turtle; it can be a screen or mesh, to minimize the chances of your turtle climbing out. An added advantage of using a lid is that it helps keep cats, insects, flies, etc. out of your turtle tank.

My turtle escaped his tank, what do I do?

If your turtle has already escaped, you can get quite confused as to what to do. You have no clue where to look for it and you’re worried that it may dry out from staying out of the tank for long given that it’s an aquatic animal.

So, what should you do in such a scenario?

If your turtle escapes its tank and ran away, you should first carefully search every corner of its enclosure to confirm that they’ve indeed escaped its tank and is not hiding somewhere inside your tank.

Inspect if your turtle is hiding under any of the plants in the tank or if it has burrowed itself in the substrate.

My turtle escaped his tank

If you still can’t find your turtle, go ahead and search the nearest water bodies. Turtles are great navigators and can sense nearby waterbodies such as ponds and rivers, so you need to follow the direction of the waterbody and you may be surprised to find your turtle on its way to the waters.

If you still can’t find your turtle, try leaving food near its tank. This will help draw them out if they’re still nearby. If possible, leave live food baits or insects as they have a stronger scent and will easily draw the turtle compared to commercial foods.

If this doesn’t work, then it’s time to make a poster for a missing turtle and set it around your neighborhood. And be sure to give as much detail as possible regarding your lost turtle.

Related Questions:

1. Why does my turtle keep digging and trying to get out

If your turtle keeps digging and is trying to get out, it could mean she’s pregnant and is looking for a suitable place to lay her eggs or has already laid the eggs. Checking for additional signs of a pregnant turtle will help you establish if your turtle is indeed pregnant. It could also mean that your turtle is hungry and trying to look for food or it is stressed or scared and is trying to hide from something or the surroundings.

2. Should I let my turtle out of its tank?

Yes, it is advisable to let your turtle out of its tank occasionally. This helps stimulate your pet both mentally and physically and helps fulfill its desire to roam around freely and explore. But make sure you supervise your turtle as it walks around for safety reasons.

Final Verdict

We hope this article has provided you with helpful insights about why your turtle is always trying to climb out of its tank and escape. The most common reason is poor tank living conditions. Other reasons why your turtle wants to get out of its tank include hunger, poor diet, boredom, stress and anxiety, and pregnancy.

Keeping your tank clean and ensuring it has all the required conditions for a comfortable turtle habitat will go a long way in keeping your turtle from wanting to escape. Making its habitat stimulating will kill boredom and keep him/her from wanting to get out. Investing in a lid for your turtle will also minimize the chances of your turtle escaping and running away.

Why Is My Turtle Trying To Climb Out And Escape