What Happens If A Tortoise Ends Up On Their Back?

Will a tortoise that has flipped onto its back inevitably die?

Will a tortoise that has flipped onto its back inevitably die?


Armored animals can easily lose their balance and fall on their back, where they are vulnerable to exposure, starvation and predation

For a tortoise it is a deadly serious matter; being able to right itself counts as one of life’s epic struggles, a potential matter of life and death. Tortoises, however, have evolved to do it. Flipped animals could balance again by some methods:

Twisting their bodies: Tortoises are particularly susceptible, being unable to flip themselves by twisting their bodies inside their shells.

Shape of shell: The shape of tortoise shell (its height and length) helps them to rise again when become inverted. Their evolution made them so. Some factors like their size, strength determine the necessary time to recover the balance.


Some interesting points:

-Tortoises with more curvaceous shells, rather than flat shells, were more able to right themselves.

-A significant relationship between sell size and righting performance; with bigger tortoises struggling to right themselves more than smaller tortoises, a phenomenon far more pronounced in males than females (Female tortoises grow larger than males). Bigger tortoises run the risk of being stranded upside down.

-Male tortoises like to fight each other, by actively attempting to flip their rivals onto their backs! Large size is beneficial, as larger tortoises are likely to win the fights. But if the larger tortoise lose, they may literally be left flat on their backs.

-They may also help each other!!


By Raman Ali,