Tortoise Not Eating Or Pooping – Vet Tells What To Do

Tortoises are one of the most popular pets in the world. They’re low-maintenance, don’t require a lot of space, and they can live for up to 100 years! But if your tortoise is not eating or pooping, you might be wondering what’s wrong. Here are some things to do if your tortoise isn’t eating or pooping.

Continue reading for more information about how to care for your pet tortoise!

First, let us take a look at some common reasons for a tortoise not eating or pooping:

  • Stress
  • Illness such as intestinal parasites, infectious blood disease, antifungal mycosis of the liver, or bacterial septicaemia
  • Injury to the mouth and throat including laceration of tongue (e.g., after falling from a branch), fractured jaw, or abscesses in mouth lining. A hematoma may develop on the tongue due to clogging of blood vessels when tongue is bitten by another tortoise.

If you have a pet tortoise, it is important to know that they can go for months without eating. This is because their metabolism slows down in the winter and they are hibernating.

You should be aware of this if you plan on having your tortoise as a pet during the winter time. It’s not uncommon for them to stop eating or pooping when they’re hibernating, so you should not necessarily have anything to worry too about much if your tortoise doesn’t eat or poop for weeks at a time.

If you are a tortoise lover, you may fascinate by the hard outer shell that is so robust to save your tortoise from physical harm. Your tortoise may look so strong, but its internal is not as strong as the outermost shell.

Your tortoise’s internal systems are very delicate and can be harmed with a bit of change or disturbance. If anything in the outside environment changes, the first system to be affected will be the digestive system. Disturbance in the system will lead to disturbance in the eating and pooping pattern.

There can be several causes for the disturbance in the eating and pooping behaviour of tortoises. The temperature difference on the outside can affect the digestive system, and your tortoise can stop eating.

In addition, travel can affect food intake because stress is one of the common conditions an organism doesn’t eat. Once the food is ingested, digested and absorbed, it becomes the poop and is released out of the body. So, there can be no poop if your tortoise is not eating.

Why Is My Tortoise Not Eating?

There can be several causes for the disturbance in the eating and pooping behaviour of tortoises. The temperature difference on the outside can affect the digestive system, and your tortoise can stop eating.

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In addition, travel can affect food intake because stress is one of the common conditions an organism doesn’t eat. Once the food is ingested, digested and absorbed, it becomes poop which is released out of your body so there will be no poop if your tortoise isn’t eating anything!

If you find your tortoise not eating, the solution is not to force-feed your tortoise. Further eating will increase the problem that first stopped your tortoise from eating.

The logical and systematic approach is to find out the problem because your tortoise is not eating and solve the problem so that your tortoise can continue its healthy life. Following are the common problems that can make your tortoise stop eating.


The tortoise is a cold-blooded animal, and they are unable to synthesize their body heat. Therefore, they need heat from outside sources, the sun being the primary heat source in the wild. However, in captive conditions, you need to provide the heat to keep their body temperature optimum. If somehow their body temperature is upset, the first organ system to be affected will be the digestive system.

Easy Access To Food

You may not consider this factor serious; however, it is a severe factor that affects the food intake of tortoises. You should have customized reptile food bowls to feed your tortoise. The bowl should have low sidewalls and sometimes a ramp for your tort to easily access the food.

What Are The Effects Of Hibernation And Lighting On Food Intake?

Yes! Proper lighting and hibernation affect your tortoise’s eating habits. Being a cold-blooded animal, your tortoise needs proper lighting to keep the body warm. UV light source is essential for your tortoise because your tortoise perceives the world in UV light. UV light helps your tortoise produce vitamin D and express normal behaviour. 

There are two types of UV lights, UVA and UVB. Sun emits both of these UV lights, and your aim should be to mimic the natural conditions as much as possible. If you disturb lighting, your tortoise will go into stress, and the digestive system will be upset.

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Hibernation is an essential behaviour of tortoises. If your tortoise has planned to go into hibernation, your tortoise will stop eating and go inside a burrow. Your tortoise will gradually decrease the metabolism rate and sleep for 12 to 22 weeks, depending on the age. 

If your tortoise is not eating, and apparently, she is not suffering from any disease, she must be preparing for hibernation. You should not disturb your tortoise in hibernation as it will lead to severe health concerns. Instead, you should help your tortoise go to sleep. You can help by not offering food and gradually lowering the temperature.

How Can I Help My Tortoise To Eat?

The best way to help your tortoise to eat is to feed them a varied diet. Offer dandelion leaves, clover, green beans, oranges (with the peel), carrots, romaine lettuce, grapefruit sections (with the peel), apples (no seeds), berries or any other type of fruit that can be collected in your home country.

The next best thing you can do is offer leaf vegetables like dandelions and clover. Tortoises like it when their food has both bold colors and distinctive shapes so make sure the pieces are large enough for him to grip with his jaws alone without need for wrapping it in his long tongue. And if he wants some variety at mealtime-offer orange sections without the

Next step is easy access. Make sure there are no obstacles in getting to a variety of food so they don’t have any excuse not to eat! Cleaning out old hay that’s on top might be enough encouragement for them sulking in the corner(or wherever they go!)

Also think about some more natural options for your torts diet sometimes if you’re concerned about them not eating.

If you are sure that your tortoise is not suffering from any disease and is not preparing for hibernation, there is a chance that your tortoise has become bored of eating.

In that case, you can encourage your tortoise by offering a variety of food and making the food attractive and exciting. Here are some steps that you can follow to encourage your tort to eat.

Switch Up The Food You Offer

Sometimes tortoises don’t like what you offer. They may act like children and want to eat different food. Adding a variety in food can encourage your tortoise to eat like normal.

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Add Moisture

You should add more moisture to the diet. Adding moisture to the diet will increase the palatability and digestibility of the diet. In addition, it will keep your tortoise hydrated. You can try soaking the food in water or fruit juice to increase the palatability of the food.

Add Colour

You should try offering a mixture of foods. Adding more colours to the diet make the food enjoyable, and your tortoise will be more attracted to the food.

Serve Live Food

Tortoise prefers live food; they are habitual of eating live food in the wild. Some species of tortoise add protein contents to their diet by eating worms, slugs and snails. So you can try offering live food to encourage your tort to eat like normal.

How Can I Help My Tortoise Poop?

If your tortoise hasn’t defecated in a while, you should monitor the matter. A lack of care could be the reason for the problem. Having had a good diet, and enough exercise will generally take care of it given enough time.

If after some time has passed and there’s still no sign of depositing waste, then you might need to investigate why this is happening.

If none of these are an issue and your tortoise is just not acting like normal then you can try giving them a healthy amount of living food (to provide vitamins), consider increasing their space to eliminate stress from overcrowding or contact a vet if there’s anything out of the ordinary happening with regards to eating or walking/moving about.

The first factor that comes to mind is your tortoise’s appetite and diet. If your tortoise is constipated, there must be some problem in the food intake. If your tortoise has stopped eating, she must be genuinely constipated. In that case, you need to focus on your tortoise’s diet and encourage her to eat correctly. However, there can be other causes of constipation.

If your tort is eating normally, your tort could be suffering from an intestinal parasite disease. Parasites damage the intestine and may or may not block the intestine. If the blockage does not occur, diarrhoea occurs. If parasites block the intestine, constipation occurs. The other causes of constipation include engulfing a bunch of hair. Your tort can engulf a bunch of your dog’s hair. In these cases, you immediately see a veterinarian.

Your tort is a very delicate animal and can be affected by mild changes in the outside environment. To keep your tort healthy, you need proper management of diet, lighting, temperature and hibernation.