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Why Your New Tortoise Is Not Eating!

A wide range of species of reptiles are seeing spikes in their popularity right now and although a pet tortoise is still no where near as popular as something like a leopard gecko, ball python, or corn snake, most species of tortoise have seen solid growth in their popularity over the last couple of years.

With there being so many people new to keeping a pet tortoise out there, we have noticed more and more people reaching out with various problems with the most common one being issued with their new tortoise not eating.

The most common reasons that a new tortoise will not eat is due to being kept in an unsuitable habitat, people using a heat mat to warm their tortoise habitat, or just due to being new as tortoises really don’t like change and if you have only had your tortoise a couple of days then it may just not be eating while it adjusts to its new home.

Thankfully, the more serious causes of a tortoise not eating such as blockages or tumors are rare but they can still happen.

Keep in mind that most tortoise species can go a relatively long time without food and depending on the time of year, they may consume less than at other times of the year with this being normal.

One giveaway that your issue may be due to a more serious issue with your pet tortoise is if it is not eating or drinking as they really do need to hydrate regularly.

If you notice that your pet tortoise is also not drinking then we would recommend that you book a video call with a veterinarian as soon as possible to get professional advice on the situation as this could potentially be a serious problem.

Is It Normal For A New Tortoise Not To Eat?

In certain situations, it can be normal for your pet tortoise not to eat with this usually being when you first put your tortoise into a new environment or during the colder times of the year.

The age of the tortoise and if it is a species that will brumate also can cause your tortoise to eat less or not eat at all for an extended period of time.

Keep in mind that this is general advice covering a range of different tortoise species that do not apply to all species of tortoise.

On top of that, the specific personality traits of your tortoise will come into play as to if it will eat normally when placed in a new environment or not too. It is very common for a new tortoise in a new home to not eat much though with most tortoises really not liking change.

The issues covered in this section of the article are all relatively common traits that are found in multiple species of tortoise and are natural reasons that your tortoise may not eat or may eat less.

They are generally nothing to worry about but people new to keeping a pet tortoise may end up accidentally adding additional elements to their pet tortoises environment that can also cause it to eat less with the causes in the next section of our article usually being easy to fix.

Why Is My New Tortoise Not Eating?

Tortoises will usually not eat anything for the first couple of days in a new home with this being totally normal.

A very common problem that can cause a new tortoise to not eat is that they are kept in a general reptile vivarium that are generally a poor home for a tortoise and have a number of problems that can prevent your tortoise from eating.

In our opinion, you should always be using a tortoise tank rather than a general vivarium for your pet tortoise to live in with there being some excellent budget friendly and more expensive options available depending on your budget.

These are more suited to your pet tortoise’s needs and will commonly work out much cheaper than an actual vivarium anyway.

In addition to putting a new tortoise into a vivarium, some people new to caring for a pet tortoise will also use a heat mat as their heating solution with the cheaper heat mats generally being terrible.

Although there are some decent heat mats on the market, they are more expensive and often cost more than the alternative heating methods.

The cheaper heat mats can affect how much your pet tortoise will eat due to either providing a temperature too high or low for your tortoise or having an inconsistent, constantly fluctuating temperature.

How Do I Get My New Tortoise To Eat?

If your new tortoise is not eating then offering small amounts of fresh food each day is usually the best way to ensure that your tortoise will eat when it gets hungry.

Keeping your tortoise in a suitable environment with a suitable, constant temperature range is also a great way to help encourage your pet tortoise to eat too.

As we mentioned earlier in the article, there are a number of situations where it is considered normal and natural for a tortoise not to eat and if this is why your tortoise is not eating then there is usually nothing you are able to do other than make sure there is fresh food available incase your tortoise decides to eat.

You should also try to keep your tortoises environment as clean as possible too as the smells that poop and pee can give off over time may cause a tortoise to eat less than normal.

Blockages and tumors as well as other serious health issues are less common in tortoises than some other species of reptiles but they can still happen.

If you do suspect that your tortoise is not eating due to a health issue then you really do need to get professional advice form a vet as soon as possible. The sooner you take action, the more likely it is that your pet tortoise will be able to make a full recovery so there is no time to waste.


That brings our article going over why your new tortoise is not eating to an end. We would guess that the majority of our readers will fall into either of the first two categories that we covered above and your tortoise will not be eating due to natural reasons or due to a problem with its environment that is usually easy to fix. If you do suspect that your new pet tortoise is not eating due to having a problem with its health then we really can’t stress how important it is to get advice form a veterinarian as soon as possible.