Tortoise on its back

TammyJ

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I have always wondered what exactly happens to a tortoise when it is on its back and cannot right itself. No injuries or illnesses or in the sun or under a lamp. Just stuck on its back. What happens to it physically, and how long can it survive like that?
 

KarenSoCal

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I have always wondered what exactly happens to a tortoise when it is on its back and cannot right itself. No injuries or illnesses or in the sun or under a lamp. Just stuck on its back. What happens to it physically, and how long can it survive like that?
I'm sure someone else will reply, but this is what I understand about that.

The carapace, starting from the outside, is keratin as level one. Under the keratin is bone. Under the bone is the lungs. Under the lungs are the other organs...stomach, liver, etc.

So if you turn him upside down, you have the weight of the other organs pressing down on the lungs.

I don't know how long it takes, but the tort becomes so exhausted that the lungs can no longer lift the weight of the organs, and he suffocates.

This is how I understand it to be...I'll bet @zovick will know better than me.
 

TammyJ

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I'm sure someone else will reply, but this is what I understand about that.

The carapace, starting from the outside, is keratin as level one. Under the keratin is bone. Under the bone is the lungs. Under the lungs are the other organs...stomach, liver, etc.

So if you turn him upside down, you have the weight of the other organs pressing down on the lungs.

I don't know how long it takes, but the tort becomes so exhausted that the lungs can no longer lift the weight of the organs, and he suffocates.

This is how I understand it to be...I'll bet @zovick will know better than me.
Thanks. I once had a RES turtle that was really good at flipping back upright, no problem for her. She was a fully grown adult, and heavy. She flipped real quick, using her head and legs.
 

KarenSoCal

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Thanks. I once had a RES turtle that was really good at flipping back upright, no problem for her. She was a fully grown adult, and heavy. She flipped real quick, using her head and legs.
My Burmese Star has flipped a few times. But he has a high enough dome that he rolls to one side, putting 2 feet on the ground. It takes a couple tries, but he gets up on his own.
 

TammyJ

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My Burmese Star has flipped a few times. But he has a high enough dome that he rolls to one side, putting 2 feet on the ground. It takes a couple tries, but he gets up on his own.
It seems that the smoother the shell and the higher the dome, the easier it would be for them to turn back over? That would mean that if the tortoise was pyramided or flattish, it may be quite impossible!?
 

DoubleD1996!

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I have always wondered what exactly happens to a tortoise when it is on its back and cannot right itself. No injuries or illnesses or in the sun or under a lamp. Just stuck on its back. What happens to it physically, and how long can it survive like that?
Well, the lungs are on the back essentially. So, the pressure can be detrimental. Turtles and tortoises will often times go to the bathroom to relieve some of the pressure. On one of my hikes, I see some box turtles on their backs on the beach when they try to ascend the hill. They usually use their necks to get up, but if they can't it can be dangerous. I usually see poop next to them and they evert themselves sometimes. When you right them up they sound like a deflating balloon. Depending how long they've been flipped.
 

maggie3fan

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In the wild tortoises fight using their gular to flip the other tort then the tort sets down on the back of the upended tortoise, then the tort who's upside down dies. Also, if you do have a tort on it's back when you turn them over be careful how you flip them back...you might could twist there intestines...kills'em
 

TammyJ

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In the wild tortoises fight using their gular to flip the other tort then the tort sets down on the back of the upended tortoise, then the tort who's upside down dies. Also, if you do have a tort on it's back when you turn them over be careful how you flip them back...you might could twist there intestines...kills'em
Wow! So do it very slowly, right?
 

Sarah2020

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It seems that the smoother the shell and the higher the dome, the easier it would be for them to turn back over? That would mean that if the tortoise was pyramided or flattish, it may be quite impossible!?
I had 3 hatchlings that persistently flipped. I ended removing anything that caused them to topple. Agree flipping cause pressure on their internal organs. Mostly mine self righted as they rocked s8de to side and had claws in all directions until they found something to grip and self right. I also knew if a flip had occured as the top scutes were scrapped or dirty. Eventually gravity took over and 3 went to 1 and flipping stopped years later.
 

maggie3fan

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I had a 100+ lb male Sulcata and I came home from somewhere and Bob was on his back...I ran out and he was still but all around him were signs of a serious struggle, the grass was torn up and big grooves dug in the ground around him. He had pooped and peed and that was all over him...he was quiet and not moving...so as I "tried" to carefully turn him over...he fought me like hell and then plop... bang... crash...he crashed into the ground hard then just acted kinda dizzy. He was so magnificent that seeing him in that situation made me cry...it's awful to see a big tort like that...Look at this gular...huge nasty looking and can be deadly to another tort... 100 2187
 

TammyJ

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I had a 100+ lb male Sulcata and I came home from somewhere and Bob was on his back...I ran out and he was still but all around him were signs of a serious struggle, the grass was torn up and big grooves dug in the ground around him. He had pooped and peed and that was all over him...he was quiet and not moving...so as I "tried" to carefully turn him over...he fought me like hell and then plop... bang... crash...he crashed into the ground hard then just acted kinda dizzy. He was so magnificent that seeing him in that situation made me cry...it's awful to see a big tort like that...Look at this gular...huge nasty looking and can be deadly to another tort... View attachment 344807
That is awesome, I would cry too.
 

KarenSoCal

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I ran out and he was still but all around him were signs of a serious struggle, the grass was torn up and big grooves dug in the ground around him.

Sorry Maggie, I thought from this description that Bob had been in a fight. Now I realize Bob himself was the struggler.
Poor guy!
 

TaylorTortoise

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It's probably the most terrifying thing, finding your tortoise on it's back. especially if you were not attending too it. I have cameras on mine, but when I check sometimes I see him flipped, and I am lucky enough to get him to flip back over in time. Sometimes, I have watched my mango flip himself back over.... it is scary.
 

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