Can Tortoises walk Backwards? Science Explained!

Yes. Tortoises can walk backwards, but it is not something they do every day. Turning around is the best way to get out of a tight spot, but if you have to, walking backwards can help. Despite what we think, they’re really good at it.

You might not think much about how many different kinds of motor skills you have. Use your thumbs to help you grab things or take a few steps backwards. Besides, what about our pet pals? There are all kinds of things they’re good at, but can our pet tortoises walk backwards, too? Yes. Tortoises can walk backwards, but it is not something they do every day.

Turning around is the best way to get out of a tight spot, but if you have to, walking backwards can help. Despite what we think, they’re really good at it.

How’s that for a surprise motor skill? While our tortoises won’t be able to use their thumbs anytime soon, walking backwards is something they can do. Look at the internet and you may think they can’t, but this is a subject that is filled with lies and hearsay.

can tortoises walk backwards

The basics of tortoise movement

Even though tortoises have weird shapes and big shells to carry around, they can move very well. They can walk, saunter, and run, but not very well. They can, though. Tortoises don’t get the “zoomies” like a kitten or puppy, so they don’t chase their own tails as fast as they can.

It doesn’t matter how well the tortoise is or how warm it is. They can move pretty quickly, and woe be to anyone who is standing in the way of a large, determined tortoise!

Everyone agrees that tortoises are good at moving forward. They might even move a little to the side. Take a few steps back.

There is a lot of debate about this for some reason, but I don’t know why. Having a tortoise doesn’t take long for people who own them to figure out that they can move backwards if they need to.

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How do Tortoises Move Backwards? Do The Tortoise Shuffle!

Our words are very clear: “Scoot.” If a tortoise has strong legs, they can run through your potted plants, dig, and make a mess. But their flexibility and ability to go backwards is very limited. They can also get in the way.

But look at it from an evolutionary point of view. There is a good chance that tortoises wouldn’t be around today if they couldn’t move backwards at all. Torts in the wild? If tortoises didn’t have a way to get back up, they wouldn’t be able to last so long in the wild.

How do they do it?

They can’t see behind them very well. They aren’t able to move around enough to get a good view. They look a lot like a big dump truck without a mirror. But that doesn’t mean they won’t back up.

Tortoises use their powerful front legs as leverage to help their weaker back legs. They push the ground in order to help their back legs. This makes them turn a little as they back up. They push and scoot to make it work. It takes a while, but it can be done. When you watch an overloaded truck back out of a small driveway, it’s kind of like that.

Most tortoises have trouble with this, but not all of them. You can find a lot of tortoise species that are more flexible than your typical tortoise. For example, the pancake tortoise is more flexible than your typical tortoise. But even with this extra maneuverability, they still have a hard time moving backwards, too.

if you had a big shell on your back!

ALSO SEE: Can Turtles See In The Dark?

Tortoise Ancestors Forged the Path Forward

In the wild, tortoises and turtles will almost never divert from old paths used by their ancestors. Isn’t this what everyone does? That is why you will often find them crossing roads. This is the path their ancestors took, and it’s the path they grew up taking as well. Road or not, torts and turtles will go where they choose.

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What’s the point? It’s a matter of being stubborn and having a good sense of what to do. They like to go forward, and it’s hard to stop them once they’ve made up their minds. In this case, a lot of evolution is telling a tortoise not to stop going forward. Even though they won’t always.

Why Bother Walking Backwards?

The reason a tortoise walks backwards is because it needs to be able to get around. Why do they bother?

Even though we have a lot of skills and are aware, we don’t actually walk backwards every day. Even if we wanted to, it’s not an easy or normal thing to do. Taking a few steps back from time to time can be good, but we don’t need to walk in reverse all the time.

There’s no real reason for tortoises to be able to walk backwards as well. Many at least. People who drive cars may not be used to going backwards all the time; but they sometimes need to go back a few steps.

Take a few steps back. What is the difference? Taking a few steps back doesn’t go very far. Walking backwards, on the other hand, is a movement that lasts for a long time. There is a chance that you might trip over something that you couldn’t see if you walk backwards.

The same is true for tortoises.

There are times when a tortoise needs to go backwards, but when?

It doesn’t mean that a tortoise can’t walk backwards just because it doesn’t do it very often. When your tortoise is in a bad place, it might walk backwards to get out of it. Maybe it got stuck in a corner or on a rock.

The best thing to do in that situation is to step back a lot or even just a little. Some torts like to walk backwards just to change their direction. Some people like to back into their holes instead of going in head first.

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Tortoises may have to stop if they get stuck in fences, so they might need to back up. Strong little legs can move backwards so they can get out of a tight spot.

Another time your tortoise might choose to walk backwards would be when they get out of their water dish. The tortoise may be able to climb over the water dish, but often they have to back up to get out.

Other times when tortoises help each other are when female tortoises build a nest to keep their eggs safe. In order to lay eggs, the female will claw and dig a hole. She will then crawl back into the hole and deposit her eggs.

The reason we know tortoises can back up is because they have a lot of strength.

This is a good skill to learn, but don’t worry if your tort doesn’t back up at all. Some tortoises don’t like to back up and go around every obstacle. Instead, they just keep going until they get through it.

It’s not always good to back up.

Sometimes, if a tortoise keeps going back, or if it has trouble going forward, there could be something wrong. As a general rule, it’s a neurological disorder that might make you move back and forth all the time. There could be a lot of other physical problems, too.

In this case, you should take your tortoise to the vet as soon as possible for a check-up.


No, a tortoise can’t walk backwards at all. Yes, that’s correct. They can walk backwards, too. Even though it’s a short distance and it has to work out, it can still be done. Tortoises are more likely to back up and turn at the same time than to walk backwards straight.

This is because it is easier for them to move around this way, so they do this. In some cases, if your pet tortoise is always walking backwards, or in circles, you should get it checked out by a vet right away.

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