Your tortoise may chase you for two reasons. First, affection: they follow you around because they like you (or the food you provide). Second, it may indicate aggression or territoriality. Determine which, and if necessary, change your behavior.
Isn’t it strange how, when you’re just minding your own business or conversing with your tortoise, it starts chasing you around with alarming vigour? You may think it’s cute that your tortoise wants to play tag with you. Maybe they love you so much they want to follow you everywhere?
You may be correct, but there may be others. There are several reasons why your tortoise may chase you, and not all of them are loving. They aren’t usually aggressive, but their territorial nature can make an unwelcome appearance. To understand why your tortoise is chasing you, you must first understand the cause.
ALSO SEE: Can Tortoises Eat Romaine Lettuce?
Do Tortoises Bite?
Tortoises are not usually aggressive. Humans and other animals rarely show signs of aggression. However, tortoises, like humans, can become territorial or moody when others step on their “toes.”
Imagine your own demeanor in a crowded shop or traffic jam versus the calm tranquility of your own home, and you begin to understand your tortoise’s perspective.
If your tortoise is following you and biting you – and not in a cute playful way – they may be annoyed by something. Keeping this in mind, if they do chase you, give them what they need, including space and independence.
Why Does My Tortoise Chase Me?
Whether your tortoise bites you or not, there are several reasons why. And what you can do about it.
Male tortoises, in particular, can be fiercely territorial. As a result, they may chase you as soon as you enter their territory. They may even try to bite you. This demonstrates the value of giving your tortoise its own enclosure. Allowing them to roam freely in the yard or house may rob them of this, or worse, make them believe your home is theirs.
Yes, a tortoise may chase you during mating season. Male tortoises have a strong hormonal drive and a strong urge to mate. Long-time male tortoise owners may notice their male tortoises chasing and snapping at them, indicating they want some ‘action’. In this case, chasing is just hormonal aggression.
When hungry, tortoises can be clingy or aggressive. If your tortoise won’t get off your back, it’s probably just hungry. If you suspect this is the case, increasing their daily food intake may help them relax.
Tortoises may also associate your presence near the enclosure with food, so they may chase you or your hand around the enclosure, hoping (or hoping!) for food.
They Hate Their Food
So, you feed your tortoise frequently enough, but they still act “hungry.” The enclosure’s food may not be varied enough to satisfy the tortoise.
Consider how you behave when you eat the same thing every day. You become irritable and crave other (often unhealthy) options. The same goes for tortoises. If they are chasing you for no apparent reason, change their diet. Surprisingly picky eaters, tortoises. Just stay fit!
They’re Truly Fond of You
Yes, tortoises may not always chase you out of aggression. Maybe it’s just a cute gesture (coupled with the fact that they know you usually give them food). If you approach their enclosure but do not enter, they may be expecting food from you. You should try to bond with them now (e.g., give their shell a gentle scratch).
They think you’re food
You may be bigger, but that doesn’t mean you’re not tasty to your tortoise. Even if you fed it, your tortoise may still chase you and bite you! It is not a sign of aggression or affection, but rather a sign of confusion.
Their Enclosure Enrichment Is Insufficient
Tortoises, like humans, need to burn off excess energy. They won’t get bored in a properly enriched environment. A few balls or rocks, a cuttlebone, and some steam.
So, in the absence of adequate enrichment, they will make do with what they can get. And if that means chasing you down as soon as you enter their enclosure, they’ll do it.
Tortoises rarely chase people for no reason. Maybe it’s a sign of affection, but it’s usually either territorial or wanting something. You must determine their needs and meet them.