my pet turtle ran away

There is nothing scarier than when your pet turtle or tortoise runs away. No matter how careful or safe you make your turtle enclosure, there is always a chance your turtle will get out. I have dedicated this article to cover all the things you should do if you discover your turtle ran away.

Why do turtles run away?

Turtles run away for many reasons, including stress, hunger, mating, and boredom. A turtle might also run away if they feel threatened or intimidated. This could be caused by another turtle, or another animal in the area.

What to do if your turtle ran away?

If your turtle ran away, you should search every inch of the enclosure, walk towards the nearest body of water, leave food out, and make posters. 

If your turtle ran away, it is very important that you act fast and follow the steps below. The sooner you act, the better the chance you will retrieve your turtle. 

Carefully examine every inch of the enclosure

If you keep your turtle outside, there is a good chance you have a pretty big enclosure for your turtle or tortoise to wander around. Despite their hard round shell, turtles are more nimble than you might think, and can fit between and under certain spaces you wouldn’t expect.

You should look closely in every nook and cranny within your turtle enclosure. Turtles sometimes like to dig and burrow themselves in substrate, so it is wise to check the substrate first. You should also inspect any plants in the enclosure, as turtles sometimes like to hide under plants for shade. If you have a tortoise, you should check out my article on the best plants for a tortoise enclosure.

You would be surprised at how many close calls I have had with my tortoise where I thought he had ran away, when he was actually just hiding under some bushes. 

If your turtle still doesn’t show up, move on to the next step. 

Walk towards the nearest body of water

As crazy as it sounds, turtles have a natural ability to sense if there is water nearby. There is a chance they have run away in an attempt to reach a nearby pond or river. 

If you know of any body of water near your house, you should walk in that direction. There is a chance you come across your turtle on the way. If possible, try to get as many people as possible to help you on your search. The more eyes on the ground, the higher the chance you will spot your turtle.

Leave food out in their enclosure

If you are still unable to locate your lost turtle, you should leave a lot of their food out in their enclosure. If they happen to still be nearby, there is a chance they might wander back. It is great if your turtle likes live bait or insects, as these will have a stronger scent compared to commercial turtle pellets. 

As long as you don’t have other turtles, you should make a large opening back into your turtle’s enclosure so that they can easily come back in if they do wander back. 

Make a missing poster

If your turtle still doesn’t turn up, your last option is to set up posters around your neighborhood. While your turtle might be gone for good if they made it to a body of water, there is still hope if they are wandering around land. 

Make sure to be as descriptive as possible on the poster.  

How to prevent your pet turtle from running away

As with most problems,prevention is key. The best thing you can to prevent your turtle from running away is making sure your enclosure is secure, and take care of your turtle so they don’t have a desire to run away.

If your turtle or tortoise is kept outside, examine every single inch of the perimeter of their enclosure. Make sure the ground is hard so that they can’t dig under the perimeters. The perimeter should also have a height that is at least two times the length of the turtle. 

You should keep a very close eye on your turtle for the first couple days that they are in their enclosure. This is when pet turtle are most likely to escape. 

It is also important that you do everything you can to make sure your turtle is comfortable. A turtle that is stressed out will be more likely to try and run away. Make sure their enclosure is big enough so that they have plenty of space to walk or swim around. 

It is also very important that you keep your turtle well fed. If your turtle is hungry, they might run away to find another source of food. For this reason, try your best to keep a consistent feeding schedule. 

If you have any other pet, such as a cat or dog, make sure that they never get near your turtle’s enclosure/habitat. Even if your pet doesn’t have aggressive intentions, it might stress out your turtle and cause them to run away.

It is also best if you check on your turtle or tortoise at least two or three times a day. This way, if they do happen to run away, there is a higher chance that you discover it sooner rather than later. Turtles can cover a lot more ground than you think. The average turtle can cover around 2 to 3 miles every hour. Therefore, if you notice your turtle ran away 2 hours earlier, you have a much better chance of finding him. To learn about the speed of specific species of turtles, check out my article on how fast do turtles walk?


Lastly, I recommend that you carefully examine your turtle or tortoise when you first buy them. Look for any distinct marks that could help tell them apart if you ever have to make a lost poster. It is also smart to take frequent photos of your tortoise so you have an up to date photo if they go missing.

Also, if your turtle or tortoise is not very big, you should consider keeping them inside, as their is a much smaller chance they will escape. If you need help making an indoor habitat, you should check out my article on the best cheap indoor turtle enclosures.

I hope this article helps you locate your pet turtle or tortoise. Best of luck!!