Red Eared Slider Climbing Out Of Tank

This article will help explain what causes them to want to leave their home and give tips on how to prevent turtles from getting loose.

One thing to keep in mind when keeping reptiles as pets is that these animals are not fish!

They’re very intelligent and unlike fish, they also require daily interaction with humans for proper care.

So why is your red eared slider climbing out of tank?

Turtles will often attempt to escape due to poor water quality, lack of space, or inadequate enrichment. If you do notice this behavior, you should consider improving the environment in which your turtle lives. You can also work to improve the mental state of your turtle through positive reinforcement training.

If you don’t provide enough mental stimulation such as food, water changes, cleaning and other activities then there may be times where they feel like leaving their tanks because they just aren’t happy inside.

This could cause them stress which leads us to our next question.

How do I know if my turtle is stressed?

It’s important to monitor your turtle regularly so you’ll notice any signs of distress early before things get too far off track.

Some common indicators include aggression towards people and/or aquarium furniture, lack of appetite, excessive shedding etc.

Stresses related to being confined often manifest themselves in similar ways but since each species reacts differently, look over the following list for possible symptoms.


Many types of captive animals including birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians experience aggressive behaviors as part of normal development.

The key here is to identify if it is directed toward specific people or objects within the tank itself.

Aggressive behavior should always be taken seriously as it indicates underlying problems that need addressing immediately!

Lack Of Appetite

A good way to check up on your beloved pet without actually having to go into the tank yourself is by looking at its fecal matter.

Often times if your turtle eats less than usual due to poor health conditions, hunger or boredom then the feces will show significant weight loss.

Additionally, if your pet isn’t eating well, it may choose to eat smaller portions instead of waiting until later when more food becomes available.

It’s best to avoid feeding your turtle dry foods or treats as these tend to make matters worse.

Make sure to offer fresh greens, vegetables and fruits instead.

You should never force feed your pet just take small amounts slowly.


Shedding is usually caused by environmental issues and shouldn’t be confused with molting.

When a reptile sheds it does so because it needs new skin and is preparing to shed those old scales.

However, if your turtle is constantly shedding outside of seasonal changes then it may indicate illness.

Keep an eye open for sudden spikes in shedding in conjunction with other behavioral patterns mentioned above.

Excessive Sweating & Shivering

Excessively sweating and shivering are two separate situations although one can lead to the other.

While excess sweat may be caused by disease, heatstroke, low humidity levels or temperature extremes, shivering is typically associated with cold temperatures only.

Be cautious when interpreting these symptoms since excessive sweating alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got a sick turtle on your hands.

Take note however that excessive shivering combined with lowered activity levels can be indicative of illnesses.

Repetitive Behaviors

Repetitive movements or repetitive actions are often seen among bored or distressed animals.

Common examples include pacing, swaying back and forth between walls, spinning in circles or rocking back and forth against the sides of the tank.

These motions are most likely involuntary responses to feelings of anxiety and frustration.

Unpredictable Behavior

Unpredictability is generally defined as erratic behavior that cannot easily be explained or predicted.

Turtles who exhibit unpredictable behavior may flip upside down, jump, pace back and forth or spin continuously.

There are many reasons why unexpected behavior occurs in captives. Illness, injury, dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, toxins, parasites, overcrowded enclosures, improper acclimation, confinement, lack of handling, inadequate space per occupant and general unhappiness can all contribute to stressful circumstances.

Unfortunately, unpredictability is difficult to control once it begins.

Leaving the Tank

Even though turtles are creatures of habit, they still enjoy exploring their surroundings occasionally especially during periods of excitement or novelty.

As previously stated, captive wildlife tends to become unhappy under certain circumstances.

One of the worst scenarios would be feeling trapped or restricted.

Once this happens, they may attempt to find ways to escape.

Noticing this pattern, turtles have been known to break glass, chew through PVC pipe and dig holes to reach freedom.

What Causes Your Turtle to Escape Its Cage?

The main reason turtles frequently escape their cages is because the enclosure was designed incorrectly or improperly maintained.

Poorly constructed enclosures allow air currents to circulate freely throughout the habitat making it easier for your pet to smell outdoors and eventually figure out ways to exit.

Other factors that contribute to escapes include inappropriate placement of lights, high ammonia content, dirty or stagnant water, overcrowding and lack of adequate ventilation.

If you suspect your turtle has found its way out of the tank, first shut off power to the unit so electrical components won’t start moving around causing damage.

Next remove everything else from the tank except for the lid and wait 5 minutes.

Afterward, bring everything back in carefully and watch closely over the next few days.

Should your pet continue to act oddly after returning items to the tank, consult a veterinarian right away.

How Do I Stop My Turtle From Escaping?

To ensure your turtle remains safe, learn how to properly construct and maintain a quality reptile habitat.

Proper construction involves using sturdy materials that won’t warp or crack over time.

Choose durable plastic bins with tight fitting lids made specifically for aquatic use.

Inside these containers, place gravel covered substrate for easy clean up, plus filter material for odor removal.

Use mesh nets or screen tops to cover the top opening and secure firmly in place.

Also add extra support along the edges to minimize tipping.

Finally, attach lighting fixtures directly onto the housing and securely fasten the top portion closed.

Ensure no gaps occur around the perimeter allowing sufficient airflow.

You should also consider adding additional features to improve comfort and safety.

Consider installing a hideaway ball pit, tunnels, bridges, ramps, platforms, rocks, logs and anything else that increases playtime and exploration opportunities.

Place plants and decorations near hiding places to create natural barriers to deter unwanted guests.

Don’t forget to periodically inspect your terrariums for damaged areas or leaks that can result in flooding.

Should you let your turtle out of its tank?

Escaped turtles are wild animals that are accustomed to living outside of human influence.

Although they haven’t had a chance to adapt to life in captivity, they still possess basic instincts that drive them to seek shelter and protection.

Since they’ve already gone through several weeks worth of conditioning to stay in their pens, releasing them back into the wild could potentially put them in danger.

Therefore, it’s advised to handle your turtles gently whenever necessary and confine them appropriately.

Remember to observe their habits, moods and routines closely to determine whether they seem healthy and comfortable.

If your turtle exhibits signs of distress or pain, please contact your local vet.
We hope this helps answer your questions regarding why your turtle is attempting to escape its enclosure and how to resolve the situation.

Please remember that your pet is a unique individual with special needs.

Never neglect routine maintenance or ignore warning signals.

By doing so, you can save your pet from unnecessary suffering.

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