looking after friends tortoise?

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Juvie Member
hello all
now i am tortoise sitting for a week, its my best friends tortoise, Ziggy, now I own bearded dragons and snakes but have never owned a tortoise nor has my friend had him for long, maybe 4 months or so without ever having owned a reptile at all.

now there are a couple of things that are concerning me and I did not want to alarm my friend before really needing to but he will just sit there for a while with his front legs sort of twitching and his lil head going back and forth but without actually moving his shell or trying to walk (he can walk fine by the way) and wondered if this behaviour was normal cos it looks a bit concerning to me like he is trying or attempting to walk but he isn't. (if someone sort of knows what i am on about or want me to post a video I probably could tomorrow but its late at the moment) also the other thing is the sounds, like a kinda popping sound and he is very very slightly opening his mouth like he wants to eat but again doesn't, he isn't actually wanting to eat (again he can eat fine also) but to me this is worrying as my beardie only showed similar signs once and it turned out to be a lung infection however I am really not that clued up to tortoises. can anyone help me out at all? I know I haven't worded any of this very clearly, its very hard to explain but any input would be great.


Juvie Member
Probably a bit late of a response, but that doesn't sound normal. What kind of tortoise? How is your friend caring for it? Food? Lighting? Heat? For that matter, since it's such a relatively new acquisition, where did he get it (i.e. pet store, breeder, craigslist)? Any idea how the seller/previous owner cared for it?

My first suggestion would be to send your friend to http://TortoiseForum.org... Or, if you still have it in your care, go there yourself. It's kind of the BD.org for tortoises. Double-check how your friend is caring for it, and, once the tortoise set up correctly, see whether its condition changes. Really, take the advice of the TFO members... I don't have near enough experience with tortoises to say anything more than "go to a vet!" if the open-mouthed and popping noise issues persist or get worse. It might be something respiratory.

As for the "twitching"... If it's moving its head back and forth just slightly, rhythmically, and the leg "twitching" is also rhythmic and in tune with the head movement, it may just be breathing. I've noticed it in my tortoises and box turtle, and have herd it mentioned by other tortoise keepers... When standing/laying still, their head moves in tune with their breathing, and their legs move in tune with their head. It sounds like that could be what you're describing, though your use of "twitching" to describe it is a little off-putting--it's not, at least in my experience, a harsh or jerky movement, as the word "twitching" would normally imply.

Hope this is helpful to you, and to your friend. Here's hoping there's nothing wrong. =)
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