Can Turtles Climb Tanks, Trees, Walls, Stairs, Fences & Rocks?

When we hear the word turtle, the first thing that comes to mind is we think about an animal that spends the majority of its time in the water.

So if turtles usually dwell in areas that are covered with water, do they still climb on things to reach a particular place?

Now, it’s important to distinguish the turtles we see in the wild versus the ones that are being sold in pet shops. This article would be focusing on the latter.


Do Turtles Like To Climb?

Yes, turtles like to climb because this helps them stay stimulated and it’s the only way they can bask under the sun.

While it’s a known fact that turtles are primarily water-dwellers, they still need land because they can’t breathe underwater.

Also, basking under the sun provides benefits for turtles since this is their source of Vitamin D, which helps keep them healthy.

While turtles may not be the best climbers due to their feet being webbed, they are capable of doing it and they enjoy it. This is their way of exploring their environment and that stimulates them.

Can Turtles Climb Out Of Tanks?

Yes, turtles can climb out of tanks.

Turtles can’t climb on flat surfaces so they are only able to climb out of tanks if there are objects inside that they could climb onto such as rocks and fake plants.

The possibility of turtles climbing out of tanks depends on how the tank itself is structured. For instance, if the land or water inside the tank is high and there is no coverage on top of the tank, then they can easily climb out.

Why Do Turtles Try To Climb Out Of Tanks?

Turtles climb out of tanks due to these common reasons, the water is dirty, they’re stressed, the size of the tank is too small, and the temperature of the water is off.

In this section of the article, we’re going into detail on the common reasons why turtles climb out of their tanks.

Dirty Water

The water inside the tank is not maintained properly so it gets dirty and turtles don’t want to stay inside tanks that have dirty water. Turtles are clean animals so they will not stay in an area where it’s filthy.

The solution for this is simple: clean their tanks as often as possible. Ensure that the tank itself is clean and that the water that you would put in is also clean.

Owners must also take note that turtle tanks get dirty easily, luckily, there’s a solution for that.

  • Ensure that the tank has a water filter.
  • Get a bigger tank since this reduces the likelihood of having a smelly and dirty tank.
  • Use a magnetic sponge in cleaning the tank so that getting rid of algae would be easier.
  • Ensure that your turtle consumes their food in a different container so that the food particles won’t scatter inside the tank and cause a mess.
  • Always clean tanks once a week.

Water Temperature

This is another common factor why turtles want to climb out of their tanks. Turtles can’t stay in tanks that are too cold or too hot, you have to find the right balance when it comes to the temperature inside the tank.

The proper temperature that’s comfortable for turtles ranges from 75 and 80℉. The solution for tanks that are too cold would be installing a water heater, it’s highly recommended that owners purchase the ones that have an adjustable temperature.

Improper Tank Size

This is a common mistake for first-time turtle owners. The improper tank size will result in numerous health problems for your turtle such as stunted growth and acquiring illnesses due to inactivity.

There’s this idea where people think that if turtles are kept in a small enclosure then their size will adapt to the size of the tank and stay that way. That’s simply not true. This is a common myth that’s being spread from owner to owner.

It’s essential for owners to dismiss this myth and stick to the basic rule of thumb when it comes to buying the appropriate tank for their turtle.

The right amount of space would be 10 gallons per inch of a turtles’ carapace. This applies per turtle mind you.

A spacious enclosure equates to a happy and healthy turtle.


Turtles get startled easily by a lot of things and this triggers them to get stressed out. Loud noises coming from outside their tank, the presence of other animals, and being mistreated or mishandled by people are enough to cause stress.

This affects their behavior and once that happens, their routine will start to change. If the turtles once had an enormous appetite, stress would make them lose their appetite. Turtles love to bask under the sun but once they get stressed, they stop doing it.

And of course, stress would also make turtles want to climb out of their tanks in order to escape their stressors.

These are some scenarios that would most likely happen if the turtles are stressed out.

The proper solution for this would be eliminating the stressors of the turtle. If you have other pets at home such as cats and dogs, then keep them someplace else where the turtle won’t see them.


The behavior of pregnant turtles is noticeably different compared to when they’re not pregnant. One behavior that pregnant turtles show is attempting to climb outside their tanks.

Pregnant turtles do this because they’re searching for a good spot to lay their eggs. Turtles lay their eggs on land by burrowing and digging holes, so it’s obvious that they can’t do this in an environment filled with water.

Absence Of Basking Area

Despite being water-dwelling animals, they need land in order to bask under sunlight to get Vitamin D and heat for their body.

If turtles see that they don’t have a basking area inside the tank, then they will surely climb out.

Not Enough Hiding Spots

Turtles have lots of predators in the wild so it’s instilled in their instinct that they must always be on guard. They stay on guard by hiding, however, if the tank has no hiding spots, this will make them stressed out.

Therefore, not having any hiding spots inside their enclosure will eventually make them want to climb out of their tanks in pursuit of hiding spots.

Can Turtles Climb Trees?

There are only several kinds of turtles that can climb trees since not every turtle is able to do so.

Here are some examples of turtles that can climb trees:

  • Indochinese Box Turtle
  • Common Musk Turtle

Can Snapping Turtles Climb Trees?

There’s a possibility that snapping turtles can climb trees thanks to their strong claws.

Since snapping turtles are able to climb up on fences, there’s a chance that they can also climb up on trees as well. Although this may be a rare occurrence.

Can Box Turtles Climb Trees?

Yes, Box Turtles can climb trees.

One particular box turtle called the Indochinese Box Turtle has the ability to climb trees. They climb trees in the first place in search of food such as fruits.

Why Do Turtles Climb Trees?

Turtles climb trees primarily in search of food.

Another factor as to why turtles climb trees is because it’s in their nature to do so. This is an instinct that’s encoded in their system, so it’s only natural for them to climb on trees and other high surfaces.

Can Turtles Climb Walls?

If the walls are flat, then no, turtles can’t climb on them.

Turtles have webbed feet with claws and this won’t obviously work on flat surfaces. If the walls had some kind of platform that the turtles can step on or can cling onto, then they can climb it.

Can Snapping Turtles Climb Walls?

There’s a possibility that Snapping Turtles can climb walls due to their strong claws.

Why Does My Turtle Try To Climb The Wall?

Your turtle may always seem like it wants to climb the wall because they want to explore their environment.

Can Turtles Climb Stairs?

Yes, turtles can climb stairs, especially big turtles.

Smaller turtles like a Red Eared Slider may have difficulty in climbing onto stairs due to their size.

Can Snapping Turtles Climb Stairs?

Yes, snapping turtles can climb stairs.

Snapping turtles have strong claws that can support their weight as they climb, so that makes climbing easy for them.

Can Turtles Climb Fences?

Yes, turtles can climb fences.

There are actually multiple videos online that show turtles climbing onto fences. Turtles are pretty good climbers actually.

Can Box Turtles Climb Fences?

Yes, box turtles can climb fences.

Since box turtles can easily climb on trees, climbing on fences would be a breeze for them since most fences have wired patterns wherein turtles can easily grip onto using their feet.

Can Turtles Climb Ladders?

Yes, turtles can climb ladders.

Bigger turtles have a better chance of climbing ladders compared to their smaller counterparts.

The steps on ladders are a bit far apart from each other and the first step in a ladder is not too close to the ground, so small turtles will have difficulty in climbing them.

Can Turtles Climb Rocks?

Yes, turtles can climb rocks.

As a matter of fact, rocks are placed inside the enclosures of turtles, so naturally, they’re able to climb on them.

Are Turtles Good Climbers?

Yes, turtles make good climbers.

The majority of turtles have strong claws and this is a primary factor why they make good climbers.

These claws can cling to almost anything, aside from flat vertical surfaces though.

How High Can Turtles Climb?

Turtles are able to climb up to a staggering 6 feet.

There have been stories about turtles climbing trees that reach up to 6 feet and that’s no surprise since turtles are good climbers.

Why Do Turtles Like To Climb?

Turtles don’t necessarily like to climb. We believe it’s safe to say that they only climb because it’s innate in them.