Why Are Tortoises Slow? (3 Main Reason Revealed)

Tortoises are famous not only for their hard and artistic shell but for their calm temperament too.

Additionally, they are remarkable with their sluggish motion that will make you presume they are simply enjoying every second of their lives.

It is no secret that tortoises are slow, but how slow are they? What are the reasons behind their slow movement?


Are Tortoises Really Slow?

Yes, tortoises are really slow in comparison with other animals. They are slow-moving because they do not need to hunt food, they have a slow metabolism, and they own a strong shell to protect them from danger.

It would be a surprise to see a tortoise walking speedily as it is identified as one of the slowest animals.

Tortoises are even growing quite big and heavy so it might be one of the accepted reasons for some why they cannot move quickly.

There have been lots of fabricated stories about the reasons why tortoises are slow. Tortoises are usually picked as one of the characters for story books and movies, highlighting their movements.

But have you wondered what the real reasons are for their slow actions?

They do not need to hunt food

The first reason why tortoises are slow is related to their diet.

Tortoises are commonly herbivores; thus, they do not need to become a fast runner to chase their food.

The plants that they usually consume are not hard to find; in fact, these greens are everywhere! These are simply not running away and can be freely eaten.

They have a slow metabolism

Slow metabolism is another factor why tortoises are not fast creatures.

Tortoises are known for owning a very long life. Would you believe they can live more than 300 years?

Thanks to their slow metabolism, their bodies are creating less dangerous products that can cause faster physiological devaluation. This is the reason why they can live extra years compared to other animals and even humans.

With a slow metabolism, tortoises are feeling sluggish and somewhat lazy.

They own a strong shell for survival

Lastly, the physical features and survival tactics of tortoises are impacting reasons why they move slowly.

Tortoises are commonly quiet and possess a good temperament; thus, they create less enemies due to aggressive behavior.

If their presence catches predators’ attention, their slow movement is not an issue since their sturdy shells can protect them from danger.

There is no need for running as they just need to hide inside their shells to ensure their safety. Predators cannot break their shells easily so they will just leave and let them.

Tortoises are slow-moving to adapt to their environment. They do not possess the fastest speed but their bodies are adjusted perfectly to protect them from any danger and ensure a peaceful life while inside their shells.

Tortoises walk slowly, but they can sometimes walk just the same as the speed of humans. Nonetheless, even if they are excited and want to move in a hurry, they simply cannot.

What Is The Top Speed of A Tortoise?

The top speed of a tortoise is 0.63 miles per hour or 1.01 kilometers per hour.

Being tagged as one of the slowest creatures, you might wonder how fast a tortoise can be.

If you are not familiar with tortoises, you might be surprised knowing that there are some race competitions specifically tailored for them.

Yes! Isn’t it amazing? It may sound funny, but these are surely held to make everyone happy and spend some quality time with their lovable tortoises.

Tortoises would also enjoy these entertaining moments, for sure, as they will be rewarded with their favorite treats no matter if they win or lose.

On average, the speed of a walking tortoise is between 0.06 meters per second to 0.13 meters per second; that is 0.13 miles per hour to 0.30 miles per hour.

According to the Guinness World Records, the fastest tortoise, named Bertie, came from Brasside, United Kingdom.

Bertie was able to hit 0.63 miles per hour or 1.01 kilometers per hour – the fastest speed of a tortoise recorded by far! Bertie made the record on July 9, 2014.

Are Tortoises Slower Than Turtles?

Yes. Tortoises are slower than turtles. The quickest recorded speed of a turtle on land is 15 miles per hour and 22 miles per hour in water. Certainly, these speeds are way faster than the fastest tortoise which is only able to achieve 0.63 miles per hour.

If you are not accustomed to turtles, it might confuse you a little about the difference between a turtle and a tortoise.

Yes, all tortoises are turtles; but, not all turtles are tortoises.

Turtles are part of the animal order Testudines. Turtles have 13 families which involve tortoises, snapping turtles, soft-shelled turtles, sea turtles, and others.

One of the major differences between tortoises and all other turtles is their habitat.

Tortoises live solely on land while other turtles are used to spend their time exclusively under the water or near the water. Tortoises are simply not aquatic creatures.

Another variation between a tortoise and other turtles is their speed. Tortoises are generally slow compared to other turtles that can run almost as fast as a horse!

Despite using a female tortoise as bait, a male tortoise was only able to reach 15 feet in 43.5 seconds in a speed experiment conducted in Seychelles.

The giant Galapagos Tortoise is recognized as the slowest turtle around the world with the slowest reported speed of 0.23 miles per hour or 0.37 kilometers per hour. On average, it can move approximately 1 mile per hour or 1.6 kilometers per hour.

Turtles are faster than tortoises either on land and in water, that is a fact.

Typically, turtles can walk for about 3 miles (5 kilometers) to 4 miles (6 kilometers) per hour and swim between 10 miles (16 kilometers) to 12 miles (19 kilometers) per hour on average.

The fastest speed of a turtle on land is 15 miles per hour or 24 kilometers per hour.

As for water, the fastest turtle is the Leatherback Sea Turtle that can swim at a maximum speed of 22 miles per hour or 35 kilometers per hour.

Which Is Faster, Tortoise or Sloth?

A tortoise is faster than a sloth. The fastest recorded speed of a tortoise is 0.63 miles per hour while a sloth only clocked at 0.17 miles per hour at maximum.

Both tortoises and sloths are included in the list of the slowest animals around the world.

However, tortoises have a tiny speed advantage compared to sloths. Tortoises can move at the fastest speed of 0.63 miles per hour or 1.01 kilometers per hour.

On the other hand, the quickest speed of a sloth is 0.17 miles per hour or 0.27 kilometers per hour. These numbers are slightly lower than that of tortoises.

Sloths are recognized as the slowest land mammals.

They are simply interesting to watch – enjoying the time of their lives, care less about their surroundings, and living at peace solitarily in the trees.

Their slow movements are like a breath of fresh air to the busy and chaotic world that we live in.

Sloths are faster when they are on the trees, traveling through canopy vines. Their quickest movement up in the trees when threatened is 0.17 miles per hour or 0.27 kilometers per hour.

On the ground, their top speed is 0.06 miles per hour or 0.09 kilometers per hour.

On average, sloths are traveling 37.5 meters per day.

Which Is Faster, Tortoise or Garden Snail?

A Tortoise is faster than a garden snail. A tortoise can move at a maximum of 1.01 kilometers per hour while a snail garden’s top speed is just 0.05 kilometers per hour.

Talking about slow-moving creatures that are in cute tiny size, you will probably think of snails.

It would be hard for anyone to walk or crawl with only one boneless foot, just like the snails.

Snails are using mucus to lessen the friction of their foot to the paths that they are tracking.

Tortoises are faster compared to snails with a maximum speed of 1.01 kilometers per hour.

As for garden snails, they can only crawl at a top speed of 1.3 centimeters per second or 0.05 kilometers per hour.

They can even be as slow as 0.28 centimeters per second or 0.01 kilometers per hour.

Snails are not as speedy as other small animals as they also possess shells, just like tortoises, to protect them from any kind of danger.

Which Is Faster, Tortoise or Slow Loris?

A slow loris is faster than a tortoise. A slow loris can reach up to 1.9 kilometers per hour while a tortoise’s fastest speed is only 1.01 kilometers per hour.

Both the tortoise and the slow loris are included in the list of the slowest animals.

The slow loris is not a common animal that you can see everywhere. Some are not even aware of its existence.

They are nocturnal and, interestingly, the only primate that possesses poison that can be found on their mouth and elbow. Their poison is their advantage to be safe from predators and to catch their prey as well.

Usually, a slow loris can cover 8 kilometers every night.

A slow loris can reach 1.9 kilometers per hour (1.18 miles per hour). Meanwhile, a tortoise can only attain 1.01 kilometers per hour (0.63 miles per hour).


Blue Planet Aquarium. (2017, August 4). Turtles myth about its slowness. https://www.blueplanetaquarium.com/blog/sea-life/turtles-myth-about-slowness/

Dicker, R. (2014, October 7). Why are tortoises so Friggin’ slow? HuffPost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-are-tortoises-slow_n_5946324

Nashville Zoo. (2017, May 4). What’s the difference between turtles and tortoises? Nashville Zoo at Grassmere | Nashville, TN. https://www.nashvillezoo.org/our-blog/posts/turtles-vs-tortoises