Unfortunately, to some tortoises, the grass will always be greener on the other side of the fence. Burrowing is a natural behavior in some tortoises, but when they dig under the enclosure, they risk their own safety. Here are some things you can do to stop your tortoise from digging out of their habitat.
1. Build the right kind of fence.
Many tortoises do just fine with a short, strong fence that clearly marks the boundary of their enclosure. However, some burrowing tortoises need a little extra reinforcement. If the enclosure currently has a wood or wire fence (chain link), consider adding cinder blocks around the enclosure to block the view. Many tortoises burrow out because they can see the other side. When the other side has grass and other untapped resources, your tortoise will be more motivated to seek it out. You can also dig a trench and sink cinder blocks and wire mesh down into the ground as a barrier against burrowing.
2. Provide motivations to stay inside the fence.
Sometimes, tortoise keepers make the mistake of building an enclosure too small. Tortoises need to have room to roam—they enjoy grazing and experiencing the different areas of their habitat. The water, shade, shelter, rocks, and grass should provide enough stimulation to keep your tortoise happy where they are. If burrowing even with a great fence is still an issue, consider extending the fence out to see whether your tortoise just needed a little extra space.
Besides additional space, tortoises will also burrow if they are seeking something the habitat does not provide. You might try placing a large bale of grass-based hay in the middle of the enclosure. Because tortoises love to graze, this will keep them away from the walls. You can also provide treats like moist moss and greens close to the shelter.
3. Start burrows in other spots.
Some tortoises love to dig, and the fence seems like a great place for burrowing because it is solid and shady. You can encourage your tortoise to start digging in other places. Place some large boulders in the enclosure and begin a burrow underneath one of the rocks. The rocks will keep the soil in the burrow moist, making a cool environment for your tortoise to enjoy on very warm days. Rocks also provide places to climb, another attraction that will keep burrowing behaviors at bay.
Contact a professional such as Doggie Daycare & Motel for more information.