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Biting Tortoise

Discussion in 'Marginated tortoises' started by suzieq1121, Mar 15, 2013.

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  1. suzieq1121

    suzieq1121 New Member

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    I have a California Desert tortoise that we found as a new hatchling. She (assuming it's a she at this point) will be 6 this summer. She just came out of hibernation and she started biting. When she sees us in the yard, she hauls butt over to us with the sole intent of biting us. This is a new behavior for her. She is very healthy, has never been sick, she goes in at night and out during the day, gets plenty of sun and area to roam in a tortoise proof yard. I'm not sure why she started this behavior. I'm hoping it will stop and this isn't an indication of the type of personality she will have. When she gets ready to bite, she pulls her head back and sort of launches herself at you. Not sure if that helps describe what she is doing. She will bite your shoe, your toe or your finger.
  2. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer Staff Member

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    Hi Suzieq and welcome to the Forum!

    I guess its about time you start referring to your tortoise as he, him, etc. because what you describe is territorial male behavior.
  3. suzieq1121

    suzieq1121 New Member

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    So if Franklin is a male (we always referred to him as a him), does this behavior continue forever? Lovely...I might need to post some pics of Franklin's underside because we have been curious as to the sex. He doesn't have any concave to the shell and the tail seems small.
  4. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    Hello and Welcome:)
  5. suzieq1121

    suzieq1121 New Member

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    photo.JPG
    I will attach some photos of Franklin. Maybe you can tell me if "he" is showing male territorial behavior. Or maybe "she" has an attitude now. :)

    Thanks!

    Suzie

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2014
  6. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member

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    If you'd heed his warning and get the heck out of HIS territory, he'd quit biting you. :D
  7. mainey34

    mainey34 Active Member

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    Hello and welcome..
  8. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer Staff Member

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    Well, Suzie...I have another disappointment for you. Franklin isn't a California desert tortoise. It looks to me like a Hermann's. (testudo hermanni) And he still looks male to me.
  9. suzieq1121

    suzieq1121 New Member

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    Haha! I guess he woke up from his nice short nap and decided this yard is now his yard. Still trying to figure out if Franklin is a male or female. Maybe she's just cranky.
  10. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member

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    Yep. Yvonne is right again. Where did you find that little gem? Who told you it was a CDT? I'm going to laugh hard if you tell us it was your vet. :)
  11. suzieq1121

    suzieq1121 New Member

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    What?? He's not a Ca tortoise? We just assumed since hubby found him in some field in San Diego where we live. Our tortoise friend looked at him and determined he had just hatched. He was very soft and tiny. Hmm, I'll have to research Hermanns now. What are the differences between the two tortoises?
  12. suzieq1121

    suzieq1121 New Member

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    Found him/her in a canyon in a suburb in San Diego. I figured someone must have had CA tortoises but thinking about it now, someone having Hermanns makes more sense. A year later my husband was working back in that canyon area (he's a gardener) and saw dead juvenile tortoises (the same size as Franklin). We figured they might have been hatchlings from the same clutch. Glad he found Franklin and brought him home. I had turtles and a tortoise in the past. Wasn't really thrilled about starting over with a baby tortoise :) but Franklin has been with us for 6 years now and we enjoy him/her.
  13. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member

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    What a cool story. So glad you guys found him and gave him a great home. They are one of my favorite species.

    Here in Southern CA the care for both species will be similar. Your Herman's tortoise can hibernate just like the CDTs and the diets should be similar too. Lots of broadleaf weeds like plantain(the weed, NOT the fruit), mallow, filaree, wild mustard and garlic, sow thistle, clover, dandelion, and many others. You can get seed mixes and grow these your self, or just scavenge them from chemical free areas. Mulberry, hibiscus and grape leaves are also very good for them. Throw in an occasional young spineless opuntia cactus pad and you should have a pretty good diet. You can also grow gazanias, nasturtiums, pansies and a whole bunch of other flowers. I also grow arugula, alfalfa, endive, and various squash plants too. Since my two main species are major grass eaters, I also grow a lot of grass, but you won't need that.
  14. suzieq1121

    suzieq1121 New Member

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    Thanks so much for the valuable info. I googled Herman's tortoise and read up on them. Looks like the care is very similar. The longevity of the Herman's is much shorter, it seems.

    Franklin has always gotten lots of veggies (mostly fresh but sometimes canned without salt), a little fruit (not much) and lots of weeds (his favorite is dandelion). I know most of their diet is supposed to be weeds. Being that my husband is a gardener, we don't have many weeds. We've gotten to wear we leave a section of our lawn that he only mows occasionally since that section is where the dandelion grow. I will look into growing some seedlings/weeds for Franklin now. I also have (or had) a nice succulant garden that Franklin has devoured. :)
  15. Raymo2477

    Raymo2477 Active Member

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    That's not a Hermann's tort!


    Look at the plastron. It's a marginated tortoise...100%.
  16. suzieq1121

    suzieq1121 New Member

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    Maybe I should post a better pic of him/her. I'm very curious now.
    [hr]
    franklin1.JPG franklin2.JPG franklin1.JPG
    Photos of Franklin, the 6 year old mystery tortoise. :)
    [hr]
    Just googled images of Marginated Tortoises and he sure does look like them!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2014
  17. GBtortoises

    GBtortoises Active Member

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    Your tortoise is definitely a Marginated tortoise, Testudo marginata and a female.
  18. suzieq1121

    suzieq1121 New Member

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    Thanks so much for the info! Now I can really refer to Franklin as "her". I take it these tortoises are or were sold in pet shops. How else would they ever get to this part of the world? Reading up on this type of tortoise, I find that it's an herbivore. Wow, no wonder Franklin wants my toes. ;) Should I try and incorporate some insects/meat into her diet. Also, looks like the longevity is much longer than a CDT.
  19. AZtortMom

    AZtortMom Well-Known Member

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    Hi and Welcome :)
  20. suzieq1121

    suzieq1121 New Member

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    Thanks!
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