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Do tortoises love to be pet?

Discussion in 'Advanced Tortoise Topics' started by TairaBacca, Jun 11, 2017.

  1. TairaBacca

    TairaBacca New Member

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    Currently my russian tortoise is bonding very well with me. He likes it when I scratch his shell but once I go to his actual skin he gets very scared. I have heard that the Aldabra tortoise and the Galapagos like being scratched/petted on the neck.
    Should i try to continue getting my tortoise to trust neck scratching? Is this specie specific? Is just rubbing the shell with a toothbrush fine?

    Ps: the shell of my tortoise sometimes chips a little. Is this normal?
  2. TairaBacca

    TairaBacca New Member

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    Heres a pic of him as well ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1497175677.034336.jpg
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  3. Russian Tortoise Lover!

    Russian Tortoise Lover! Member

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    I would go easy on the neck, same situation with me.
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  4. lisa127

    lisa127 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I would think giant tortoises don't mind it so much because they don't feel so vulnerable due to their size. I don't pet my box turtles or redfoot. I do handle them for maintenance , etc but I don't pet them.
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  5. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 5 Year Member Platinum Supporter

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    I second what Lisa has said.

    On a side note, your tortoise could use his beak trimmed. It's a bit long.
  6. Kenno

    Kenno Active Member

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    A visitor once said he used to have desert torts and they liked having their necks rubbed. He gently rubbed and scratched old Duncan's neck, and the old guy didn't mind. When I try he will tolerate it briefly, then move away.
    I've also read that the giant torts like a neck scratching, but my little guys are indifferent to it.
    Maybe the visitor was a Tortoise Whisperer.
    ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1497192652.118761.jpg
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  7. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Some will tolerate it. Some will use it as a method to get food from their person. I don't think any of them "love" it.
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  8. RosemaryDW

    RosemaryDW Well-Known Member TFO Supporter

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    My Russian lets me scratch her head the tiniest bit when she's peeling, that's it. NO SHELL SCRATCHING LADY!

    She's pretty calm around me but petting is definitely not her thing.
  9. Pearly

    Pearly Well-Known Member

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    My 2 RFs get handled DAILY since tiny hatchilnghood so they are used to human touch. I think they really enjoy their shells being cleaned with soft bristle brush bcs they push aganst the brush and follow it from whichever direction brush strokes come. The fact that they stick their necks out really far when I rub them clean in water or with coco oil and push up with their little heads against my fingers, or stretch their chins out when I gently rub them tell me that they likely enjoy the touch/rubbing/petting them there. The places that they don't like touched are their limbs and tail! Though after 2 yrs of weekly cleaning/coco oil massaging they are bit more tolerant of me messing with their arms and legs but tails are still a big "off limits zone" lol
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  10. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

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    I'm all for handling and petting your tortoise. I have 6 torts, 5 leopards and one Russian. Two leopards I raised from hatchling and always handled them a lot and touched their heads, feet, legs, etc. The other two I received at an older age. The Russian also received at an older age but have had him longer then the two newer leopards. All of them, except the two newer ones, have no problems me touching or letting them. They will come to me when I'm near them and I will give them a pat on the shell or a rub on the head or neck. If they didn't like it, they are free to walk away. I see it this way. If they ever need to see a vet, get a nail or beak trim, I will have a lot less problems getting it done then those that don't think you should.
  11. ZEROPILOT

    ZEROPILOT Well-Known Member TFO Supporter Platinum Supporter

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    I once received a male Redfoot tortoise from a woman who had had no other pets and petted and sat with the tortoise for extended periods of time. For about ten years.
    When I got him, he quickly got into acting like a tortoise. Never seemed to want any interaction with me or anyone else. He was very interested in the 5 female Redfoot I had at that time.
    I can't honestly say that that "lap" tortoise and old lady had a special bond or not. I just strongly feel that he had gotten used to so much physical human interaction for such a long period of time that he had gotten used to it.
    At any rate. The tortoise was healthy. The woman was happy. It was a win, win situation.
    So perceived or real, It worked.

    On a side story. I have brushes screwed to the side of my pens and they are there because my tortoises will occasionally use them to rub back and forth on. Like they are scratching an itch.
    I have attached a picture of one of the brushes

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
  12. Careym13

    Careym13 Well-Known Member

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    I have 2 tortoises. They are siblings and are 2.5 years old. One is very outgoing and lets me touch him pretty much anywhere and the other one sucks into his shell the second I even look at him. They were raised under exactly the same conditions and handled daily for soaking, etc.
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  13. maggie3fan

    maggie3fan Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I mess with all my chelonia. I so totally agree with Barb, not one of my tortoises or turtles will pull their head in when I "pet" them. The Vet loves how easy they are to examine. I do have a desert tort that likes the top of his head rubbed, Bob hated it, but this guy will stick his head out as far as he can when I rub. The idea of scratching that tender skin gives me the willies.....
  14. Sandy Martinez

    Sandy Martinez Active Member

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    I handle daily. I have 3 - 1 russian, 1 hermann, 1 marginated - my hermann is so personable and such a sweetheart and loves his neck rubs before he eats, I can go to the other end of his enclosure after putting out his meal and he will follow me turning away from his meal until I give him a neck rub then he'll turn around and go toward his food. My russian and marginated go for their food first neck rubs later:)
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  15. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    My Burmese stars are quite tolerant of their head and necks being rubbed as Brenda and my grandkids like to do that.

    However it is nothing like a Galapagos tortoise that will absolutely freeze and let you pet and rub its neck and legs as long as you are willing to do it. And they will stay frozen in that position for about 5 minutes after you stop waiting for you to begin again. Brenda really enjoyed that! We were told the theory is a reflex developed to allow some birds the time to pick parasites from their skin, like cleaning stations...

    IMG_3655.JPG
  16. Alaskamike

    Alaskamike Well-Known Member

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    It is interesting how even within siblings , there are differences in boldness and tolerance to touch.

    Animals tendencies to certain reactions come from experience as well as evolutionary genetics. Gallops & Aldabras had an environment that offered very few predators. And as was mentioned, are genetically predisposed to stand, stretch out their necks when touched. In their habitats birds would stand on their backs & "dance in front of them till the tort would stand & stretch then the birds would clean parasites off the folds of stretched out skin. A symbiotic relationship.

    One could say this was learned behavior, however my Aldabra, from less than a year old, stands if his shell is rubbed & lets me rub her legs, neck & head. I found this out quite by accident one day when I ran my hand over her shell. She also does it if sprayed with a hose.

    My Sulcata on the other hand , even though bolder than the Aldabra, will pull in & jerk if his head it touched. Same with my Leopard. By where they come from in Africa , there are big predators. All of mine are from 3 & 1/2-7 yrs old. So not babies now.

    So far , my Aldabra has not walked over to me and stretched out to be touched - not yet. If she does, I might think she " likes" it.
  17. Tidgy's Dad

    Tidgy's Dad Well-Known Member

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    Tidgy likes a good head rub most of all and she enjoys the raised parts over her eyes being gently stroked. She quite likes her neck being tickled but not as much as the rubbing of the top of her head.
    Sometimes when I rub her head repeatedly from front to back she will stretch her head and all four limbs out as far as they will go and stretch them all upwards.
    But she isn't asking for her limbs to be rubbed, she doesn't like that at all.
    She also likes her shell being rubbed, particularly the dividing areas between the scutes as i guess these areas are more sensitive. Most of all she likes rubbing of the rear areas of her carapace, but i guess there may be a sexual response going on there.
    Maitaimommy likes this.
  18. Fredkas

    Fredkas Well-Known Member

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    I have an aldabra and a sulcata.
    Mine pose exact same behavior like alaskamike's. However from my observation, i can say that aldabra always want to strecth out and stand straight and let you pet them started from very small. It just they won't do it if they don't trust you. Mine tried to do it but i can say he was afraid. 8 days later, he stand straight at his 4 months old, and did it without looking at me (give me his butt), and one single sudden movement will make him try to run away.

    My sulcata will not let me touch his limb too. He will let me pet his head, but i don't see that he really enjoy it.
    However if i am cleaning him, which is holding his carapace and put him below running water, he will let me touch any of his body part,including limb, including mouth, and i even can hold his head and move it anywhere i like without seeing any single refusement.
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  19. Franco F

    Franco F Active Member TFO Supporter

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    It looks like he/she is enjoying that very much. The life these tortoises have! :D
  20. crimson_lotus

    crimson_lotus Well-Known Member

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    My tortoise likes leg rubs, or at least I think she does. When I rub her back feet, she will slowly lift herself to get as tall as possible. I follow it up with a pet on the head/neck and she will close her eyes, but not shy away.

    She might also just be waiting for food and she's being really tolerant of me. Who knows.
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