Another "why not" to keeping tortoises in pairs.

Kapidolo Farms

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It suppresses sexual expression.

Two Indian Star tortoises kept together since they were babies were at about a third to half grown. The "female" was a bit smaller and more pyramided, but not grossly so for say a leopard tortoise, so certainly not an Indian Star they were within a millimeters of size of each other. I separated them and grew them up for about (?) three years. The bigger, definitely male tortoise was sold and lives a happy life with some females. The smaller female, as it grew turned into a male. So, I was not looking at crappy photos on-line, I had the live animals to inspect. The slightly smaller one, the 'female' came into its own at a smaller size, and reveled itself to the world as a male. It too is now with females making more Indian Star tortoises.

Same basic thing with some Pyxis planicauda, the flat tail spider tortoise, only it has taken about five years for the revel. Much damn annoyance with that, I now have five mature male P. planicauda.

Don't grow them up or keep them in pairs. You are retarding sexual expression.
 

Tom

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Copy that. Thanks Will.

I saw the same thing with my sulcatas back in the 90s. I went to pick one up and Walter Allen generously thought I should have two, so he gave me another. That second male didn't appear or behave like a male until 9 years later. It was a good learning experience for me.

Your post demonstrates how much is going on that is not so obvious. Hormonal suppression caused by the presence of another male. What else is going in a pair situation that we can't see?
 

jsheffield

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It suppresses sexual expression.

Two Indian Star tortoises kept together since they were babies were at about a third to half grown. The "female" was a bit smaller and more pyramided, but not grossly so for say a leopard tortoise, so certainly not an Indian Star they were within a millimeters of size of each other. I separated them and grew them up for about (?) three years. The bigger, definitely male tortoise was sold and lives a happy life with some females. The smaller female, as it grew turned into a male. So, I was not looking at crappy photos on-line, I had the live animals to inspect. The slightly smaller one, the 'female' came into its own at a smaller size, and reveled itself to the world as a male. It too is now with females making more Indian Star tortoises.

Same basic thing with some Pyxis planicauda, the flat tail spider tortoise, only it has taken about five years for the revel. Much damn annoyance with that, I now have five mature male P. planicauda.

Don't grow them up or keep them in pairs. You are retarding sexual expression.
Interesting... thanks!

Jamie
 

method89

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Copy that. Thanks Will.

I saw the same thing with my sulcatas back in the 90s. I went to pick one up and Walter Allen generously thought I should have two, so he gave me another. That second male didn't appear or behave like a male until 9 years later. It was a good learning experience for me.

Your post demonstrates how much is going on that is not so obvious. Hormonal suppression caused by the presence of another male. What else is going in a pair situation that we can't see?
@Tom piggiebacking off of my question the other day. Do you think pairs or even groups are the reasons for the difference in gular growth. In nature they would each have a territory but even if housed seperate, most of can not replicate the expanse of their territory. Perhaps the closeness of these tortoises in captivity creates a dominant/submissive situation even with them never really meeting. Quarantine has me rambling so I hope what I wrote makes sense. Thanks
 

G-stars

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I completely agree, this is why every time I raise a group of tortoises I make sure they have multiple hiding spots, basking spots, feeding areas, water dishes, etc...
 

turtlesteve

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Really interesting idea. Worth noting that some fish actually change sex by environmental cues, e.g clownfish raised together will always end up with one dominant female and the rest as subordinate males. Tortoises are an interesting middle ground since each individual has the complete genetic code for both sexes, but yet they are unable to change sex (as far as we know).

Without actual hormonal studies this would be really hard to prove, but it does seem like a compelling idea to pursue.
 

Yvonne G

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I too have experience with 'pairs' (male and female) being kept together only to discover that the less dominant 'female' was actually a male. When moved to his own enclosure his male characteristics - indented plastron, larger gular, anal scutes, etc. - started to show themselves.
 
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KronksMom

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Very interesting information. Thank you all so much for continuing to share your wealth of knowledge.
 

method89

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I to have experience with 'pairs' (male and female) being kept together only to discover that the less dominant 'female' was actually a male. When moved to his own enclosure his male characteristics - indented plastron, larger gular, anal scutes, etc. - started to show themselves.
how far apart are their enclosures now?
 

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Not even in the same neighborhood. They've been adopted out to separate people. The people who adopted the 'female' were not happy.
 

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@Tom piggiebacking off of my question the other day. Do you think pairs or even groups are the reasons for the difference in gular growth. In nature they would each have a territory but even if housed seperate, most of can not replicate the expanse of their territory. Perhaps the closeness of these tortoises in captivity creates a dominant/submissive situation even with them never really meeting. Quarantine has me rambling so I hope what I wrote makes sense. Thanks
It makes sense. I don't have scientific proof, but anecdotally, your suggestion lines up with what I've seen with captive tortoises.

There is some degree of tortoise socialization in the wild. The difference being that if there is a dominant "bull' on one area, the other males can leave and go find their own area, where in ou enclosures they are forced to be with the bull and show submission all day every day.

With some wrasse and cichlid species, there will be a dominant male in a territory, and several females in his harem within his territory that each maintain their own smaller territory within his. If the male dies for any reason, the largest and most dominant female in the territory will turn into a male and take over the territory. Same thing Steve mentioned with the clown fish.

I don't think torts can change sex, but secondary sexual characteristics can certainly be suppressed, which is the point of Will's post.
 

yaycolin

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Would you say that keeping them in groups (more than 2) would still suppress sexual expression? Are tortoises less likely to breed with other tortoises if they have been raised together their entire lives?
 

Tom

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Would you say that keeping them in groups (more than 2) would still suppress sexual expression? Are tortoises less likely to breed with other tortoises if they have been raised together their entire lives?
Unknown. There is potential for suppression and it may be happening some of the time, but other times, it clearly isn't happening. Male competition, when that day comes, may over come the suppression as it did in the case of my sulcatas. I incorrectly thought I had a 1.2 group. After 9 years of living together and growing up together, Bertha (now called Bert), decided to fight Scooter to the death. They had never so much as scuffled previously. One day I looked over and saw dust flying about the tortoise yard, and ran over there to find the two of them trying to kill each other. I separated them immediately and repeated attempts to reintroduce them over the next few weeks and months instantly failed every time. After separation, the secondary sexual characteristics did begin to develop in Bert.
 

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I'm new to the tortoise world, but I find this kind of thing fascinating.

I'm interested to hear if anyone has experienced a similar situation with the more 'social' species of tortoise, like redfoots?
 

Yvonne G

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Would you say that keeping them in groups (more than 2) would still suppress sexual expression? Are tortoises less likely to breed with other tortoises if they have been raised together their entire lives?
I think it depends upon whether the dominant male is STRONGLY dominant.
 

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