Can Tortoises Be Taught To Sit

Littlefoot.The.Tort

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Hey! I have a three year old sulcata, and I've trained her to come when I call her name. Could I train her to do anything else. For example, I was wondering if it would be possible to teach a tortoise to sit or stay still for a certain amount of time. Is this possible, if so how would I train her to do this?
 

Grace-Sophia

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Hey! I have a three year old sulcata, and I've trained her to come when I call her name. Could I train her to do anything else. For example, I was wondering if it would be possible to teach a tortoise to sit or stay still for a certain amount of time. Is this possible, if so how would I train her to do this?
I know some zoos target train their torts… I’m not much help, but they are very smart little buggers, but mind you, there are not dogs! 🤣
 

KarenSoCal

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I think your challenge would be that sitting is not natural for a tort. They don't sit. You need to find something that they do already, and get her to do it on command. I think you have a very tough job ahead of you.

As far as her coming to you, just don't count on it. There is a lot of disagreement re' what exactly torts are able to hear. Many people think they are feeling vibrations, and not actually hearing us. If my memory is right, I think it's the lower pitched sounds they hear, not our high pitched squeaky (to them) human voices.

I want to watch you train her...remember, video or it didn't happen! :tort::D
 

TisMary

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I trained mine to bite my finger does that count?
Did you also train them to poop in water? 😆

Seriously, @Littlefoot.The.Tort I can only call on my experience with training dogs and puppies, but it might help. No idea if any of this will work for tortoises, but hey - give it a try!

For my dogs (labs), food is the primary motivator (sucking up to me is a close second!) It's important to be consistent; to train in short sessions, a couple of times a day (a few minutes each time); and, at first, to reward behavior that come even remotely close to what you're trying to teach them (obviously, they need to get closer and closer to doing it right).

When I start teaching them something new, I always use the same word(s). For example, I say "sit!" instead of "sit, sit, sit!"). At first, it helps if you time your command so you give it when they're j-u-s-t about to do what you're trying to teach them anyway. So, if she looks like she's gonna sit, I'll say "SIt!". If she does, then she gets a treat. Eventually 🙄 they catch on.

Also, there comes a moment when they realize that you are trying to teach them something. I don't know how else to describe it, except to say that they understand you're trying to teach them something, and they just need to figure out what that is - and then they get food!

Application to tortoises? Dunno, exactly. Figure out their motivator (probably food). If you have, say a ramp and you feed them at the top of that ramp, your word(s) might be "Up" or "come 'n get it" - you get the idea. If they're gonna do it anyway, and you use those same words each time, they might just make the connection. You'll know if/when they do the thing when prompted by your command.

Good luck! Keep us posted!
 

Littlefoot.The.Tort

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I think your challenge would be that sitting is not natural for a tort. They don't sit. You need to find something that they do already, and get her to do it on command. I think you have a very tough job ahead of you.

As far as her coming to you, just don't count on it. There is a lot of disagreement re' what exactly torts are able to hear. Many people think they are feeling vibrations, and not actually hearing us. If my memory is right, I think it's the lower pitched sounds they hear, not our high pitched squeaky (to them) human voices.

I want to watch you train her...remember, video or it didn't happen! :tort::D
Thanks for the reply! When I say sit I mean just sorta stay still LOL. You know like lay on her belly. I'll try my best 😅
 

Cathie G

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Did you also train them to poop in water? 😆

Seriously, @Littlefoot.The.Tort I can only call on my experience with training dogs and puppies, but it might help. No idea if any of this will work for tortoises, but hey - give it a try!

For my dogs (labs), food is the primary motivator (sucking up to me is a close second!) It's important to be consistent; to train in short sessions, a couple of times a day (a few minutes each time); and, at first, to reward behavior that come even remotely close to what you're trying to teach them (obviously, they need to get closer and closer to doing it right).

When I start teaching them something new, I always use the same word(s). For example, I say "sit!" instead of "sit, sit, sit!"). At first, it helps if you time your command so you give it when they're j-u-s-t about to do what you're trying to teach them anyway. So, if she looks like she's gonna sit, I'll say "SIt!". If she does, then she gets a treat. Eventually 🙄 they catch on.

Also, there comes a moment when they realize that you are trying to teach them something. I don't know how else to describe it, except to say that they understand you're trying to teach them something, and they just need to figure out what that is - and then they get food!

Application to tortoises? Dunno, exactly. Figure out their motivator (probably food). If you have, say a ramp and you feed them at the top of that ramp, your word(s) might be "Up" or "come 'n get it" - you get the idea. If they're gonna do it anyway, and you use those same words each time, they might just make the connection. You'll know if/when they do the thing when prompted by your command.

Good luck! Keep us posted!
Well... after all that doesn't it still mean you're trained to give them food for being good 🤪😁
 

wellington

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You can only say you trained your tort to come to you when you call it, when someone else is bring it food and you call it to come to you and it does.
Mine comes to me all the time. If I called it, I could say I trained it to come. It's coming because you are the food source and scratching post.
 

ZenHerper

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Reptile brains are different from mammalian brains.

While reptiles are quite smart and can learn to make many associations in their world (Person who walks like that, sounds like that = Food), and can become habituated to a routine series of events, they do not have the relational brain centers we rely on to interactively train dogs, cats, horses, mice, rats, birds, etc..

Reptiles have no interest in pleasing us (highly intelligent, that), and don't care a whit about what we mean for them to do (or not do, see also Foot/Toe Biting and Shin Ramming threads).

Highly social animals want to fit in, so they can quickly figure out how to shape their behaviors to suit us. More anti-social mammals (like bears) have some residual fitting-in memory from being with their mothers as helpless youngsters who needed to learn how to live and find food. We tap into those brain centers when we ask them to shape natural behaviors and postures into reward-seeking "tricks". Reptiles do not have any socially-reliant experience with adult animals who shape and teach them - they arrive on Day 1 with everything they need to know about the world.

While you can easily lure a hungry tortoise to "come" and even follow you with a plate of favorite foods, I don't know of any genuinely successful "trick" training. If this sort of thing were possible, the first thing we'd have done is teach giant tortoises to get themselves into truck beds, or teach a turtle to ring a bell before they have a stinky poo. =DD
 
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