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Getting your tortoise to trust you...

Joined
Jan 28, 2017
Messages
34
My tortoise is not very sociable with me even though he would recognise me and stuff like that and I have seen people posting about their tortoise trusting them enough to even let them open its mouth and things like that! I was wondering how to get my tortoise to trust me a bit more. Also I need to add I do pick him up quite a bit and thats not been helping too much, please leave a comment on what you think would help.. :D
 

Alexio

Active Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2016
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338
Location (City and/or State)
Syracuse, New York
I would say time is a big factor. It could take over a year before a tortoise stops feeling skiddish around you. Also making sure you have short, positive, limited interaction. Torts just don't love to be picked up and held, they feel the best with all 4 legs on the ground. As long as you keep handling to a minimum and make sure you don't scare the tortoise too much when you interact with it. Sometimes hand feeding leaves or grass can be a good way to build trust.
 

Gillian M

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5 Year Member
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Aug 28, 2014
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14,962
Location (City and/or State)
Jordan
An interesting thread. Thanks for posting @TerryTheTortoise2016 . :)

Personally, I have noticed that Oli trusts me a lot. It did take time, though. I hand feed him (which very few members approve of), and since then we've become very attached to one another. :<3:
 

GingerLove

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Joined
Jun 2, 2016
Messages
1,289
I think Ginger will always be afraid when I pick her up or come at her suddenly. However, when she's wandering around the yard and I come out, she comes to me! I've had her for almost two years and she's only just started to come to me. I'm pretty sure she trusts that I will never hurt her now! But she takes a LONG TIME before she trusts anyone. I feel like I've heard that before...
 

Patty P

Active Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2016
Messages
119
Location (City and/or State)
Rockland County, NY
My tortoise is not very sociable with me even though he would recognise me and stuff like that and I have seen people posting about their tortoise trusting them enough to even let them open its mouth and things like that! I was wondering how to get my tortoise to trust me a bit more. Also I need to add I do pick him up quite a bit and thats not been helping too much, please leave a comment on what you think would help.. :D
Perhaps try holding food in your fingers and allowing your tortoise to eat from you (assuming it will not bite you). Food is a great motivator. Did you get your tortoise older? My tortoise I got as a hatchling as he trusts everyone because he doesn't know any different. However, last year I rescued a juvenile RES and he is afraid of everyone except me.
 

Big Charlie

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Joined
Jul 28, 2015
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2,767
Location (City and/or State)
California
Every year I have to rebuild trust when they come out of hibernation.
Charlie doesn't hibernate but I don't interact with him as much during the winter, and I have to work on getting him to trust me once it warms up every year. In the winter, he'll start to suck his head in when he first sees me. By summer, he comes when I call.
 
Joined
Feb 25, 2016
Messages
71
Location (City and/or State)
Manteca, CA
An interesting thread. Thanks for posting @TerryTheTortoise2016 . :)

Personally, I have noticed that Oli trusts me a lot. It did take time, though. I hand feed him (which very few members approve of), and since then we've become very attached to one another. :<3:
Same with me! I hand feed my tortoise when ever possible to build trust! The weird thing is that whenever I put my hand flat in the enclosure he actually walks right into my hand and doesn't mind being help on the palm of my hand!
 

ethan508

Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2016
Messages
88
Location (City and/or State)
Northern Utah
Every year I have to rebuild trust when they come out of hibernation.
This is where I'm at with my Russian currently. She flinches every time my shadow crosses her. Plus we've had to handle her more as it has been too cold to keep her outside at nights.
 

Cubed8ball

New Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2017
Messages
1
Location (City and/or State)
Wales
bit late to this thread but my african leopard tortoise, einstein likes to sleep on my neck and feel me breathing, you could try that. then again einstein has literally no fear and barely goes in his shell and has been like that since i got him when he was just a baby
 

Afbhappy

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Joined
Sep 25, 2018
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
San diego ca
This is an intriguing thread. I was under the impression that reptiles do not bond emotionally (accept for maybe rhinoceros iguanas), but are more primal in their behavior. Meaning, our torts behave in a way that will allow them to survive in their environments. So if they see us as a food source, they may come running when they hear us, nudging at us in anticipation, which can sometimes seem affectionate. If they see us as a threat (which may or may not make sense in human logic) or another tort they may charge and snap. If they see us as a heat sorce they may stretch out or "cuddle" with us. My tort seems to do all of these things at different times. I am still trying to figure out the charging, hoping that chills out with age (he is coming into his manhood right now).
 

TortillaandGamera

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Joined
Sep 9, 2019
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10
Location (City and/or State)
Hebden Bridge, UK
I am one with an opinion that that tortoises DO show affection and you can encourage this by talking softly to them and a few of the following things. Mine are coming up to 1 yr old and I hand feed them both, they will take food from me as I carefully feed them (they also eat their own food left on a slate for them). They also stretch their necks out and I will stroke v gently underneath, they love that! One more thing I do is lay flat and put them across my chest and they soon relax if I’m still enough and they hear my breathing, or even if they see my face close - they then fall asleep in a very relaxed manner on me, of course you have to be cautious of poops and urine !!
 

Blackdog1714

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Joined
Jul 30, 2018
Messages
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Location (City and/or State)
Richmond, VA
My Russian tolerates me becuse I am the food god! My Leopard is learning to trust me and when I have them outside they clip the grass near or under me- obviously using me a protection so hoping for more in the future. Good Luck- BTW I ain't got no show torts!
 

Mizcreant

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Tortoise Club
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Nov 13, 2017
Messages
1,442
Location (City and/or State)
Cincinnati, OH
I handle all my critters daily. Ghost has finally gotten around to allowing me to rub his head and chin. If I place him in one part of the yard and walk to any other part of the yard, he will always head over my way. He even followed me up the sidewalk several times.
 

TortillaandGamera

New Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2019
Messages
10
Location (City and/or State)
Hebden Bridge, UK
I handle all my critters daily. Ghost has finally gotten around to allowing me to rub his head and chin. If I place him in one part of the yard and walk to any other part of the yard, he will always head over my way. He even followed me up the sidewalk several times.
I cannot wait to take mine on walks outside when they are bigger!:)
 

Jules321

New Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2019
Messages
17
Location (City and/or State)
Canton MI
Hand feeding helps. I'm also very careful to never make quick motions near(1 to 2 ft away) my tortoise and if I plan to physically interact with him I greet him with my voice and by offering my hand to his nose so he can smell me. I like to make sure he knows it's me. I think the routine also helps him know something might be coming and mentally prepare or show me hes uninterested in interacting.
 

Yvonne G

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Jan 23, 2008
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My sister learned the hard way about hand feeding. Her tortoise, Bob, was a sulcata and weighed over 100lbs. All his life she handed him treats. One morning she handed him a piece of cantaloupe and he got her finger. He wouldn't let go because he didn't want her taking the cantaloupe away. She ended up at the emergency room getting stitches.
 

Jules321

New Member
Joined
Sep 8, 2019
Messages
17
Location (City and/or State)
Canton MI
Yes if you hand feed be very careful and very picky about when. I only hold on to the food if the part hes biting is at least a few inches away (carrots or a long weed for example). Then make a pile of the stuff that's too small to hold safely. The tortoise can't see or control where the food ends and your hand begins so if you hand feed you need to respect that limit and make sure you keep ample space between your hand and their mouth.
 

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