Help: aggressive male on reluctant female RT

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RockyMountainMan

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I am a new owner of a pair of Russian Tortoises. They are very healthy and both are about 5 inches in length. You can find some of their pictures from this post.

Both are currently kept indoor. They are very active and eat a lot. The male is very interested in the female and keeps bobbing his head and trying to mount on her. But female shows no interest and keeps avoiding him.

My concerns:
1. The male won't give up and showed more aggressive signs by biting her shell, front and rear legs, it could result injury if I am not there to interrupt
2. The female is fairly strong and slightly bigger than the male, she keeps circling around to avoid the male, if he mounted, she will charge and run away but very often I saw male bite on her

I am making another closure today to separate them. I have read about this kind of behavior but still wonder what I should do or can do. Any suggestion?

Sean
 

dmmj

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Males love to mate, russians are no exception. either provide a large outdoor space, or separate, I don't think anything else will work.
 

cdmay

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That is typical courtship behavior but in a restricted space a male can stress a female out. The constant attempts by him will eventually take its toll on her so it is best to keep them apart for a while.
My male T. hermanni was a real breeding nutjob and I would have to keep him in another part of my yard for much of the year. So you can imagine how stressful being kept in smaller area would have been.
 

Tom

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Yep, separate them. Pairs are often problematic. If you wish to breed them the usual strategy is to get several females with one male in a very large enclosure, preferably outdoors with lots of nooks, crannies, and hiding spots.
 

Jason M

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hi there

I am a RT owner , i have one female and one male. I notice that the male would not leave the female alone, she then got to a stage where she would not eat and was nervous of everything,
I was told that the only thing i could do is separate them, after a week she started to come out of her shell. she is now a right little character,
so i would separate them, it is the best thing you can do for her welfare.
 

RockyMountainMan

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Thanks to you all for the responses. I have made another 3' x 2' enclosure (converted from a book shelf) for Rocky (male). Lily (female) will have her own Tortoise House (I bought online made by Zoo Med which is 3' x 2' as well) enclosure to herself. Colorado is too cold outside right now and I won't be able to build an outdoor enclosure for them till May this year.

Lily behaves normally after so many harassment. She continues to show great appetite. Poor Rocky tried everything but nasty bites to court the female and end up in a new enclosure. I will have to run to get more coconut fiber mix and play sand tomorrow as I ran out of them.

If I get two more females, will that change the equation and Rocky may become less aggressive towards female when they are all in together? Or is it going to distract his attention just a bit and less stressful for one female? I really do not want to keep both of them alone even though they may like the solitude. I can tell Lily is fine but Rocky was not happy at all.

Sean
 

Lulu

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Separate them. Male russians are aggressive maters that often bite, as you have discovered. They will relentlessly harass a single female and cause her injury. They can cause injury even when there are multiple females. Additionally, at that size, your female may not even be sexually mature. It's a pain, but I don't think you have any other recourse but to separate them until she is mature, you have at least one other female, and you can house them outside as you have a naturally sexually aggressive male on your hands.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Sean:

I know its nice for the keeper to have to care for only one habitat, but looking at it from the tortoise's perspective, you can't put human feelings onto the tortoise. Tortoises are solitary animals. They don't like being in a herd or with other tortoises (with redfoots being an exception). They don't like to have to compete for the food or the best hiding place. They really like to be alone. Once you get them outside, your one on one ratio won't be as bad for the female. It will be a bigger space with more hiding places for her to get out of his sight.
 

RockyMountainMan

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@LuLu, you are right. I think Rocky is a very aggressive male. I think he eventually will like his new enclosure. Both show no sign of going into hibernation, the way they are eating, I am sure they will grow fast.

I am looking forward to my summer project to create a nice outdoor enclosure for them.

Sean
 

lynnedit

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IF you make the outside enclosure big enough, even an 'L' shape,it might help, but I would still get 1-2 more females. Also lots of plants, rocks and logs for sight blocks.
Still monitor them to make sure one female is not being picked on.
I love Russians, but their very nature that makes them survivors, can also make them difficult to house together.
Happy you separated them, the female is thanking you in her own way (by staying alive...) ;)
 

Lulu

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I think making outdoor enclosures is fun. I like to put boards in at right angles just to make blind corners. They act like it's a whole new world around the corner. Plus I can block areas off to grow some greens.

I just got another male at a show in a deal with a juvenile female. I was really after the female, but this male is like yours. He's nice and beefy and jumps on anything that moves. Between my husband and I, we have two males for five females already (my new female won't be out with the others for a couple of years), but I'm looking forward to subbing in this new guy after QT because I think he's going to get the job done where the others haven't. So, the afterthought turned out to be the prize in this new uber aggressive male. I just have had to have him separated from the female and I'm thinking that's probably the way it will have to be with the others too most of the time ... but aggressive does have its benefits, depending on where you plan to go with your russians.
 

RockyMountainMan

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Yes, the female is not being picked on anymore and enjoy her own space. I especially enjoy hand feeding her. She has such great personality and is so smart. She recognized me so quickly and already started to run towards me when I showed up (I had her for only 3 days). Watching her eat the lettuce off your hand is nice.

Read another post on this forum about the best way to approach them if you have to handle them, such as facing them, moving slowly and tapping/massaging their shell gently. I think that worked very well when I soak her and dried her. She is very calm after the initial struggle and look at me quietly. I have to say that Russian Tortoise is great pet with very nice personality.
 

Terry Allan Hall

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xcbroker said:
I am a new owner of a pair of Russian Tortoises. They are very healthy and both are about 5 inches in length. You can find some of their pictures from this post.

Both are currently kept indoor. They are very active and eat a lot. The male is very interested in the female and keeps bobbing his head and trying to mount on her. But female shows no interest and keeps avoiding him.

My concerns:
1. The male won't give up and showed more aggressive signs by biting her shell, front and rear legs, it could result injury if I am not there to interrupt
2. The female is fairly strong and slightly bigger than the male, she keeps circling around to avoid the male, if he mounted, she will charge and run away but very often I saw male bite on her

I am making another closure today to separate them. I have read about this kind of behavior but still wonder what I should do or can do. Any suggestion?

Sean

Basically, you have 2 options: (A) Build another enclosure large enougth for the two you have, plus at least two more females or (B) seperate them.

Male tortoises don't respect "No means "NO"", if you get my drift. :tort:
 
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