Hermann Tortoise aggression

thomassamotyj

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Hi there,
Please help me. I have two hermann tortoises 12 and 13 years old and have had them from 1 year olds.
The 12 year old is I believe somewhat of a dwarf and is considerably smaller than the larger one.
I have always thought they were both female as I’ve never seen a penis and have always gotten along and are very placid. Short fat tails etc.
This time last year the smaller one became very aggressive towards the larger chasing her around, biting and constant humping (again no penis) even with sex noises lol. The larger hermann does not seem bothered one bit and never retaliates despite the leg and neck biting. The only difference was what looked a swollen tail on the small tort with came to nothing.
It passed and today the same thing has happened again only even more aggressive. I’ve ended up separating them both.

is it a territory thing? If so why all of a sudden and in intervals? I would assume it would be the bigger tort attacking the smaller one.

any help on the subject would be much appreciated as I do not want to keep separated or give one up but I will not tolerate the violence.

thankyou
 

Golden Greek Tortoise 567

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Torts do not like each other they are territorial. You may have not recognized some signs. Sleeping together is taking charge of the best sleeping spot. Eating together is taking charge of the best food. Following is chasing.
 

Golden Greek Tortoise 567

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Sometimes smaller torts attack bigger ones. The other will usually get seriously hurt, or will die. I would build another enclosure, or rehome one. They will not be able to live together. The smaller one is probably small because it is being kept from the food and is being bullied. The tort is probably stressed and eventually, if is kept with the larger one will stop eating altogether.
 

KronksMom

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Tortoise brains do not work the way human brains work. Tortoises live very solitary lives in the wild. They occasionally come across another tortoise, and if it's the same gender, they battle for the territory and then leave. If they are opposite genders, they mate and then immediately after, leave. Keeping 2 tortoises together keeps them in a constant state of stress. They are forever trying to chase the "intruder" away, and the less dominant (this could be the bigger one or the smaller, size does not determine dominance) one is forever trying to get out of the way. They sit on and pee on their food to mark it as "mine", they claim the best sleeping, eating, basking spots. And they don't want to share. As you've seen, it will eventually evolve to outright violence. At that point it's unlikely to ever deescalate. Aside from the danger of one tortoise biting the head off of another (something I have sadly seen on here myself), just the stress of living like this is doing damage to your tortoises. Separation is the only way to provide them both with a happy and safe environment.
 

thomassamotyj

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Tortoise brains do not work the way human brains work. Tortoises live very solitary lives in the wild. They occasionally come across another tortoise, and if it's the same gender, they battle for the territory and then leave. If they are opposite genders, they mate and then immediately after, leave. Keeping 2 tortoises together keeps them in a constant state of stress. They are forever trying to chase the "intruder" away, and the less dominant (this could be the bigger one or the smaller, size does not determine dominance) one is forever trying to get out of the way. They sit on and pee on their food to mark it as "mine", they claim the best sleeping, eating, basking spots. And they don't want to share. As you've seen, it will eventually evolve to outright violence. At that point it's unlikely to ever deescalate. Aside from the danger of one tortoise biting the head off of another (something I have sadly seen on here myself), just the stress of living like this is doing damage to your tortoises. Separation is the only way to provide them both with a happy and safe environment.
Torts do not like each other they are territorial. You may have not recognized some signs. Sleeping together is taking charge of the best sleeping spot. Eating together is taking charge of the best food. Following is chasing.
O dear I was afraid of this. I was hoping it may have been temporary behaviour as they always seem to get on well. Basking, sleeping and eating together but now you put it this way it makes me sad. I will need to rehire one but to somebody I know so that I know they will be cared for properly. Thankyou for taking the time to reply
 

thomassamotyj

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So sorry that you have to give up one of your beautiful torts. Hope that you find a good home.
I promise I will. As soon as I separated her she calmed down. It’s just strange that they are fine 11months a year. I read that one could be producing “fake” eggs and may get protective, or is this just nonsense
 

thomassamotyj

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Sometimes smaller torts attack bigger ones. The other will usually get seriously hurt, or will die. I would build another enclosure, or rehome one. They will not be able to live together. The smaller one is probably small because it is being kept from the food and is being bullied. The tort is probably stressed and eventually, if is kept with the larger one will stop eating altogether.
Thankyou for the reply. I just find it odd that she is fine 11 months a year but then this little devil comes out. I promised my wife I would ask this but is there any chance they will become bored even depressed being alone or would you almost guarantee they would be more happy in solitude.
 

Golden Greek Tortoise 567

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Some females do produce infertile eggs each year, but only a few species of torts live in colonies in the wild those are redfoots, Aldabras, and pancake torts. Even with those torts sometimes pairs do not work out. Tortoises are naturally aggressive towards one another in the wild. In the wild however, one can get away from the other in captivity not so much which is why one usually ends up dead or injure. Your torts are most likely just naturally aggressive.
 

Golden Greek Tortoise 567

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Thankyou for the reply. I just find it odd that she is fine 11 months a year but then this little devil comes out. I promised my wife I would ask this but is there any chance they will become bored even depressed being alone or would you almost guarantee they would be more happy in solitude.
No, tortoises are solitary animals in the wild. The neither seek companionship or want it. I can 100% guarantee you that they will be happier alone.
 

thomassamotyj

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Tortoise brains do not work the way human brains work. Tortoises live very solitary lives in the wild. They occasionally come across another tortoise, and if it's the same gender, they battle for the territory and then leave. If they are opposite genders, they mate and then immediately after, leave. Keeping 2 tortoises together keeps them in a constant state of stress. They are forever trying to chase the "intruder" away, and the less dominant (this could be the bigger one or the smaller, size does not determine dominance) one is forever trying to get out of the way. They sit on and pee on their food to mark it as "mine", they claim the best sleeping, eating, basking spots. And they don't want to share. As you've seen, it will eventually evolve to outright violence. At that point it's unlikely to ever deescalate. Aside from the danger of one tortoise biting the head off of another (something I have sadly seen on here myself), just the stress of living like this is doing damage to your tortoises. Separation is the only way to provide them both with a happy and safe environment.
Thankyou for your reply also. I was just hoping it was seasonal and there was a change that I could make to remedy the situation. Once separated the smaller tort calmed down immediately. I will find a new home with people I know so that I can keep a watchful eye so she is taken care of properly. For peace of mind can you guarantee they will be more happy alone. Haha. I just don’t want them bored and depressed. Always thought they were friends
 

thomassamotyj

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Torts do not like each other they are territorial. You may have not recognized some signs. Sleeping together is taking charge of the best sleeping spot. Eating together is taking charge of the best food. Following is chasing.
why do you think it has taken 12 years for any of this to occur? Is it an age thing. Also food has never been a problem. They eat sometimes together and sometimes separate and always finished in 2 sittings
Even with those torts sometimes pairs do not work out. Tortoises are naturally aggressive towards one another in the wild. In the wild however, one can get away from the other in captivity not so much which is why one usually ends up dead or injure. Your torts are most likely just naturally aggressive.
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Tom

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why do you think it has taken 12 years for any of this to occur?
It didn't. You just didn't recognize the signs. Everything you mentioned in post #6 are territorial warning signs. Tortoises don't have vocal cords to growl with, lips to snarl with, or hackles to raise. If they did, you would have recognized these signs a long time ago. Its only now escalated to full on overt aggression, so it is more obvious. Why now? Who knows. Maturity would be my best guess. Its always been a problem, you just didn't know.
 
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