russian behavior

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lynnedit

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Sorry this is so long, but some background:
I have had 2 adult females since 2/11. They previously lived together in a kiddy pool inside, in passable conditions.
The previous owner had them in this situation for 3 years. Previous to that, they were in a smaller plastic box for an unknown amount of time, with obvious dietary deficiencies.
So they have lived together for some time.
When I first had them, they were in a tort table inside, given the weather. The smaller female was the 'boss' but not overtly harmful to the larger one, just a lot of head bobbing.
I now have them in an outside enclosure about 20'x10' with plants, hills, hides, etc. Initially the larger female seemed to be taking dominance, and things were evening out. For some reason, however, the smaller female is starting to be very aggressive, just this past week. Today I caught her chasing, then biting the back legs of the larger (slower) one. More than once.
They are now separated. Head bobbing I tolerate, but the repeated biting was too extreme and not fair to the larger tort.
So my question: I have the option of expanding their enclosure further, with the idea of a small herd of 4-5-6 RT's 1:3 or 1:4 or 1:5. Does anyone else find that if they have MORE torts, it diffuses the aggressive behavior and they are able to co exist? (I know they live in separate territories in the wild).
Note: the male is still in quarantine.
Just interested in the experience of those with more RT's, particularly outside. It may be that there is always one tort that has to remain separated...?
 

dmmj

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first question I have to ask, are you sure they are both females?
 

lynnedit

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dmmj said:
first question I have to ask, are you sure they are both females?
I believe so, because I posted pics of the larger one on this forum. Both do seem to have smaller tails, asterisk cloaca,etc.
Still, do you think I should post a pic of the younger, smaller one too, just to be sure?
 

lynnedit

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Here are the pics I have of the smaller tort, only from above.
Both have very short tails and don't wrap them around like the male, among other comparisons.
Will try to post the 'other end' tomorrow night (work tomorrow all day).

IMG_0004.JPG

IMG_0003.JPG
 
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lynnedit

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Yeah, I kind of feel like she is a female. I did a search and noticed a couple of other threads about aggressive female torts in certain circumstances.
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread-Aggressive-female-Russian-Tort#axzz1VxpRgeij

My main questions are:
1. other confirm female, if she is.
2. experience with slightly larger groups, 1:3 or 4 or 5, and larger areas: does this diffuse out the behavior. I am mostly concerned about the harrassed tort not being miserable.
thanks!
 

Yvonne G

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Right now I have 1.3 in a pen about 16'x 24'. The clover and weeds are high so that a tortoise on one end can't see clear across to the other end. They get along just fine.

I used to have around 25 males and females all together in a pen a little larger than this one, and they still got along just fine.

Just be sure there are plenty of sight breaks and hiding places. It usually works better with more than 2.
 

lynnedit

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Thanks, Yvonne.
My hope is that expansion will spread them out a bit. I plan to fill the new area with clover and Russian tort weed seeds. They do have some sight breaks, but the smaller one is quite determined. I think she does need more competition.
25 Russians in one enclosure, and I can't even manage 2, lol!
 
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