Training A Tortoise

Gillian M

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Hi everyone. I have previously asked whether or not a tort can be trained to do certain things and by the same token, not to do other things. I was told one cannot train a tortoise but was not given any further info/details whatsoever.
My question is: why can't a tortoise be trained? After all, and like all other animals it has a BRAIN and a NERVOUS SYSTEM. So why can't it respond and "give and take" with its owner and a person it recognizes and lives with. At the same time I do realize that its brain is NOT that of a dog or a cat for example.
I have been trying in vain to train my Greek tort not to entre one of the rooms in the flat I live in. I regret to say I didn't get anywhere! This somewhat confirms what I was told by a member in the forum. Moreover, when my beloved tort is roaming around the place the above-mentioned room is the only one it wants to go into! It may sound incredible but I've had to close the door of that room.
If any of you has been able to train his/her tort I'd appreciate your informing me HOW.
Thanks a lot.
 

peasinapod

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There's a video on youtube of a tortoise which was being trained to go towards a brown lego piece instead of going towards the brightly coloured ones if it is presented with different coloured pieces.
 

Gillian M

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i don't know if this counts as trained but before i feed my zooboo(sulcata) tort i tap the side of his cage and he comes running out for his burrow for his food.:):tort:
Thanks a lot your help. I do the same with my tort and it seems to me that all a tort can do is...run for its food. Thanks again your answer.
 

Gillian M

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My adult R/F is trained to look for food at the exact same times of day and comes to my wife when called. Certainly, if training is what you want to do, start with FOOD!
Thank you for the answer, Believe me I've done it but that's about all I've been able to do after more than three years let alone the research.
 

Yellow Turtle01

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Why not? I think after a while they come to associate certain sounds with certain things anyway, such as (like russian/sulcata/tortoise said) when I feed my turtles pellets, I shake the food jar and they always know what it is. I'm trying to teach my sulcata her name, but it's not going very well :p:rolleyes:
 

Gillian M

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Why not? I think after a while they come to associate certain sounds with certain things anyway, such as (like russian/sulcata/tortoise said) when I feed my turtles pellets, I shake the food jar and they always know what it is. I'm trying to teach my sulcata her name, but it's not going very well :p:rolleyes:
I know what you mean but I am facing the same issue with my tortoise: there is NO reaction/response whatsoever when I call it. One thing I'm 99% sure of is that torts in general just run to their food! I do not think that one can really give and take with them, therefore not any person is able to keep a tort as a pet. (I don't mean me!)
 

Gillian M

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I think most of their behavior must be hard wired into them from birth. Mine have gotten ME trained.
No offence....this is not my aim. I'm trying and still tring to train my tort certain things, and I have NOT given up.
 

puffy137

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Gillian I admire your persistence, as far as I know your tortoise will never do tricks or learn to 'stay' or 'fetch'. My hatchlings that are just a few months old, all turn & come running to me when I arrive every morning with their food. Its always gratifying to see although I'm sure its just instinct.
Keep us posted on your progress. best of luck!:D:tort:
 

Gillian M

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Gillian I admire your persistence, as far as I know your tortoise will never do tricks or learn to 'stay' or 'fetch'. My hatchlings that are just a few months old, all turn & come running to me when I arrive every morning with their food. Its always gratifying to see although I'm sure its just instinct.
Keep us posted on your progress. best of luck!:D:tort:
Thanks your message which was extremely encouraging. I can assure you I do have determination so we'll see who'll win this war: my tort or me. Will definitely keep you all informed. Take care.
 

Gillian M

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Hi everyone. I'm still trying to train my beloved tort to do and not to do. I'm wondering: "Are torts that stubborn?" It seems to me that they are, though I'm still determined to get somewhere. Does any of you ladies and gentlemen know anything about a tort being stubborn? If so I'd very much appreciate any info. Personally I didn't come accross anything to do with this whilst doing a lot of research. Thanks very much in advance your help.
 

Moozillion

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The staff at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans were able to do a very limited amount of training with their 4 big Aldabra tortoises.
GOAL: They needed the tortoises to stop what they were doing and follow the staff into the big tortoise house. One reason was for safety- if a cold front was expected that night or if a hurricane was headed our way, they wanted the animals safely locked up.
The other reason was for them to cooperate for medical medical check ups, which included drawing blood.
METHOD: They made 4 "batons": a broomstick sized piece of wood stuck through a large, hard, plastic ball (the ball looked to be 8" x 4"?); the broomstick served as a handle. Each ball was colored differently, because each was just for a specific animal. One ball was 1/2 red and 1/2 white, one was red with a white stripe around it, etc. the only colors used were red and white.
They started by laying the ball-on-stick just in the tortoise's vision as it ate. After it was comfortable with that, they put the ball closer and closer (at least a week between progression changes) until it was right by the food, and the tortoise was comfortable with it there.
Then they would show the tortoise the ball RIGHT BEFORE giving it each meal- and would leave it right there as it ate. Finally they got to the point that the tortoise would follow the ball anytime he saw it- knowing he would get a yummy treat. They are able to easily get the animals to follow them pretty much whenever they want them to. But they ALWAYS give them food treats for following.
The 2 females learned faster than the 2 males, but I think the quickest was 3 months and the longest was 6 months. They used this same technique to train the Zoo crocodilians and were really shocked at how much FASTER the crocodiles learned! The lady giving the talk said crocodiles "learn scary fast!"
 

Tom

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I don't know who told you they can't be trained, but that is false, as the above examples demonstrate. Specifically what they can be trained to do or what methods will work is debatable.

Here is the simplest way to break down "training" for any species. Two concepts:
1. If a behavior is followed by a positive consequence, it is likely to occur again.
2. If a behavior is followed by a negative consequence, it is likely to not occur again.

Then look up classical conditioning and operant conditioning.

Then you have to consider an animal's long evolved instincts, and the whole nature vs. nurture thing...
 

Gillian M

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Gillian M

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The staff at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans were able to do a very limited amount of training with their 4 big Aldabra tortoises.
GOAL: They needed the tortoises to stop what they were doing and follow the staff into the big tortoise house. One reason was for safety- if a cold front was expected that night or if a hurricane was headed our way, they wanted the animals safely locked up.
The other reason was for them to cooperate for medical medical check ups, which included drawing blood.
METHOD: They made 4 "batons": a broomstick sized piece of wood stuck through a large, hard, plastic ball (the ball looked to be 8" x 4"?); the broomstick served as a handle. Each ball was colored differently, because each was just for a specific animal. One ball was 1/2 red and 1/2 white, one was red with a white stripe around it, etc. the only colors used were red and white.
They started by laying the ball-on-stick just in the tortoise's vision as it ate. After it was comfortable with that, they put the ball closer and closer (at least a week between progression changes) until it was right by the food, and the tortoise was comfortable with it there.
Then they would show the tortoise the ball RIGHT BEFORE giving it each meal- and would leave it right there as it ate. Finally they got to the point that the tortoise would follow the ball anytime he saw it- knowing he would get a yummy treat. They are able to easily get the animals to follow them pretty much whenever they want them to. But they ALWAYS give them food treats for following.
The 2 females learned faster than the 2 males, but I think the quickest was 3 months and the longest was 6 months. They used this same technique to train the Zoo crocodilians and were really shocked at how much FASTER the crocodiles learned! The lady giving the talk said crocodiles "learn scary fast!"
A very interesting story. Mind you, "running" for food is one thing torts do whether one trains them or not.
 
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