Training A Tortoise

Gillian M

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Gillian M

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puffy137

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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!"
WHAT A BRILLIANT REPLY, congrats . Moozillion is one in a million, thanks for that. Gillian I'm sure will be very grateful , as am I . :):):):D:D:D
 

Gillian M

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WHAT A BRILLIANT REPLY, congrats . Moozillion is one in a million, thanks for that. Gillian I'm sure will be very grateful , as am I . :):):):D:D:D

Oh sure I am. And I'm thankful to everyone who has been of help.
 

Star-of-India

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What Tom said is key. Then to train your tort you just have to find the appropriate positive and negative stimuli/clues to keep it out of the room. To paraphrase Abdullah, it'll be a long process!
 

Linhdan Nguyen

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I found this while browsing the Tortoise Library & remembered this thread
Would love to know everyone's thoughts on this.
 

WithLisa

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Yes I did read. But if a tort can be trained to use a touch screen (for food or otherwise), why can't it be trained NOT to entre a room which is very much easier I presume. Please correct me if I'm mistaken.
I'm sure they can be trained, as my torts have learned to avoid anthills and stinging nettle. You just have to find a suitable negative reinforcement, I guess for example an electrified fence might work. The question is if you want to use something like that on Oli... ;)
 
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