Can tortoises have "friends"?

Status
Not open for further replies.

PeanutbuttER

New Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2010
Messages
863
Location (City and/or State)
Utah
So this is something I've been thinking about for a little while. Of course the answer that we've been hashing over and over again to people when they feel guilty for having just one tort is "don't worry, they are perfectly happy living alone". I don't have a problem with that and agree that a tortoise can live a solitary life and be perfectly happy.

However, that doesn't explain certain observations and behaviors. There are just things that don't make sense to me with the whole every "tortoise is an island" (but no man is... ;)) analogy.

Watch this video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSdPRsVxlcw&feature=player_embedded
If tortoises could care less about each other, then why in the world did this tortoise choose to right the other one? If there is no social structure or any sort of "relationship" (term used broadly) then it would have nothing to gain by righting the other tortoise. This is just one video, it's not the first time it's happened and it won't be the last time. Here's another
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bNUDEo51xs

I don't know if anyone else remembers this, but I remember TerryO talking about how she kept her redfoot Pio with a baby box turtle when Pio was a hatchling. From what she has said they would follow each other around. From what I remember (i could be remembering this wrong though) she said that when the box turtle and Pio were separated, that Pio searched around the cage for a few days trying to find his box turtle companion.

I experienced the same thing when I kept russians with my redfoot. Once I did the right thing and separated them I saw my redfoot roaming the cage more, looking in odd corners and checking all the hides. She did seem to be looking for her two russians. This went on for a few days before she returned to her normal level of activity.

Lonesome George. I remember watching a video that showed how when lonesome george sees his keeper every morning he stretches out his neck and walks over until he gets his neck rubbed and then returns to eating. Kinda like as if he was just wanting to say "hello, I'm here". I'll try to find the video and update this post with it later. However, once again lonesome George is not the only one who seems to greet his/her keeper.

So, I don't think friend is the right word but I do believe that tortoises are capable of creating social relationships. Be it a tortoise-tortoise relationship or a tortoise-keeper relationship, they still are forming relationships. My only caveat though is that tortoises as a rule are a more independent animal. They most definitely are able to live by themselves. I also don't believe that EVERY tortoise is able to do this nor that it can be forced upon them (ie, if I just spend more time with my tortoise then he'll love me more...). I am certain that there are more independent individuals that really do prefer to be alone and will ignore others around them, just like there are plenty of grouchy people that prefer to be alone too :p

I want to hear some of your thoughts on this. What's your opinion?
 

dmmj

The member formerly known as captain awesome
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Aug 15, 2008
Messages
19,752
Location (City and/or State)
CA
I watched the youtube video and to me anyways it look like they were still fighting, just what I saw. and then you have to ask how did it get like that in the first place? most likely they were fighting. I think that most turtles ad tortoise neither want nor need "friends" JMO. Am I saying you can't keep them together? no of course not, and some species seem to do just fine in groups. RF and RES come to mind. As to the case of lonesome george a tortoise showing affection to a person it views as someone who brings it food, is a lot different then them showing affection to another of it's species. as for RF and boxies kept together and then seem to be missing it cage mate once it is removed I have no personal knowledge of that so I can't say. I would say the examples you cited are exceptions to the rule, as we have seen on this forum many many times of people saying my 2 (blank) just started fighting and I don't know why.
 

Az tortoise compound

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2010
Messages
681
Location (City and/or State)
Arizona
We have tortoises that while in larger groups, only hang out with some animals and avoid others regardless of the season. Maybe it's just me, but they seem to have friends. At a minimum they have "accepted" and "unaccepted" roommates. I am speaking mainly about south american and african tortoises. The european species seem to be indifferent to anything except the opposite sex and food:)
 

Greg T

Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Aug 8, 2008
Messages
1,183
Location (City and/or State)
League City, TX
I believe they do interact in a sort of friendship. Mine will follow each other and sleep together, even with the entire yard to play in. I have to believe they do it by choice because when they want to be alone they will go in different directions, but usually end up in the same location at night. If nothing else, it makes me feel like they are friends. :D
 

terryo

Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Aug 24, 2007
Messages
8,972
Location (City and/or State)
Staten Island, New York
I don't know if anyone else remembers this, but I remember TerryO talking about how she kept her redfoot Pio with a baby box turtle when Pio was a hatchling. From what she has said they would follow each other around. From what I remember (i could be remembering this wrong though) she said that when the box turtle and Pio were separated, that Pio searched around the cage for a few days trying to find his box turtle companion.

Not only did he search for her, but he didn't eat for days. When I put them back together, he was fine again.
006-3.jpg


022.jpg


I have no idea what would have happened when they got older, but I did intend to seperate them at a later time.
 

ElfDa

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2010
Messages
119
Location (City and/or State)
Sammamish, WA
I think they can have friends, yes.
I think they can even love-- is it love like you and I know it? I have no clue; I can't speak Tortoise.
But there is evidence that all kinds of animals enjoy companionship-- just because they can't smile, doesn't mean that torts don't feel happy.

Penny likes me, Mommy, best, and will ditch Daddy while being hand-fed, to see where I've gone.
I used to try to say that she likes us equally, but she's blown off my fiance so many times, I can't really keep pretending. :p

Most animals cannot say "I miss Bob; could he come back to visit?" or "I miss my mom!" but we can watch what they do.
Cats who lose a buddy will mourn; they go off food, get clingy or really distant with their humans, sometimes they stop grooming for a while, often don't want to play or do any of the things they used to.
They're depressed; they miss their friend.
Even if that friend was a total **** that used to bite them on the face when they played.
 

Terry Allan Hall

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2010
Messages
4,009
Location (City and/or State)
The Republic O' Tejas
Couple stories to share:
(1) When I got my first place, I shared it with the 1st Jennifer, my grandfather's pet Hermann's, who I inherited upon his passing, a female Siamese cat named Ming, the Merciless and a large male iguana named Hugo. All three had free range oof my apartment and screened-in balcony (via a "doggy door") and all got along fairly well.

Jennifer and Hugo, being vegetarians, mostly, ate a lot of the same things. Ming ate primarily catfood and the odd (and unlucky) mouse and all 3 got in on The Sunday Treat, cheese pizza...yeah, I now know that cheeze pizza not really something they'd find in naure, but all 3 ate it with gusto...Jennifer got a piece about 2" X 3", Ming got a piece about twice that size and Hugo got the rest of that piece and about 1/2 of one on my pieces...the funny thing is that they NEVER fought over their pizza pieces.

And once, Hugo, out of the blue, caught a mouse and after discovering it wasn't to his taste, after all, dropped it in front of Ming!

Hugo and Jennifer, as I mentioned, ate a lot of the same things, from the same plate, and if there was cantaloupe, Jennifer would push it in front of Hugo...Hugo, not being partial to string beans, would push them, with his nose, towards Jennifer.

When Hugo died (an idiot friend of my room-mate thought it'd be funny to leave him locked in the shower with the "cold" on, for several hours, in December, giving him pneumonia), both cat and tortoise seemed to lose interest in life for a few days, except to wander to Hugo's favorite spot, the drapes and stare up from the bottom, as if wondering where ever could Hugo be...


(2) When I had my sulcata, she had one of my wife's guinea pigs, "Woodrow", share her pen. One night, Woodrow died in his sleep (old age) and Sully searched her pen endlessly for him for nearly two weeks, refusing food (and usually, Sully was a garbage disposal!)...finally, I picked a just-weaned GP that resembled Woodrow in coloring and put him in with Sully, and her searching stopped, her appetite came back and all was well in her world.

Yeah, I believe tortoises make friends, at least sometimes.
 

Madkins007

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Feb 15, 2008
Messages
5,393
Location (City and/or State)
Nebraska
From a purely scientific viewpoint, tortoises are not the loaners they are often made out to be. They are not so social that they form pack structures or anything, but they show lots of other social characteristics.

Perhaps the most significant example is that Desert Tortoises make ultra-low frequency sounds in their burrows that can be heard by other tortoises miles away. There is simply no reason for animals to do this if there is not a social element. Other examples include scent markers, communal sheltering, shared (kind of) feeding behaviors, etc.

Science has only recently been looking into social structures where the animals are separated by time and distance. It is easy to study when the interactions all happen right in front of you, but in birds, whales, and more, it happens in very different ways. Even in humans, an alien observer might never see the social elements of a long-distance relationship!
 

[email protected]

New Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2010
Messages
76
Location (City and/or State)
Colorado
i have only had my redfoot for two weeks but she already responds to the sound of my voice in the morning. if i just turn her lights on she will jusyt sit in her hide and wait patiently. but once i start to talk to her she will lokk up at me then start to walk around her home. when my wife wakes up and we start talking and do our thing she will walk up to the wall and kinda claw at it till i picke her up and let her walk around the living room for. once my son gets up though i always put her away.
so yes toriose do like alittle company now and then. loved the videos!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

PeanutbuttER

New Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2010
Messages
863
Location (City and/or State)
Utah
Thanks for all the responses and input guys!!! I'm surprised to hear that so many people agree that torts can have "friends". I thought for certain that the consensus was the other way around.

And I still think that the story of Pio and the box turtle is very cute and for some reason it has just stuck with me. Those pictures are just fantastic.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top