Can tortoises really answer to their name?

maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
5,165
Location (City and/or State)
PacificNorthWest
We have all read here about Joe Blow who calls his tortoise or talks to it and gets some form of recognition. I really think it's possible that there's a tympanic membrane that feels vibrations; but I believe they cannot hear, they don't know they have a name, and they come running or follow you around because you are the food god or goddess. Any opinions?
 

Toddrickfl1

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 7, 2018
Messages
6,666
Location (City and/or State)
Ga
We have all read here about Joe Blow who calls his tortoise or talks to it and gets some form of recognition. I really think it's possible that there's a tympanic membrane that feels vibrations; but I believe they cannot hear, they don't know they have a name, and they come running or follow you around because you are the food god or goddess. Any opinions?
I've noticed vibrations on the ground get my tortoises attention. If I call his name he usually won't come out of his hide but if I stomp my foot on the ground a few times he comes out almost every time.
 

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
24,227
Location (City and/or State)
South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
I tap my feeding bowl on the wooden side of my pen after I've put down the food.
That gets their attention.
I don't know if they respond to words.
But they do respond to taps.
I had a Male for a while that seemed to respond to my wife calling his name. But it's just as likely it's her look, smell or something else altogether.
 

method89

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
May 15, 2019
Messages
1,364
Location (City and/or State)
Malverne, NY
I've noticed vibrations on the ground get my tortoises attention. If I call his name he usually won't come out of his hide but if I stomp my foot on the ground a few times he comes out almost every time.
video or it didn't happen!
 

Srmcclure

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2020
Messages
1,684
Location (City and/or State)
Oklahoma city
Chi chi comes out when i 'call', but only does it for me, not my son or husband. Idk if its the pitch that sends a different vibration and she knows its me that way or what. Everyone else she will peek out at then turn around and show you her butt lol
 

Armadillogroomer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
269
Location (City and/or State)
OK
Chi chi comes out when i 'call', but only does it for me, not my son or husband. Idk if its the pitch that sends a different vibration and she knows its me that way or what. Everyone else she will peek out at then turn around and show you her butt lol
.

Opposite here, my redfoot doesn’t seem to hear me. He comes “running” if he sees me, otherwise I have to tap to get his attention. But he responds to my partner’s much deeper voice.
 

maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
5,165
Location (City and/or State)
PacificNorthWest
.

Opposite here, my redfoot doesn’t seem to hear me. He comes “running” if he sees me, otherwise I have to tap to get his attention. But he responds to my partner’s much deeper voice.
But he's not responding to your voice, he comes running because he sees you and you are the food god...
 

Madkins007

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Feb 15, 2008
Messages
5,393
Location (City and/or State)
Nebraska
It is well documented that tortoises have decently developed hearing structures, but only respond to sounds made by fighting, mating, eggs hatching, and in some species, subsonic sounds carried through the soil. They ARE good with vibrations, smell, sight, memory, and a general sense of time.

I know a lot of people claim their torts hear them, but they have not shown that they have controlled for other variables- that is, how do we know they are not responding to vibrations, sight, smell, the idea that it is feeding time, etc.? My redfoots often responded to vibration- I even had them semi trained to come out for food when I hit a post in their outside enclosure- but I never saw evidence they responded to vocal cues.

If you think about this in terms of evolutionary, what would they need to hear? Their main predators (big cats, canines) are silent stalkers that they depend on their shells for protection from. They don't use sound to find food, communicate daily information, etc.- but DO use it to identify a potential mate or enemy, or hatchlings in trouble.So, I guess it is possible your tortoise IS responding to your voice- if you happen to sound like a mating tortoise.
 

maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
5,165
Location (City and/or State)
PacificNorthWest
It is well documented that tortoises have decently developed hearing structures, but only respond to sounds made by fighting, mating, eggs hatching, and in some species, subsonic sounds carried through the soil. They ARE good with vibrations, smell, sight, memory, and a general sense of time.

I know a lot of people claim their torts hear them, but they have not shown that they have controlled for other variables- that is, how do we know they are not responding to vibrations, sight, smell, the idea that it is feeding time, etc.? My redfoots often responded to vibration- I even had them semi trained to come out for food when I hit a post in their outside enclosure- but I never saw evidence they responded to vocal cues.

If you think about this in terms of evolutionary, what would they need to hear? Their main predators (big cats, canines) are silent stalkers that they depend on their shells for protection from. They don't use sound to find food, communicate daily information, etc.- but DO use it to identify a potential mate or enemy, or hatchlings in trouble.So, I guess it is possible your tortoise IS responding to your voice- if you happen to sound like a mating tortoise.
Gosh, it's nice to hear from you. You have always been one of my favorites, most of whom are disappearing. How are ya? I'm alright I guess, got some bad news lately, but it ain't gonna stop me, just slow me down some. Animals are great. I got into and out of breeding parakeets, that was really fun. Anyway, it's nice to see you check in once in a while. Stop in more often. This is Big Sam, only he's not very big yet. About 50 lbs and 6 or 7 yrs. I just read that you don't have any tortoises now. Want one? I can offer you a choice of 2 different species, and I'll deliver the damn thing personally...lol

100_4490.JPG
 

Ribena

New Member
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
22
Location (City and/or State)
Cardiff UK
Mine can’t see me as I’m sat on settee looking discreetly into tortoise table but he seems to look around if you say “Herman woo-ooh “
 

Hutsie B

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2013
Messages
451
Location (City and/or State)
NC
I visited my aunt in Texas once who had a back yard full of bushes and a little lawn. She would go out in her yard and call, "Tortuga Tortuga" and out of the bushes a box turtle would come fast out to meet her and she would feed it. It would hang around the table we sat at and pull at shoe strings. Maybe he just saw her, but it seemed like he heard her.
 

Beasty_Artemis

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2016
Messages
614
Location (City and/or State)
Oregon Coast
My red foot, Artemis, seems like she/he can hear my dog tags jingling. They really love to chase that noise around the perimeter of the tortoise table. That must be the perfect pitch for her ears. The first day that I got them , her eyes just lit up at the sound! Interesting.
 

Zoeclare

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2020
Messages
690
Location (City and/or State)
Uk
I try to convince myself my tortoise comes to see me when I open his enclosure and call him but I'm sure it's really door slides open=food
 

gurgleblaster

Member
Joined
May 19, 2020
Messages
66
Location (City and/or State)
Charlotte
Humans psychologically tend to project personified identities to other organisms. However that being said there is something to repetition. While they might not be able to discern sounds they have a very good sense of smell and as mentioned are Great with vibrations. If you repeatedly call your tort/s at the same time for the same reason in a fairly isolated manner i.e. No other sounds or smells and approach at the same location. You probably can train them to recognize your smell and vibrational sound depending on the species as brain size does effect things like memory. The next step would be to associate that memory with a food treat or exploration time (like taking them outside etc.)

So yes you are food god/goddess but that makes them happy and gives them positive memories of your presence. Which is really all we can ask for 😁
 

RainsOn

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
263
Location (City and/or State)
NE OK
I truly am a sane and rational person. I had my own wildlife rehabilitation for several years. I understand everything you are writing about from a scientific and zoological stand point - and I do agree. However . . . . . my husband calls me crazy. I wholeheartedly believe that we can have a "bond" with another creature. When my "little prince", Digger, is burrowed into his log outside, I can call his name from the back door and he will emerge. We have played a "winking" game. When he is indoors in his terrarium, he will wake when I call his name; even when he is not hungry. Digger will leave his food and seek my attention when he sees me. But, here is where my husband is telling people behind my back that I have lost it: Digger has recently "talked" to me. As I coo at him and tell him what a handsome little prince he is (Don't tell anyone a grown woman acts like this with an amphibian.), he has actually made girgling noises in his throat. The more we respond to lesser creatures, the more likely we are to make contact.
 

maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
5,165
Location (City and/or State)
PacificNorthWest
He probably gurgles at you cuz he has an URTI. lol Just teasin. I had a male Sulcata over 100 lbs. He was killed in 2015. We had a very special bond, I could write about him constantly. But even with Bob and there's no doubt he felt something for me, mostly I was the food goddess. He followed me around like a dog with separation anxiety. lol 100_3428.JPG
 

RainsOn

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
263
Location (City and/or State)
NE OK
LOVE Bob! He is adorable! Here's another one: When he is in his bath, I can blow (through my mouth) at him and he will respond by snorting air - he blows through his nose. It is special when an animal relates to you.
 

Quixx66

Active Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2018
Messages
302
Location (City and/or State)
Louisiana
It is well documented that tortoises have decently developed hearing structures, but only respond to sounds made by fighting, mating, eggs hatching, and in some species, subsonic sounds carried through the soil. They ARE good with vibrations, smell, sight, memory, and a general sense of time.

I know a lot of people claim their torts hear them, but they have not shown that they have controlled for other variables- that is, how do we know they are not responding to vibrations, sight, smell, the idea that it is feeding time, etc.? My redfoots often responded to vibration- I even had them semi trained to come out for food when I hit a post in their outside enclosure- but I never saw evidence they responded to vocal cues.

If you think about this in terms of evolutionary, what would they need to hear? Their main predators (big cats, canines) are silent stalkers that they depend on their shells for protection from. They don't use sound to find food, communicate daily information, etc.- but DO use it to identify a potential mate or enemy, or hatchlings in trouble.So, I guess it is possible your tortoise IS responding to your voice- if you happen to sound like a mating tortoise.
I’m setting up his enclosure on same dresser as the printer. It vibrates and make noise. Do I need to move my new tort elsewhere? TY.
 

RainsOn

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
263
Location (City and/or State)
NE OK
YES! Someone accepts it is a possibility. I'm conjecturing: to have one tort that you spend quality time with, outside of meals, can lead to some very interesting situations. I believe an animal knows (eventually) when you really care about them and respond. If Digger is not hungry, he won't even eat his favorites. When Digger is hungry, he eats - unless I am in the area. He will actually crawl over his food and come to me. (Some will say he is seeking more food.) Any tortoise keeper will admit each one has their own individual personality. I believe we are under estimating the intelligence (awareness?) of these ancient creatures who have been around so long as to acquired the intelligent curiosity that leads to a relationship - at least on some level. I continue to test out this theory. Digger 13.jpg
 
Top