Carnivorous behaviour in a greek tortoise

RJOfford

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Hi there,

I have a four year old greek tortoise (testudo graeca ibera), who is active, healthy and eats well. I feed him a mixture of dandelion, lavatera, viola, plantain, campanula, clover, vetch, hawksbeard, hawk bit, sow thistle and mallow, and he gets a good mixture of these two or three times a day, plus he has some edible plants in his enclosure which he can nibble on in addition to what I put down. He has access to a couple of water bowls for drinking/bathing which are changed at least twice a day. Accordingly, he eats well and and has never been raised on bad foods, like fruits or pellets or any kind of meat.

However, today, I noticed that he was chewing on something and when I went to investigate I found that he was trying to eat a dead mouse that my cat had caught. It was 'fresh' in that it wasn't there yesterday so the cat must have caught the mouse over night or this morning, but I was very surprised to see that the tortoise was trying to eat it. He had one of the paws in his mouth, and was trying to tear it off. I waited for him to open his mouth and gently removed the mouse before he had a chance to get any further. Now I am aware that it's common for tortoises to eat small invertebrates, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and that they will sometimes eat snails for the calcium in their shells, but I've never seen or heard of a tortoise scavenging on meat.

Has anyone else come across anything similar?
 

rattboy

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There are documented cases of Herman’s rating fallen baby birds. It happens. Sometimes they are seeking a nutrient they need. Nothing to worry about behaviorally speaking.
 

zolasmum

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Hi there,

I have a four year old greek tortoise (testudo graeca ibera), who is active, healthy and eats well. I feed him a mixture of dandelion, lavatera, viola, plantain, campanula, clover, vetch, hawksbeard, hawk bit, sow thistle and mallow, and he gets a good mixture of these two or three times a day, plus he has some edible plants in his enclosure which he can nibble on in addition to what I put down. He has access to a couple of water bowls for drinking/bathing which are changed at least twice a day. Accordingly, he eats well and and has never been raised on bad foods, like fruits or pellets or any kind of meat.

However, today, I noticed that he was chewing on something and when I went to investigate I found that he was trying to eat a dead mouse that my cat had caught. It was 'fresh' in that it wasn't there yesterday so the cat must have caught the mouse over night or this morning, but I was very surprised to see that the tortoise was trying to eat it. He had one of the paws in his mouth, and was trying to tear it off. I waited for him to open his mouth and gently removed the mouse before he had a chance to get any further. Now I am aware that it's common for tortoises to eat small invertebrates, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and that they will sometimes eat snails for the calcium in their shells, but I've never seen or heard of a tortoise scavenging on meat.

Has anyone else come across anything similar?
 

zolasmum

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I think the real problem would be if the rat had ingested rat poison, which wouldn't be very good for your tortoise or your cat.
Angie
 

RJOfford

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Well the mouse was dead but clearly hadn't been eaten (it was not marked or missing any limbs or anything) so as neither the cat or the tortoise had actually eaten anything, then no concerns there. Just found it odd that a tortoise would try and eat a dead mammal.
 

wellington

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Well the mouse was dead but clearly hadn't been eaten (it was not marked or missing any limbs or anything) so as neither the cat or the tortoise had actually eaten anything, then no concerns there. Just found it odd that a tortoise would try and eat a dead mammal.
Not really odd at all. But because in areas we live, poisoning has to he considered when mice or rats specially are being eaten.
 

RJOfford

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Yes, fully agreed. Thankfully my cat never eats them, he just brings them in to the garden as a present for me...
 

Tom

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Just found it odd that a tortoise would try and eat a dead mammal.
Pretty normal. We discuss this here every once in a while when something reminds us of the topic. There was recently a video circulating of a large Aldabra tortoise chasing after a baby seabird and eating it. Sulcatas will often eat the dead animals that go into their burrows to seek shelter from the hot sun and die. Wild leopard tortoise consume a fairly large amount of mammal feces as part of their normal diet. I speculate that this would mostly be ungulate droppings, but the study didn't differentiate. I saw footage on a nature program many years ago of a wild Galapagos tortoise that would stand tall at the water's edge and make shade from the hot sun for little birdies to come get a drink. Then he'd plop down and squish them while they drank, back up, eat the smooshed ones, and then re-assume the position for the next batch.
 

SallyW

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Hi there,

I have a four year old greek tortoise (testudo graeca ibera), who is active, healthy and eats well. I feed him a mixture of dandelion, lavatera, viola, plantain, campanula, clover, vetch, hawksbeard, hawk bit, sow thistle and mallow, and he gets a good mixture of these two or three times a day, plus he has some edible plants in his enclosure which he can nibble on in addition to what I put down. He has access to a couple of water bowls for drinking/bathing which are changed at least twice a day. Accordingly, he eats well and and has never been raised on bad foods, like fruits or pellets or any kind of meat.

However, today, I noticed that he was chewing on something and when I went to investigate I found that he was trying to eat a dead mouse that my cat had caught. It was 'fresh' in that it wasn't there yesterday so the cat must have caught the mouse over night or this morning, but I was very surprised to see that the tortoise was trying to eat it. He had one of the paws in his mouth, and was trying to tear it off. I waited for him to open his mouth and gently removed the mouse before he had a chance to get any further. Now I am aware that it's common for tortoises to eat small invertebrates, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and that they will sometimes eat snails for the calcium in their shells, but I've never seen or heard of a tortoise scavenging on meat.

Has anyone else come across anything similar?
All I can say is this…
 

jsheffield

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As others have said, they're opportunistic feeders.

I've seen my Russians eat pillbugs and earthworms in their inside enclosures, and chase down crickets in their outside enclosures... not a big or regular part of their diet, but still outside of the everyday greens and flowers.

Jamie
 

Obbie

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Hi there,

I have a four year old greek tortoise (testudo graeca ibera), who is active, healthy and eats well. I feed him a mixture of dandelion, lavatera, viola, plantain, campanula, clover, vetch, hawksbeard, hawk bit, sow thistle and mallow, and he gets a good mixture of these two or three times a day, plus he has some edible plants in his enclosure which he can nibble on in addition to what I put down. He has access to a couple of water bowls for drinking/bathing which are changed at least twice a day. Accordingly, he eats well and and has never been raised on bad foods, like fruits or pellets or any kind of meat.

However, today, I noticed that he was chewing on something and when I went to investigate I found that he was trying to eat a dead mouse that my cat had caught. It was 'fresh' in that it wasn't there yesterday so the cat must have caught the mouse over night or this morning, but I was very surprised to see that the tortoise was trying to eat it. He had one of the paws in his mouth, and was trying to tear it off. I waited for him to open his mouth and gently removed the mouse before he had a chance to get any further. Now I am aware that it's common for tortoises to eat small invertebrates, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and that they will sometimes eat snails for the calcium in their shells, but I've never seen or heard of a tortoise scavenging on meat.

Has anyone else come across anything similar?
Yes ! There is a NatGeo article about a Galapagos tortoise (can’t remember which one), they got footage of the tortoise hunting down a baby tern and caught it and ATE it. I’m still feeling unsettled
 

conservation

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My Moroccan Tortoises actively chase insects similarly to Box Turtles.
 

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