Do torties recognize a vertical drop?

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RianSeeking

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We had our first over 60 degree day today so my Russians were allowed to try their newly built out door pen.

We basically built a long raised bed along the north wall of our house. Probably roughly 20ft by 2ft. One half of the bed is vegetable garden, one half Tortland. The bed is bordered by foundation stone. Great southern exposure.

My male Russian, Santa, is an escape artist. So I pulled up a chair and waited to see where I would need to tort proof the pen. Sure enough, he eventually slipped around a gap in his chicken wire fencing and then climbed straight up the 7 inch stone wall (albeit slowly and with much straining).

The top of the wall is smooth and wide. The sun was shining. Santa spent the next hour (under my supervision) walking the wall, looking out over the rose bushes and lilies and the grass he will someday be allowed to graze.

The bed is raised on the inside so the drop off the wall on the outside is probably twelve inches. Santa spent a LOT of time looking down over the edge but never tried to dive free.

He'll nose dive off of small rocks in his pen but he really seemed to think better of trying the wall.

Do they recognize heights and avoid them? Or is Santa just waiting until my back is turned to take a flying leap into the day lilies?
 

Tom

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Right now I have a 36" deep, 4x4' hole dug in my 3 year old sulcatas pen. I'm building an underground shelter and that's the hole it will sit in when I finish building it. She goes in her pen every day and has not yet fallen or jumped into the hole. I've seen her walk the the edge and even look in, but she stays well away from the edge. Kind of similar to what your russian did.

So it seems that at least our two torts have enough sense to avoid large drop offs.
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Greg T

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Mine will stop and look over edges while out exploring, sometimes they turn around and find another route, sometimes they just cruise on over if it is a relatively short drop of several inches. I know they see the drop, but I'm not sure how they interpret it. :D
 

CtTortoiseMom

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I have been wondering about this myself. Great thread!
 

Shelly

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Mine also avoid falling off ledges. I have a swimming pool, and they seem to know exactly what it is, and the danger it represents. When they were new, they walked right up to edge and really checked it out , now they stay far away.
 

Yvonne G

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Some tortoises do and some don't. I've actually seen desert tortoises walk right off the coping on the edge of an in-the-ground pool and fall into the water. And I've seen others walk up to the edge and then move away from it. So, in my experience, some have depth perception and some don't.
 

dmarcus

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Mines seems be able to but if he thinks he can make it then he will go right in, lucky I haven't had any holes that were that deep. Only found him flipped over once when he miss judged the depth of a ledge going into a hole I was working on.
 

Jacqui

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I think it's a mixed bag like Yvonne said. Some of mine won't chance even small edge drop off, while others are much more daring.
 

GregUnd

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I've been trying to find material to read on how tortoises see but I haven't been able to find much information. I would have to assume that they don't see worth a darn...??
 

Greg T

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GregUnd said:
I've been trying to find material to read on how tortoises see but I haven't been able to find much information. I would have to assume that they don't see worth a darn...??

On the contrary, I think they see pretty well. Mine can see me across the yard and recognize me at about 20' away. Perhaps it is more about how they think veruss what they see. Maybe it takes a few falls to learn, just like children. I'm just basing this on what I've seen, so maybe someone with more expertise will chime in too.
 
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Maggie Cummings

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I have 3 hatchlings I am treating now and twice immediately after getting an injection this one has fallen off the kitchen counter. I gave him his injection and some oral Calcionate and set him down to pick up the next one to treat and the first one dived right off the kitchen counter. The first time he landed on his back on the hard floor and the second time he landed on an area rug and walked off just as if he hadn't just taken a high dive off the counter. Yes, I will pay closer attention to him...but I just can't believe he didn't get hurt. This is a small sick soft hatchling and when I first saw him on the floor on his back it freaked me out. He should have been hurt, but nope he's not. Amazing. Out of the three, he is the only one who dived off. The other two first placed a front foot off the edge out into the air and they both backed up fast. The one just dived right off like he was high diving into a pool...I'm wondering if this means he's not very smart...
 

Madkins007

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Tortoises can see and interpret drops, but many seem to be perfectly OK going over them anyway. It may be a function of size/age, of natural range and habitat, or something else. There is a standard test used for animal studies in which they are in an enclosure with a glass window in the floor and a standard depth drop. Tortoises always seem to see and respond to the visual cliff edge.

As far as their vision goes, they actually have a wider color range than humans. We have 3 cones that receive color- basically red, green, and blue. Torts have 4 cones, one is thought to see UV light. Their do not seem to see as far as we can, though.
 
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