Do tortoises play?

Throckmortok

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I’m curious to hear what you think! I’m brand new to owning a tortoise, like only five days into it. Do tortoises play? If so, what does that play look like? Does it cart from different tortoise types? I’ve got a Russian tortoise if that helps. Does your turtles play, if it does play, involve you?
 

Sarah2020

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Hi sadly they do not play like dogs. However you can provide an interesting enclosure for it to explore and live inc plants, hide and small rocks. Tye main thing is to bond so he knows you are taking care of him . weigh weekly and keep a log. Provide shallow warm water soaks 3 times a week for 30 mins this help him hydrate and poo and wee.

note...They can flip over when young so watch out and flip back, if your away for a few hours take out anything that causes flipping as they can struggle to self right. Provide fresh water am and pm in a shallow dish he can walk in and sit in and fresh green leaves. Please read the care sheet to ensure the environment is good for a healthy happy tort.
Ask questions and share pictures. Enjoy your shelled warrior.
 

Lyn W

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Hi and welcome,
Torts are solitary creatures and like to do their own thing.
My tortoise doesn't 'play' as such, but he loves to explore which is why a good sized enclosure is needed for them.
My tort has his own room and he has a kiddies play tunnel in there which he loves to stomp around, through and even under. You can get smaller play tunnels for cats which could be used in larger outside enclosures. (I wouldn't advise letting your tort loose in the house to use one though - too dangerous)
If you post some pics of his enclosure, members can advise you on any ways you can enrich it.
 

TammyJ

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Hi sadly they do not play like dogs. However you can provide an interesting enclosure for it to explore and live inc plants, hide and small rocks. Tye main thing is to bond so he knows you are taking care of him . weigh weekly and keep a log. Provide shallow warm water soaks 3 times a week for 30 mins this help him hydrate and poo and wee.

note...They can flip over when young so watch out and flip back, if your away for a few hours take out anything that causes flipping as they can struggle to self right. Provide fresh water am and pm in a shallow dish he can walk in and sit in and fresh green leaves. Please read the care sheet to ensure the environment is good for a healthy happy tort.
Ask questions and share pictures. Enjoy your shelled warrior.
What "fresh green leaves" do you mean? This may be misunderstood by a new owner.
 

Tom

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I’m curious to hear what you think! I’m brand new to owning a tortoise, like only five days into it. Do tortoises play? If so, what does that play look like? Does it cart from different tortoise types? I’ve got a Russian tortoise if that helps. Does your turtles play, if it does play, involve you?
Animal behavior is my profession, hobby, passion and interest. I've never seen anything that I would consider "play" in any reptile.
 

Throckmortok

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Hi sadly they do not play like dogs. However you can provide an interesting enclosure for it to explore and live inc plants, hide and small rocks. Tye main thing is to bond so he knows you are taking care of him . weigh weekly and keep a log. Provide shallow warm water soaks 3 times a week for 30 mins this help him hydrate and poo and wee.

note...They can flip over when young so watch out and flip back, if your away for a few hours take out anything that causes flipping as they can struggle to self right. Provide fresh water am and pm in a shallow dish he can walk in and sit in and fresh green leaves. Please read the care sheet to ensure the environment is good for a healthy happy tort.
Ask questions and share pictures. Enjoy your shelled warrior.
Thank you so so much!!! He’s gotten himself into… precarious positions so I’ve had to be on high alert for him lol. He’s so funny. Glad to know I wasn’t being a helicopter parent and he can actually flip himself over. I live in a very rocky wooded area, so I’ll go out today to find some gooood rocks for my boy :p Thank you! I’ll give that sheet a read now <3
 

Throckmortok

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Hi and welcome,
Torts are solitary creatures and like to do their own thing.
My tortoise doesn't 'play' as such, but he loves to explore which is why a good sized enclosure is needed for them.
My tort has his own room and he has a kiddies play tunnel in there which he loves to stomp around, through and even under. You can get smaller play tunnels for cats which could be used in larger outside enclosures. (I wouldn't advise letting your tort loose in the house to use one though - too dangerous)
If you post some pics of his enclosure, members can advise you on any ways you can enrich it.
Okay, I’ll edit the post now with a video of it! From mentioned from the other post we were on, I have an outside tent for him too. I’ll post a picture of that as well.
 

TammyJ

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Ohhh, thank you! Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t boring him 😛
You can't bore him. You can make him comfortable or uncomfortable by how you treat and keep him, that's all. He can bore you though if you were the kind of pet owner who soon got bored once the fun and newness wore off - sadly, that happens to many reptile pets because they don't "play". I don't think you are that kind of person.🙂
 

xyhapu

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I’m curious to hear what you think! I’m brand new to owning a tortoise, like only five days into it. Do tortoises play? If so, what does that play look like? Does it cart from different tortoise types? I’ve got a Russian tortoise if that helps. Does your turtles play, if it does play, involve you?

That's an interesting question. Play behavior is evolutionarily attributed in part to letting an animal simulate behaviors like foraging, hunting, and fighting, and give it practice with real-world skills it will need to survive. Since this practice behavior could also be advantageous to a tortoise, I think it's certainly not impossible for tortoises and turtles to play.

As for what that would look like, it would probably appear as typical natural behavior, except unusually drawn-out and repetitious. For example, my box turtle will sometimes 'play' with his food, making the motions of eating it but spitting it back out, and generally 'screwing around' instead of chowing down from the start as he would normally do. Here's an example:


He is just a baby in this video, a few months old. As he's grown, I've seen less of this type of behavior; now he just aggressively (and competently) chows down on worms within a few seconds. Which makes sense for play behavior to taper off as an animal grows older and more skilled, as it becomes increasingly unnecessary.
 

pelchat22

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From my 1 year experience, I think it all depend on their personnality but it can be done by having them confidence in you. I pass 2 hours per day with her...bath,food and little bit of exercice with different stuff. She like to push thing and climb so I make like a play space for her. She also like to climb in my hand and can stay there for hours. Its not gonna be done in a couple of days only but you can try with small game like she need to pass between 2 box.

 

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TammyJ

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That's an interesting question. Play behavior is evolutionarily attributed in part to letting an animal simulate behaviors like foraging, hunting, and fighting, and give it practice with real-world skills it will need to survive. Since this practice behavior could also be advantageous to a tortoise, I think it's certainly not impossible for tortoises and turtles to play.

As for what that would look like, it would probably appear as typical natural behavior, except unusually drawn-out and repetitious. For example, my box turtle will sometimes 'play' with his food, making the motions of eating it but spitting it back out, and generally 'screwing around' instead of chowing down from the start as he would normally do. Here's an example:


He is just a baby in this video, a few months old. As he's grown, I've seen less of this type of behavior; now he just aggressively (and competently) chows down on worms within a few seconds. Which makes sense for play behavior to taper off as an animal grows older and more skilled, as it becomes increasingly unnecessary.
Why, he is simply eating as best he can, that's all. But it sure looks cute!
 

zolasmum

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I’m curious to hear what you think! I’m brand new to owning a tortoise, like only five days into it. Do tortoises play? If so, what does that play look like? Does it cart from different tortoise types? I’ve got a Russian tortoise if that helps. Does your turtles play, if it does play, involve you?
Our little Hermanns tortoise is nearly 22, and over recent years has developed an endearing play behaviour He has a conservatory in which I often sit with him. I usually wear loose stretchy dark coloured trousers, and lace-up fabric shoes. I generally wear black fabric ones with red trim.
Zola will come up to my feet, and embrace one of the shoes from the front toe, stroking it with both front legs, rhythmically, sometimes moving round a bit to hold and bite the laces gently. Then he may move on to pulling at the hem of my trousers- tugging it in his beak - being stretchy, it will spring back if he lets go, which I presume is part of the fun. He does occasionally have a small bite at my ankles, but I try to keep the trouser leg hems pulled down partly over my shoes, so he doesn't see any skin to bite at. All this is very gentle behaviour, and he can go on doing it for half an hour or more, if I don't have to get up for any reason. He does it most days now.
The only thing I think may have inspired this game is that I do stroke him a lot.
Does anyone else have a tortoise who does this, I wonder.?
I wish I could film it.
There are days when he can be quite fierce, rampaging round his room - he isn't always cuddly and sweet, but I feel quite honoured when he does behave in such a playful way.
Angie
 

Gillian M

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A very interesting question, though I have sadly come to a conclusion that no reptile "plays."

In the past, I tried time and once again to "play" with Oli, and I even tried to train him to do certain things, uselessly, I very much regret to say.
 

Henry’s mom

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Hi. I am definitely not an expert and really a newbie myself. BUT I saw you understood that someone said they could flip back over by themselves. I think when they’re older they may have an easier time trying to do this but my baby was never able to do it and they can die from it if I’m not mistaken especially if they are under a heat lamp, in water too deep, or for a long period of time. If I am incorrect someone please correct me. Thank you and enjoy your new little buddy! 🐢❤️
 

TammyJ

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Hi. I am definitely not an expert and really a newbie myself. BUT I saw you understood that someone said they could flip back over by themselves. I think when they’re older they may have an easier time trying to do this but my baby was never able to do it and they can die from it if I’m not mistaken especially if they are under a heat lamp, in water too deep, or for a long period of time. If I am incorrect someone please correct me. Thank you and enjoy your new little buddy! 🐢❤️
Absolutely they cannot always flip back over! And it can cause death in various situations or just from being suffocated because they have been on their back too long.
 

cemeterytoad

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I've definitely seen what I would categorize as play in some reptiles I've worked with: I give my blue-tongue skink supervised access to a small water fountain (from five below) for enrichment and she obviously enjoys splashing around beyond just getting clean, biting at the moving water with her mouth. I even caught her doing a barrel roll under the water stream. My friend's leopard gecko pushes around a ball in his tank sometimes, and pretend-hunts it, wiggling his tail like a cat at play. He knows he can't eat it, he's had the same ping pong ball for years. Mostly I've seen carnivorous or omnivorous reptile engage on the more obvious play behaviors, but I don't see why a tortoise wouldn't engage in simply movement play, or even social sparring like many other herbivorous animals.
 

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