Does my tortoise recognize my voice?

Hbewsher

New Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2018
Messages
28
Location (City and/or State)
NY
Hello all,

So, I was curious about this. I have a 10 month old cherry head so is very friendly (not shy at all, follows my hands, comes out of his hide nearly every time I am lingering near his enclosure for more than a moment.) I have also been target training him, to touch a red ball on a stick to receive mazuri diet. This was mostly persued out of curiosity on my part, bit it seems to be great enrichment for him.

I recently was away for 2 weeks, and my partner was taking care of our tortoise. He says that the tortoise does not come out to him, at least not nearly as much as when I am home. To prove his case, the moment I walk in the door and spend 5 minutes in the vacinity of his enclosure, my tort is out of his hide and propped up again the door, seemingly eager to see me. Besides the sounds of our voices, and faces, the only real difference is that I am the one offering the target training sessions, and I feed and soak him the majority of the time. I had assumed he was just responding to the presence of a generic human food god.

I was under the impression turtles and tortoises don't hear well, at least at higher frequencies that we generally use. Does anyone else have torts or turtles that seem to strongly favor certain people? If so, do you beleive it to be visual or auditory recognition?

Thanks!
-Hannah
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
90,777
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
It might have to do more with smell than hearing. Before I retired from my job, I would be out taking care of tortoises at zero dark thirty. As I was standing in the Manouria area, by their feeding station, but tending to the birds and their food and water, the Manouria always came out, in the dark, completely quiet, to check out the food I had put down for them. So maybe your little guy recognizes your scent rather than your voice?
 

Hbewsher

New Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2018
Messages
28
Location (City and/or State)
NY
Thank you all for the input! I should have considered all of his senses..

t
This is very interesting, Be sure to update us about the training every now and then :)

Will do; it's been fascinating to see how quickly and strongly he responded to it. I did some dog obedience training in 4-H back in the day, and during one summer program, we were given a chicken to train for a few days. Being food motivated, reasonably smart and liking to peck at things goes a long way in teaching novel behaviors. Redfoots do not seem unlike chickens in those ways.

We will see in time if he can surpass my obediance camp chicken.

Also, happy birthday!
 

TechnoCheese

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2016
Messages
4,203
Location (City and/or State)
Lewisville, Texas
Thank you all for the input! I should have considered all of his senses..

t

Will do; it's been fascinating to see how quickly and strongly he responded to it. I did some dog obedience training in 4-H back in the day, and during one summer program, we were given a chicken to train for a few days. Being food motivated, reasonably smart and liking to peck at things goes a long way in teaching novel behaviors. Redfoots do not seem unlike chickens in those ways.

We will see in time if he can surpass my obediance camp chicken.

Also, happy birthday!

Thank you!
 

Pastel Tortie

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 31, 2018
Messages
4,264
Location (City and/or State)
North Florida
Don't underestimate their ability to pick up on who is near their enclosure by the footsteps and any vibrations related to the footsteps. Different materials transfer vibration differently, but unless there's a good insulator underfoot, they may be able to sense a familiar person is incoming.
 

ZEROPILOT

REDFOOT WRANGLER
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
25,700
Location (City and/or State)
South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
I say yes.
I'm not sure what exactly they hear.
But my wife can say "hello" to Julio and she (he) comes right out of hiding. Now the baby does too.
I have to tap on the wall of the enclosure for the same response. I can call them and yell all morning long. Nothing.
I have a much deeper voice than Kelly does. But something in her softer tone the tortoises can "hear".
So yes. They know me from her. And that means food to them.
I never considered the fact that she also always smells much better....
 

Pastel Tortie

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 31, 2018
Messages
4,264
Location (City and/or State)
North Florida
I say yes.
I'm not sure what exactly they hear.
But my wife can say "hello" to Julio and she (he) comes right out of hiding. Now the baby does too.
I have to tap on the wall of the enclosure for the same response. I can call them and yell all morning long. Nothing.
I have a much deeper voice than Kelly does. But something in her softer tone the tortoises can "hear".
So yes. They know me from her. And that means food to them.
I never considered the fact that she also always smells much better....
With the turtles, I don't think smell has much to do with it. Especially the mud turtle hatchlings, who are set up in very shallow water. They're in separate small dishpans inside of a 20L tank. I don't think the smells outside the tank would permeate well into the tank, especially since the tank is in the bedroom where the ambient smell would be similar to that of the resident bipeds.

@ZEROPILOT I think you're onto something about the softer tone of voice they seem to respond to better. I call it the"sweet talking" voice. My significant other doesn't have a particularly deep voice, but when he goes into that softer tone of voice, he instantly has the attention of the mud turtles or the box turtle, whichever he's talking to.
 

Pastel Tortie

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 31, 2018
Messages
4,264
Location (City and/or State)
North Florida
On a related note, my box turtle picks up on when I'm using my own "sweet talking" voice... and when I'm using that voice directed at someone else (another turtle) who is NOT her. And I don't think she was happy about it.

A few months ago, I had the box turtle soaking in a container on one side of the bathroom counter. Then I set up the mud turtle hatchlings in separate containers on the opposite end of the bathroom counter. No line of sight between them. The box turtle noticed when I was "sweet talking" to the hatchlings and paid very close attention from her soaking tub.

I got the box turtle out from her soaking tub first, and while holding her a couple feet or so away from the mud turtle hatchlings, let her see the new turtles. When I put the box turtle down in her enclosure, she went right over to her cuttlebone and snapped at it. It was as if she was taking out her upset-ness on the cuttlebone. No question, she prefers to be an only turtle.
 

omhoge

Active Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 8, 2016
Messages
102
I firmly believe our tortoise absolutely knows who we are. He'll pull if anyone else feeds him or tries to pick him up.

Years ago, I took him to a vet, not a good one for turtles like we have now, with lots of loud dogs in the office and the Turtle pulled in !HARD!,
Absolutely nothing would get him to come out and he stayed pulled in when I put him in the travel box. As soon as we got to our apartment door,
he heard Donna Summer blasting and smelled the incense we were burning for a holiday (side note: we keep it away from him now) and he instantly came out and started trying to climb out.

When he was out of his pen, I used to be able to call his name saying 'come on turtle!' and he'd come out from where he was hiding and chase my feet all over the apartment. Now that he's older and ailing, I often have to coax him to eat in the mornings. For several months now, I've been saying the same phrases while I pet him before setting him near his food, and I swear to you, it's helping him eat.

Now-a-days when we let him out, if he's not hanging out by our feet and he feels like hiding, he's always somewhere that he can see us and keeps an eye on us.
Just because their brains are small, I wouldn't underestimate how much these critters know.
 

Tim Carlisle

Well-Known Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
1,622
Location (City and/or State)
Cincinnati, OH
They certainly have a keen sense of smell. Ghost is apprehensive if anyone but me prepares its food. It also will only allow me to stroke its neck. Not sure if that's the smell thing again or if it can be attributed (at least in part) to sight recognition.
 

Ketta

Active Member
Joined
May 7, 2019
Messages
224
Location (City and/or State)
Venezuela
Well i had been only 5 days with Keto but when i sweet talk to him he comes out and stretches his neck and i can see his eyes moves slightly like when someone don't have their glasses on and cant see well. He doesn't let everyone pet him so far, just me lol..
 

dmmj

The member formerly known as captain awesome
10 Year Member!
Joined
Aug 15, 2008
Messages
19,720
Location (City and/or State)
CA
It's not really the size of their brain but rather brain to body ratio I'm pretty sure Will could explain it much better but I would probably need a college degree to understand it all :) elephants have big brains but compared to their body size ratio you know like I said I'm sure it could be explained better by someone a lot smarter than me. their sense of smell is probably better than their eyes or their hearing. Pethaps they like a female smell compared to a male smell. (Just like I do)
 

Madkins007

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Feb 15, 2008
Messages
5,393
Location (City and/or State)
Nebraska
You can find lots of interesting research on tortoise hearing. They actually have decent ears, but only respond to sounds that might involve hatching eggs or mating/combat sounds. So how do they recognise you? Sight, vibration, smell (especially the food you are bringing), and probably even timing (knowing that you show up about the same time each day.)

They are also fairly smart (about white rat level, which is pretty good). They probably do pattern matching like humans and dogs do. The outline, movements, timing, scents, etc. create patterns. THIS pattern means food, while this pattern means cage maintenance, etc.

For a while, I tried an experiment with my herd when they were outside and drove a long stake in the middle of their pen. Before I fed them, I would smack the stake a few times. THey came initially because it was me but once I got them used to the vibration/stimuli, they would gather for my wife or children as well. It also came in handy when I needed to gather the herd... you know, to pass on the daily commands in our grand plot to... um... nevermind. Forget I said anything.
 

Wolfpackin

Member
Joined
May 28, 2018
Messages
94
Location (City and/or State)
Colorado
For a while, I tried an experiment with my herd when they were outside and drove a long stake in the middle of their pen. Before I fed them, I would smack the stake a few times. THey came initially because it was me but once I got them used to the vibration/stimuli, they would gather for my wife or children as well. It also came in handy when I needed to gather the herd... you know, to pass on the daily commands in our grand plot to... um... nevermind. Forget I said anything.

:D
 
Top