episodic memories

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Cfr200

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Do you think tortoises have episodic memories? I am trying to find out with an experiment. I place their favorite food in one of three places, this place changes on a rotating basis. Day one it is in place one day two place two etc. up to three then it repeats. So far they have not caught on to the pattern. I still put their regular food in the same place everyday just move the treat. Both my tortoises now look for the treat every morning, but they do not walk straight to where it is. They do a lap and look for it. Do you ever think they will catch on to the pattern? I have been doing this for 2 weeks now. I did notice that they always follow the same path when looking for their treat.
 

Edna

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Cfr200 said:
Do you think tortoises have episodic memories? I am trying to find out with an experiment. I place their favorite food in one of three places, this place changes on a rotating basis. Day one it is in place one day two place two etc. up to three then it repeats. So far they have not caught on to the pattern. I still put their regular food in the same place everyday just move the treat. Both my tortoises now look for the treat every morning, but they do not walk straight to where it is. They do a lap and look for it. Do you ever think they will catch on to the pattern? I have been doing this for 2 weeks now. I did notice that they always follow the same path when looking for their treat.

Maybe you're starting too complex. Why not try just 2 locations first?
 

Zeely

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That sounds like a very interesting experiment. I often wondered how much of their behavior was instinct and how much was learned. Do different species have different capacities for learning? Have there been other studies done on the cognitive development of tortoises?
 

ALDABRAMAN

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Very interesting. We notice for sure consistant patterns. Unsure if they have reasoning abilities. For example they, most always, start out by herding up to the gate in the mormings waiting for treats, like sampson is waiting at the gate in the picture. When they see the "RED" bucket, they all come for the Mazuri. Seems evident that they associate the "RED" with food.


2yl78zr.jpg
 

Tom

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Very interesting. I'm just going to guess that they won't catch on to that complex of a pattern. Especially since they have already fallen into a pattern of walking a given path until they find the treat. Their current pattern always leads them to the treat, so why would they change?

Fun stuff. Keep us posted. I'd love for my guess to be wrong. That would have some interesting implications.
 

mike1011

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I dont think they will catch on to the pattern. I find most torts to be creatures of habit. They do the same routines at the same time every day and this makes caring for them that much easier.
 

Cfr200

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Edna said:
Maybe you're starting too complex. Why not try just 2 locations first?

I was going to just do 2 but thought 3 would lower the chance of just plain luck.
They do both walk in a anti clockwise lap around their table looking for their treat, so that is something I did not know before.
 

CtTortoiseMom

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Every morning I feed Leia on her slab. Most day's she is waiting there for me. I also give her an afternoon snack on a log in her enclosure, which she will also wait by. If I don't think she has moved enough I will put the snack in a different location to encourage exercise. She will wait by the log until I walk away. Then I am pretty sure she roll's her tortoise eyes at me and goes off in search of her snack. Her snack will not be in a consistent place but I do see her checking past snack spots as she searches.
I am very methodical regarding the times I feed her and she definitely know's when it is feeding or snack time. Do you think this proves/disproved anything?
 

Leebug

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CtTortoiseMom said:
Every morning I feed Leia on her slab. Most day's she is waiting there for me. I also give her an afternoon snack on a log in her enclosure, which she will also wait by. If I don't think she has moved enough I will put the snack in a different location to encourage exercise. She will wait by the log until I walk away. Then I am pretty sure she roll's her tortoise eyes at me and goes off in search of her snack. Her snack will not be in a consistent place but I do see her checking past snack spots as she searches.
I am very methodical regarding the times I feed her and she definitely know's when it is feeding or snack time. Do you think this proves/disproved anything?

lol ;) "rolls her tortoise eyes" love it!!
 

harris

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It's only been two weeks. I'm assuming that previous to this you fed them in a single location? They were able to remember that location even though you've been moving it throughout the week. I would not be surprised that over a month's time or two that they aren't immediately going to those 3 spots. I recall Yvonne's story of her one Manouria seeking out potted plants and tipping them in search of the slugs that lie underneath. I know that wasn't a location memory, but it was a visual object memory.
 

Cfr200

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I don't move their normal food spot I added a treat spot and that is what I move. I started with it in one place for a week until I was sure they went to it everyday and then I began moving the treat spot. I am planning on doing it for a month and then add sound a different one for each place. My plan is to make the sound and then show them what place the sound goes with. Then give them a month to see if they figure it out.
I did it before with my dogs and they could not figure it out either until I put the sounds to it and then they got it right every time after about a week. All they did is associate the sound with where there treat was not that everyday had a specific spot with it.
I just wanted to see if anyone tried this sort of thing before.
 

Edna

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Cfr200 said:
Edna said:
Maybe you're starting too complex. Why not try just 2 locations first?

I was going to just do 2 but thought 3 would lower the chance of just plain luck.
They do both walk in a anti clockwise lap around their table looking for their treat, so that is something I did not know before.

Learning that is a result of just plain luck is a beautiful thing. You ask the animal to do something, they have no idea what you want but they're willing so they offer to try something and you've set it up so that what they try is what you wanted. You reward big time and the critter feels like a super star genius!!! Of course I'm thinking dogs and horses here. Tortoise learning is probably a lot different because if nothing else their pace is very different, but they are at least motivated to search for treats. I wouldn't rule out luck as being counter to your objectives.
 

Madkins007

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There are several research articles on tortoises and memory/learning. They do a good job learning mazes, and they can learn to solve mazes by watching other tortoises solve them.

In your experiment, how long had you used the previous feeding spot, and did you do anything to help them learn or identify the new sites? After all, going from one site to three is a big step all in one, and in two weeks, it has only been 4-5 cycles.
 

Cfr200

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I have used the previous spot for months. They still have food in their normal place this is only additional food, that they really like. In their normal spot they get their greens in the moving food spot they get a little pumpkin mixed with mazuri, so you can think of it as dessert. I place it there in the morning when I put their regular food down they see me and then the search begins. So they have an idea that their "dessert" is in play. Then they begin walking their lap and always going in the same direction. They stop at each spot until they find the one with the food once they do they eat and do not look anymore. So they have figured out that if their food is in position 1 that it is not anywhere else. They do go back and eat their normal food afterwards. I was hoping that they would just walk to the right position depending on the day and they still might.
They are both young only about 11 months old, so I will try again when they get older. I will have to read the studies you are talking about they sound interesting. They have shown me that they learn, maybe they just cannot learn the time relationship needed in this problem.
I know there have been studies and chimps cannot figure out time either, but some birds do. It might be because time is not that important in the day to day life of a tortoise or chimp. They might depend only on environmental cues to decided when it is time to change behaviors.
 

Balboa

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I think you've hit on it with

"It might be because time is not that important in the day to day life of a tortoise or chimp. They might depend only on environmental cues to decided when it is time to change behaviors"

Weeks, months and days of the week are a human construct to help organize our lives. I don't know about you, but on an extended vacation (whether self-chosen or not) I tend to lose track of the day of the week myself.

It seems like you've constructed a three day week for them, an interesting experiment for sure. Either they are not capable of conceiving this notion, or the benefit of learning it is not quite extreme enough for them to bother.

Environmental cues would seem to be a more likely avenue to succede then. Rainy days, dry days, warm days, cool days, etc, are all things I'd expect them to cue to and then figure out the "goods" will be in a given spot on that type of day.

This is why I have different color temp lights on timers in my tort's enclosure that change "the feel" of the lighting over the days progression (even if only just a little, I'd like to add more progression). This seems to help give them an idea on time of day as they would have in the wild.

Once again, very interesting study and thanks for sharing that!
 

Livingstone

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ALDABRAMAN said:
Very interesting. We notice for sure consistant patterns. Unsure if they have reasoning abilities. For example they, most always, start out by herding up to the gate in the mormings waiting for treats, like sampson is waiting at the gate in the picture. When they see the "RED" bucket, they all come for the Mazuri. Seems evident that they associate the "RED" with food.


2yl78zr.jpg

Every time I see your "setup" I think to myself this is how it should be.

You hiring?
 
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