Male cherryheads--fighting again...many pics

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cdmay

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While I have kept many adult redfoot tortoises over the years I had seen aggression only on one occasion and involving only one adult male tortoise. That animal, a 'northern' type that was probably of Colombian origin, was highly aggressive towards any other redfoot tortoise, regardless of sex. Although he had extremely nice color he could never be used for breeding purposes as he would savagely bite any other redfoot he encountered. His behavior was completely aberrant for some unknown reason and so he was kept in isolation as a pet by some other tortoise keepers.
However about ten years ago I obtained an adult male cherryhead to add to my group of one male and three female cherryheads that I had been breeding. What I quickly learned was that those two males could never be kept to together as they would engage in a ritualized combat that would end up with serious biting.
Even when another male was added to the colony, this third male would fight with either of the existing males whenever they were placed in the same pen at the same time.

Recently I posted some photos of two of my adult males that, although they were in the same large enclosure for only a brief period of time, had inflicted some decent wounds on each other from fighting. One of the males in the most recent episode named Moe was also one of the males that was involved in aggressive behavior over ten years ago.

A few days ago I tried once again to see if these two males could co-exist within the same environment and so the smaller, younger male was released into the other male's territory. It didn't take long for the younger male to spot the older male Moe who was actively courting a female. The result was that the smaller male, named Pindo, pursued the larger Moe and began ramming his shell. In this first photo you can see that the male in the rear (Pindo) is actively battering Moe as he was trailing the female...

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The result was that Moe immediately broke off from trailing the female and with a "What the...?" look turned and engaged Pindo...

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Although I refused to allow these guys to really hurt each other I did want to see if maybe they could resolve their differences quickly and decide who will be the boss.
Well, that wasn't going to happen. These photos are in sequence...

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What these two males basically did was take turns biting each other but with each attempt they tried to get closer to the other's face. As the event went on they made more concerted efforts to really harm each other and you could hear the sound of their bites from several feet away. I broke it up after it was clear that one or both of my little buddies was going to get messed up, but good.

cont...
 

N2TORTS

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I think those two are from " NORTH" COMPTON! ...aka " Northerns"
:p
Carl,
Only once have seen one of my males fight ( a new guy) , but after the initial supervised intro the larger male deffinitly made it clear who was " Da' Boss ! And I have never witnessed or see any damages thus far. I think its an individual thing and also how many breeding females are around for the males to frolic with .
... Hope things are going well .. and looking forward to the warmer weather!
JD~:)
 

cdmay

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Knowing that other cherryhead keepers maintain more than one male and keep them together without that much fighting I decided to try Moe and Pindo in the same enclosure one more time a few days later.
Once again Pindo, who seems to be the one to start things, was placed at the farthest end of the very large pen. I should point out that this place is well landscaped and the animals were not in visual contact when the second male was introduced.
I think it took about five minutes for these guys to find each other. Once again Pindo crept up on Moe and started his ramming which lead to Moe's response...

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After I snapped a couple of photos Moe was destracted by me and turned his head in my direction. Pindo took advantage of this and went for a leg...

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BTW, the stuff hanging from Moe's mouth is part of a flower and he often walks about like that.
There was some head twitching followed by very deliberate attempts to do some damage...

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After this last photo I stepped in and broke these two up. It is pretty obvious to me that they will not be able to be housed together.

I want to make it clear that I do not expose my animals to the danger of them hurting each other and in both of these recent encounters neither male was injured.
As I have only heard of this kind of aggression in the cherryhead form of redfoot (a couple of other cherryhead keepers have told me of similar events) I wonder why it is that they engage in this behavior? Is this yet another thing that makes them unique?
 

N2TORTS

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Here are the largest of my Two male Cherrys. They co habitat all the time with 0 aggression towards each other. Although the occasional dry hump does happen from time to time. The largest is pushing an easy 12" and the other 10" ( old pics) .
bothmales.jpg
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and again these 3 male REDFOOTS/CHERRY ..... NO PROBLEMS .
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I too have friends who have multi males together and very rarely any serious troubles, nothing like 80 pound sulcuttas going at it ! It must be the Cali Sunshine! .....:D

JD~
 

allegraf

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You need to come and borrow a male or two to spread the aggression! Those two hate each other now, Pindo is a punk horny teenager and Moe is the old man going through a mid life crisis. Poor things. I know you are on top of the boys and always make sure they won't hurt each other, but I loved the drama though.
 

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Very interesting Carl. I know nothing about tortoises, but years ago I had to re-home an Eastern Boxie for that very same reason. Wonder what's going to happen with Pio and Solo.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Carl:

What if you were to introduce them in neutral territory...a place where neither of them is king.
 

cdmay

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N2TORTS: Nice looking males. Most keepers have the same experience you do with cherryheads...some minor scuffles but that's it. Oddly, from what I remember with my Colombian and Surinam/Guyana males there was never any aggression of any kind.
I know of another keeper with large numbers of male cherryheads together and he only gets occasional scraps. But that is still unusual when compared to northern males who never seem to fight.

Allegra: I could take you up on the borrowing of the males for aggression dispersal. But since I have the room I'll just continue to house the boys separately.
Of course, I WILL borrow a male or two for breeding!

TerryO: I have heard of male box turtles running amok before as well. That doesn't seem too odd really and wild male gulf coast box turtles almost always have chewed up front edges to their carapaces from fighting each other during the spring.

Emysemys: Good idea but then this younger male grew up in the company of the older male with no problems--the older male simply ignored him. But as the little one became mature he gradually became more aggressive towards the already dominant male. As Allegra said, he became a punk.
 

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Obviously I have nowhere near the experience Carl does, but I've read several interesting reports about this sort of thing. I don't think there are a lot of hard-and-fast rules for when they will and will not fight, but there seem to be a few trends that pop up...

1. Usually torts from Brazil, although I think I have read this for Gran Chacos as well.
2. Usually they get kept outside most of the time. Good UV may have a role in this- it increases aggression in many other species as well.
3. There seems to be a relation to habitat size. Small space- no fighting. Large space- fighting. Really large space- no fighting. Again, we see this in other species. If two territorial animals are forced to share a common range, they often find ways to live and let live. Offer them enough room to have completely independent, equally desirable ranges- no competition. Overlap ranges, or have one range better than another- fighting.
4. Correlation to other natural behaviors. There are some things we see in very large, very naturalistic habitats that we generally don't see in many collections. Naturalistic behaviors include things like eating fruit rind, seeds vs. skipping the rind and seeds; 'dug in' hiding/sleeping vs. 'box' sleeping; basking, soaking, swimming, and more vs. not doing that sort of thing. Many keeper reports seem to suggest that the more other naturalistic behaviors they see, the more likely their torts are to fight.
 

cdmay

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Madkins007 said:
1. Usually torts from Brazil, although I think I have read this for Gran Chacos as well.
2. Usually they get kept outside most of the time. Good UV may have a role in this- it increases aggression in many other species as well.
3. There seems to be a relation to habitat size. Small space- no fighting. Large space- fighting. Really large space- no fighting. Again, we see this in other species. If two territorial animals are forced to share a common range, they often find ways to live and let live. Offer them enough room to have completely independent, equally desirable ranges- no competition. Overlap ranges, or have one range better than another- fighting.
4. Correlation to other natural behaviors. There are some things we see in very large, very naturalistic habitats that we generally don't see in many collections. Naturalistic behaviors include things like eating fruit rind, seeds vs. skipping the rind and seeds; 'dug in' hiding/sleeping vs. 'box' sleeping; basking, soaking, swimming, and more vs. not doing that sort of thing. Many keeper reports seem to suggest that the more other naturalistic behaviors they see, the more likely their torts are to fight.

Good points Mark. I'm sure a lot of what is going on with my animals is related.
 

Madkins007

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Didn't you and TerryO make some observation about fighting and available space with Box Turtles a while back somewhere?
 

cdmay

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Madkins007 said:
Didn't you and TerryO make some observation about fighting and available space with Box Turtles a while back somewhere?

Maybe TerryO did. She has way more experience with Terrapene than I do.
 

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A while back I had a nice group of Eastern's, consisting of two males and 7 females. Most were rescues and introduced as juvies, but as the males reached sexual maturity one became very aggressive. They had the run of my yard that was 45 x 100. He would actually search out the other male and go at him. I separated them by making a pen for "nasty boy", as we called him. He spent all his days trying to get to the other side. Eventually I had to re-home him.
My old Ornate is very food aggressive. She is fine until the food comes out. I always have to separate her and make her eat alone. She's very funny to watch. When I put the food out she will chase any one who comes near the food, even if she sees them coming toward the dish she chases them away. Sometimes she lays across the whole food dish and eats that way. I've found, with Box Turtles anyway, that once one becomes aggressive, weather it be with food or with another male, there's not much you can do to change them......I don't think they're like dogs that can be trained. It's just their individual personality.
 

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Carl, the next time you put Moe and Pindo together it might be a good idea to invest in a couple of little tortoise muzzles first. :D :p How many inches is Moe?
 

cdmay

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Candy said:
Carl, the next time you put Moe and Pindo together it might be a good idea to invest in a couple of little tortoise muzzles first. :D :p How many inches is Moe?

Good idea.
Moe is 9.5 inches and Pindo is 8.5
 

Candy

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I just measured Dale and he is now just shy of 8 inches. I weighed Dale today and he is now 3 lbs. 5 oz., are your two a lot heavier then Dale?
 

cdmay

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Candy said:
I just measured Dale and he is now just shy of 8 inches. I weighed Dale today and he is now 3 lbs. 5 oz., are your two a lot heavier then Dale?

I don't know as I don't have a scale to accurately weigh things that small. But I would say that their weights are comparable.
Oddly, even though my one male is larger than the other, that doesn't seem to be a factor in the regards to their aggression towards each other. But then I'm sure if one male was a great deal bigger it would.
 

Geochelone_Carbonaria

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Is it possible to upload any video sequence on this site ?

I would like to show you a fight between two of my males, one of age 35 and one of age 15, that took place this afternoon in the new outdoor enclosure. And just a minute after the fight was started, my smallest male of age five, threw himself right into the fight. It ended up with the 35 year old male was turned over twice, and both of the other ones was biting his legs while he was on his back. I had to interfear and stop the fight that lasted for over ten minutes.

I didn't like this at all, since they have been getting along very well together up til today so far...
 
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