1. Welcome! Are you interested in tortoises? If so, we invite you to join our community! Our community is the #1 place for tortoise keepers to talk online. Once you join you'll be able to post messages, upload pictures of your tortoise and enclosure, and discuss any tortoise topic with other tortoise keepers. Get started today!

Our male Gopherus Agassizzi tries to mate with our shoes!

Discussion in 'North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus)' started by TanksMom, Mar 3, 2018.

  1. TanksMom

    TanksMom New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    Sacramento Valley
    Hi,
    Our Tank is approximately 40 years old. At approximately 36 years of age he started some odd behavior which we were advised is mating behavior. We don’t have any other tortoises. He was and still is attracted by our shoes; specifically athletic shoes with black rubber on the outside of the toe box! He ignores bare feet, flip flops, slippers, or non athletic type shoes. (He is currently in hibernation).
    In the beginning it was “amusing”; more often now it is alarming and/or annoying. Is there any way to dissuade this behavior or is there a time frame?

    Thanks!
  2. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    42,448
    Likes Received:
    20,433
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Southern California
    (These ads do not appear for registered members.)
    Pretty normal behavior for an adult male. Not much to do about it except move your foot out of the way.
    JoesMum likes this.
  3. TanksMom

    TanksMom New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    Sacramento Valley
    Oh, we do.....problem is he chases us and on one occasion my husband was on his knees bent over in shorts (weeding or some gardening task) and some “vital” parts were almost at risk!! Most times we have to barricade Tank in an area where he can’t get to us. We have even sacrificed an old shoe to be his “girlfriend”; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I was just wondering if it happens to others and if it is going to now be a lifetime occurrence or will he eventually lose that drive.
    In any case our boy is loved and well cared for no matter what.
    Kendra North and Farcryjj like this.
  4. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Messages:
    35,980
    Likes Received:
    12,186
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Chicago, Illinois, USA
    Don't wear those type shoes around him.
    You could also try giving him one of those shoes. Maybe once he figures out it's not a female he'll get over it.
  5. TanksMom

    TanksMom New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    Sacramento Valley
    Wellington,

    We try not to have those shoes on but there isn’t always an opportunity to change shoes before entering his (very large, fenced in) part of the yard which also happens to be our garden area (raised beds so he can’t get in). We have given him one of “those” shoes as well as a very attractive thick indestructible mini tire to “mate” with. It just seems that he has become enamored (more) with my hubby or he sees him as a rival for me. LOL
    wellington likes this.
  6. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Messages:
    35,980
    Likes Received:
    12,186
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Chicago, Illinois, USA
    Maybe it's the moving of it that he likes them better when on a foot.
  7. orv

    orv Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2014
    Messages:
    339
    Likes Received:
    517
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location (City and/or State):
    Aguanga, CA
    Not all mating behavior is for the purpose of procreation. This is also male aggression. . . as in "who's the boss". This may be Tank's way of "protecting" both you and his territory. Clearly, your husband poses a threat. Now . . . do you feel loved?
  8. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    42,448
    Likes Received:
    20,433
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Southern California
    All of my South African Leopard males are this way. They charge after me the moment I enter their "domain". I've seen a couple of sulcatas like this. I've seen many greeks, russians and CDTs that do this.
  9. TanksMom

    TanksMom New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    Sacramento Valley
    Yes I do! ❤️❤️❤️ I’m just wondering why now? Hubby’s had him since he was about 5 yrs old. I became his second “mom” in 2004 and he didn’t start this behavior until 2014.....Late bloomer , I guess?
  10. Grandpa Turtle 144

    Grandpa Turtle 144 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2013
    Messages:
    10,292
    Likes Received:
    7,611
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Please when you get a pair of baby shoes , I’ll take a pair !
    CarolM and Farcryjj like this.
  11. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    42,448
    Likes Received:
    20,433
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Southern California
    I'll share one possible explanation based on my experience with this species over the last four decades:

    Based on most of the advice that has been given in the past and is currently given now, most people don't care for this species correctly. Same story for most species, unfortunately. The thinking is that this is a desert animal and it needs dry, desiccating, hot conditions. Since we live in this species natural range, or close to it, it is incorrectly assumed that they can just live in our yards in little pens we make for them, and that all will be good. Tortoises in general are tough animals and they can survive less than optimal conditions for a long time. Some years they get lucky and outdoor backyard conditions are better than others. As they slowly gain size over the years, their body mass also helps them get through less than optimal conditions. Most people don't keep them hydrated enough, don't feed them the right foods, and house them above ground in conditions that expose them to the wild temperature swings common to SoCal from day to night and season to season. In the wild they would live 10-30 feet underground and be protected from these temp swings. In our backyards either above ground, or in a 3 foot deep burrow, or in a man-made shelter, they get too hot in summer, and too cold and too warm in winter. What do I mean too warm in winter? Most people allow this species to hibernate outside in the yard. If the tortoise were in a 60 foot burrow that was 10-12 feet deep, dug into the correct side of a sloping landscape and protected from the rain and elements, this would probably be okay. If anyone has a burrow like this in their yard, I've never seen it. When kept in the typical sallow burrow or doghouse type set up, the tortoise gets too cold on a freezing winter night, and too hot when its 96 degrees on Thanksgiving and 80-85 all winter long. Then when the inevitable cold spell comes, like it finally has here, all those warm tortoises that should have been deep underground hibernating, get caught in the cold spell with food in their gut.

    The inconsistent above ground temps, in conjunction with housing that doesn't protect them from temperature extremes, coupled with the typical dehydration and grocery store food, makes survival a difficult prospect for most captive DTs. Many of them are able to survive, but just barely. These barely surviving animals usually don't show the full range of behavior and personality that is typical of the species. I can't tell you how many tame green iguanas I was given to rehab, and as soon as I get their temps right, UV levels up and correct foods going into them, they turn into aggressive monsters. Same sort of thing.

    It could be that temps, shelter, diet or hydration have improved somehow over the last few years and the tortoise is now "feeling froggy", where in the past he was just plodding along barely surviving year to year. Maybe you guys read something or started doing something a little different since you joined this forum and started reading all about good tortoise care? Is it a coincidence that this new behavior started around the same time you joined the forum?
  12. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    74,910
    Likes Received:
    37,217
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Clovis, CA
    I would like to see a picture of Tank. This really isn't normal behaviour for a male desert tortoise. They are normally quite benign and friendly. Rather than mating behaviour, I would have to agree with Orv that the tortoise is trying to chase another "tortoise" out of his territory.
  13. TanksMom

    TanksMom New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    Sacramento Valley
  14. TanksMom

    TanksMom New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    Sacramento Valley

    Hi Tom,

    Tank (whose actual name is Turdy, but he moves like an armored tank LOL), has a HUGE area in which to roam with Bermuda grass and grape leaves to munch on as he sees fit (as well as other varieties of healthy natural foods that I forage for him). We also make sure he is well hydrated. His more cognizant and beneficial care started long before I found this forum. (once I became his primary caregiver/Mom in 2004 I did huge amounts of research). Prior to that he was more or less on his own but was not just “eeking by”. He has always been a spirited guy; just not testosterone driven as he has been in recent years. During the summer he has many many shady spaces for the days when our Sacramento valley temps can be extremely hot. We also ensure his safety from predators.
    Having typed this, I went back and re-read your post and something did dawn on me. We moved to this house in 2012. Our previous yard may not have had as many “luxuries” or necessities available to our boy. Soooooo, maybe your thoughts about him really tapping into his ultimate “tortoiseness” could be spot on.
    Thank you for such a detailed reply!

    PS: I did originally contact a local “Tortoise lady” when he started doing this and she said she had a sulcata who had a preference for white athletic shoes!

    Pam
    Dallas And Kathy and TammyJ like this.
  15. TanksMom

    TanksMom New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    Sacramento Valley
    Hi Yvonne,

    As a rule our boy is benign and friendly and prior to 2014 he was never “ Mr. Macho”. When I contacted our local tortoise lady (who has multiple varieties she cares for and has for over 50 years) she wasn’t surprised and said that he had evidently “just discovered girls”. I’m thinking that Tom hit on something with respect to the change in environment and (not so much care as he has always been cared for) extra food sources etc., and he is able to be “all that he can be” now.

    PS: That’s Tank in my profile picture. (Not sure how to add more pictures)

    Pam
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  16. TanksMom

    TanksMom New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    Sacramento Valley
    62FFC516-4BB3-49B7-B677-ECD766695553.jpeg 1CAE168C-A49F-4F20-BE48-7ADDC5206E51.jpeg View attachment 232106
    Melis likes this.
  17. orv

    orv Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2014
    Messages:
    339
    Likes Received:
    517
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location (City and/or State):
    Aguanga, CA
    I would also like to add that our 34 year old male DT will frequently in come over to where I am working when I enter our tortoise's yard. He just has to see what's going on. No physical contact, just a careful look. We tend to enjoy interacting with our tortoises on a visual level, without challenging their territory unless there is some reason, such as a little gardening. They live in a space that resembles their natural habitat here in Southern California. They each interact with us for food . . . hummm, even the females. Over the last several years, we've attempted to make their habitat a bit more challenging by not only planting food for them, but by also placing their food from we "food gods" in various places around their yard to keep them more engaged with their "world". I really don't know if this is truly beneficial, but it surely won't hurt. Previously, their food went into a single ceramic dish along side their water. Some of their diet still goes into that ceramic dish, but more and more, we try to make them exercise a bit for it. About half their diet now grows as flowers in their yard. Planted in their yard are roses, hibiscus, dandelion, gazania, mustard, cilantro, various wild grasses, along with cacti and succulents. When too little of these are in season, spring mix along with a few other store bought healthy greens are made available. Oh, the occasional strawberry is offered as a treat. For this last, I'm sure that Tom will excoriate me, but what can you expect front an old man who has to have his nightly bowl of Spumoni ice cream ( ah, that's me, not Tom). I'll be interested in how other desert dwellers approach feeding.
    Old Mojave and TammyJ like this.
  18. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Messages:
    7,582
    Likes Received:
    2,977
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Southern Oregon
    Hahaha, I can totally relate!

    My leopard tortoise's target.... pink crocs!

    I wear them every time I'm in the yard, they are my garden shoes. And boy does he come after me.

    He's started to go after other people's feet and a variety of
    footwear in the last year or so. But nothing gets his attention like those crocs!

    Good luck :cool: :tort: stay safe! LOL
    TammyJ likes this.
  19. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    42,448
    Likes Received:
    20,433
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Southern California
    You are proving my point Pam.

    The following is tortoise conversation, that if we were face to face would have a friendly, pleasant and engaging tone. I don't want to come across as condescending or lecturing. This is all intended to be helpful and informative, and just conversation amongst friends.

    I've had this conversation the we are having many times. I explain what I explained in my previous post, and people usually reply in a way similar to how you've replied. It demonstrates that the majority of my point was missed, so I want to try to go a little further, but still in a friendly and non-argumentative way. Two main points:
    1. You mentioned all the "research" you did when you became a tortoise mom. That is admirable, commendable and as it should be for anyone who is a responsible and conscientious animal caretaker. Here is the problem: Most of what is written on care for this species is wrong. Its been wrong for decades, and how this species has typically been cared for has been wrong for decades. Same story for most tortoise species, but especially so for this species. I think this is due to the fact that they are geographically restricted due to federal law and they exist in such a small portion of the world and in the hands of relatively few keepers. We recently had a new member get upset (Understandably so…) when a moderator told a young member that he would be better off NOT doing random internet "research" and get his info here on this site instead. We had to explain that its not because we are "better" than other people, it is because most sources of info out there, vets, breeders, tortoise "experts" books, websites, etc… are all saying roughly the same thing, and its the same wrong stuff that has been parroted for decades. No doubt, that is the info you found when you did research. This is a common problem and I can understand the dilemma that somebody who is new to tortoises can face. They find 10 sources that say the same thing, verify the same thing with their vet, ask a local tortoise expert and get the same story, and then… they come here and we tell them that all of that is all wrong and they need to do the opposite of what all those other sources told them to do. In most cases in any other subject of interest, I wouldn't buy that. I can understand the skepticism. I can understand their reluctance to accept what they are being told. All I can say is that I have the facts, pictures and evidence to prove what I am saying is right, and if you look at how many die doing it "their" way vs. all of them surviving and thriving "my" way, well… the choice is clear for people who come in with an open mind. Some percentage of people get angry about it and call me names. Most people say "thank you". Some people are understandably skeptical at first and then come back months of years later with thanks and praise.
    2. You mentioned the many shady areas that he has to retreat to in your hot summers. Let me ask you, when the daily high is 105, what is the temp in the shade in your your yard? Its a loaded question. I already know the answer. The answer is 105. That is too hot! Being exposed to temps that high is bad for them. They can survive it, but its not good for them. You may be thinking: "How can you say that Tom? They come from the mojave desert where temps are over 105 almost every day in summer." But where are the tortoises when the temp is 105+ in the desert. They are not above ground in the shade. They are deep underground in their protective burrows. Know what the temperature is down there? US Geological surveys tell us that ground temps in that area, at those depths is around 79-81 in summer. In winter, ground temp down there is a steady 50. Doesn't matter how hot or how cold it gets on the surface. Ground temps are steady and mild. As I said, this species is hardy, and they can usually survive these hot and cold temperature extremes above ground in our yards, but it is not good for them. It takes a toll, even though they keep living and plodding along.

    I think we agree that something in the new living area is allowing your tortoise to get closer to optimal, and you are starting to see more of the full range of personality and behavior.

    I've seen this phenomenon demonstrated many times with many individual tortoises, both my own and other people's. I built my first outdoor sulcata shelter based on advice I found on the internet and in books. These shelters kept them alive, but my tortoises just sort of coasted through the winters surviving. They didn't die or get sick, but they ate a lot less and they were not very active. Sulcatas don't hibernate, and they don't have a "winter" with colder temps over there in the tropics. I made a new house and kept their winter temps warmer, more closely simulating the wild conditions they would experience, and the difference in their behavior, activity, and appetite was night and day. They were now thriving and growing in winter, instead of just getting by long enough to survive until better weather returns. The same sort of things happen to DTs when they are housed in such a way the temperature extremes are lessened. Burrows in summer and heated shelters for cold nights in spring and fall, coupled with steady cold temps for the hibernation months, instead of the vast fluctuations that occur above ground where we spend our days.

    I hope this sheds a little more light on what I was trying to say.
  20. Nancy Coffelt

    Nancy Coffelt New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2017
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    3



    Hello Tom,
    I have learned more from what you say than i have from other sources. It all makes prefect since. I do thank you you for sharing all your knowledge. Again
    Than you, Nancy
    Tom and TechnoCheese like this.
Similar Threads: male Gopherus
Forum Title Date
North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus) Male or female with pics. May 15, 2018
North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus) What to expect with a male desert tortoise Apr 27, 2017
North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus) Female/Male? Nov 17, 2014
North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus) Herkimer, 85 year old male CDT, Sacramento Zoo Apr 9, 2014
North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus) Our male desert tortoise is showing female behavior??? Feb 11, 2014

Share This Page