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Our male Gopherus Agassizzi tries to mate with our shoes!

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

  1. William Lee Kohler

    William Lee Kohler Active Member

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    What a HANDSOME tortoise you have there and such a wonderful perfect shell:<3:. It seems to me a simple answer to a simple question: Get one or two mates for him:<3::tort:.
  2. TanksMom

    TanksMom New Member

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    Once our boy comes out from hibernating I will update on his behavior and any changes. Tom, that was a lot to absorb, thanks for sharing insights/knowledge.

    Pam
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  3. Ciri

    Ciri Active Member

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    I have had this issue with male box turtles. They are not particular about the type of shoe or slipper, and lack of success in mating with my shoe has not been a deterrent. But thankfully they are small so easier to deal with. Although one I had used to bite my shoe, and when that didn't work he would climb up on the shoe and try to bite my ankle. So I did have to watch out for him! I have noticed that a couple of my male box turtles that I adopted were not well fed. They ate a lot for the first year or two, and were pretty laid-back. Once they were well-nourished, this behavior showed up.

    It sounds like when you moved into the new house he started getting better nutrition and hydration, and so became healthier his aggressive behavior surfaced. I'm sure it's challenging for them to live in captivity. What do they have to do all day? If they were in the wild, they would be hunting for food and doing the normal activities. They likely would not be as well fed. They probably get bored. It's not always easy to have an "easy life!" Like a teenager with time on his hands and nothing to do, why not make a little trouble and see what you can get away with? They are pretty smart creatures.
  4. DDickie

    DDickie New Member

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    I obtained a plastic colander & cut the handle off to make my 50+ year-old spur-thighed tortoise a “girlfriend” so that he didn’t damage his shell when bashing it before trying to mate!

    P.S. He likes to bite my mother’s leather shoes but ignores mine (maybe it’s a ferromone thing!)
    vladimir and Ciri like this.
  5. William Lee Kohler

    William Lee Kohler Active Member

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    Get him a couple of females for playmates. Your shoes will thank you.:D.
  6. tglazie

    tglazie Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    This is an absolutely fascinating conversation, and I'm so sorry I missed it back in March. What interests me specifically is the nature of shelter for tortoises and how incredibly important it is to get shelter right and how incredibly short we've fallen over the years in getting shelter right for our charges. You see, when I was younger and less experienced, I really didn't provide much in the way of shelter. My idea of shelter for young Greeks, marginateds, well, any tortoise, really, was to stack four bricks and place a thin board over the top of them, buttress the bricks up against a wall of the enclosure. Unsurprisingly, the tortoises would often choose a scrape under some vegetation over this lousy shelter. When I kept Jerry, my sulcata, God rest him, he eventually got so big that I didn't use a shelter, so he would force his way beneath our storage shed. Eventually I got him a doggloo. It wasn't great, but it was better than nothing, though he often disagreed with that whole "better than nothing" bit.

    Now, when I was younger, I was also much poorer than I am today. Today, I run a successful business, but back in those days, my father was a maintenance technician at a nonprofit organization, and I worked restaurant jobs. So I never really had much business owning tortoises, seeing as how I couldn't afford to build them the housing they truly needed. Despite this, I often dreamed of what I would do with more ample resources, how I would go about preventing incidences of flooding in deep burrow type shelters, how I would create shortcuts to those burrows in the form of pull away roofs and other such things. I drew diagrams. I was truly obsessed with it.

    As I got older, I discovered the versatility and the useful qualities of cinder blocks, and that's where I landed on my current design, a design I'm always considering for improvement. Basically, I form the walls of the shelter from cinder blocks, which I then fill with topsoil and leaf litter to serve as insulation. The roof is very similar to the roofs Tom and others use on their tortoise night boxes, styrofoam encased in wood, essentially, with some roofing shingles attached to further weatherproof the structure. I then staple a thick piece of clear plastic carpet runner in the size and shape of the entrance to ensure a degree of temperature stability within the shelter. Inside the shelter itself, I use five pieces of a board, any old scraps that are tall enough, to construct a small wooden box without a top. I place that box inside the shelter in a corner, and inside that box is just enough space for a reusable cool pack. Generally speaking, the temps within the shelter are in the upper seventies, low eighties. In the winter, of course, they're much colder, but I brumate all of my animals in a fridge indoors, so I don't have to deal with this. But during the dog days of summer, as we are experiencing now and, well, since late May, really, these cool packs really come in handy, and as the temps are in the upper seventies, low eighties, the tortoises spend their afternoons in the shelters, only emerging at dawn and dusk to graze, drink, and do other regular tortoise stuff. The only drag about this whole arrangement is having to replace a dozen cool packs every single day for four months out of the year. If someone has a better idea, I'd definitely be interested in hearing it, but as it stands, it seems to be working. Now, none of my tortoises choose to scrape under a bush instead of resting in the shelter. Every one of them sees the shelter as the best option. But yes, I've definitely come a long way from the four bricks and a board approach, but there must be something I'm not considering. Perhaps I should make chambers or a long hallway leading into an enlarged chamber at the end. But then I've often wondered if this would work for all tortoises, or if it would just be functional for the burrowing species. Hmmm. Always new ideas to consider. One awesome design I saw in practice at the New Orleans zoo was in their frog house, where they piped air from some underground cave or basement or some other such underground hollow. The air was cool but deliciously humid, like the air in Carlsbad Caverns or Natural Bridge. If I become as successful as my wildest dreams suggest I may, I will definitely try to find a Wayne manor type property, only instead of making a bat cave, it will be used as a means of regulating the temps in a tortoise house, something that abuts several enclosures and serves as a divided series of climate controlled, humid hiding spots. But I don't know, we all have wild thoughts.

    T.G.
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  7. LaLaP

    LaLaP Active Member

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    Really interesting and informative stuff! Thanks Tom. I have a question... why don't they dig those super deep burrows in backyard enclosures? Are the conditions in our backyards so different that they can't dig them? Is it the soil?
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  8. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Taking this back to the mating behaviour... my Greek, Joe, was a total pain in the... ankle... for years and it started much younger than 36. And yes, it is entirely normal behaviour.

    Strategies:

    1. Learn to garden standing up at all times, turning the sole of your foot toward the oncoming tortoise. With practice you can learn to do most garden tasks stood on one foot with only the toe of your other foot on the ground and the sole of that foot being repeatedly rammed.

    2. Don't wear flip flops... I actually found he was better when I had bare feet, but this isn't always practical. Or take a 3rd flip flop and abandon that somewhere for your tort to make mad passionate love to while you get on with your work.

    3. Other distractions I found effective were a bucket or a garden trug. Joe would often ram these in preference to me. As he also like ramming our wheelie bin, I think the noise may have had something to do with it.

    4. Have a fenced off area of your garden or yard that tort can go in while you are working. With the aid of a plank of wood and some house bricks, I could temporarily fence Joe onto an area of our patio if his behaviour was making cutting the lawn impossible (he really did hate our lawn mower!)

    The time to worry is if the testosterone leads to extreme behaviour. Joe reached a point where his obsession with sex got so bad that he stopped eating and drinking and made himself ill. He lost half his bodyweight and, for the first time in nearly 40 years with us, had to go to the vet. He repeatedly got infections of the liver and also a URI. In the end the vet had to give Joe a hormone implant, the type used by zoos when then they want to keep groups of males of any species together, which suppressed his urges. He still rammed us and didn't lose his personality, but was more likely to be distracted by a good dandelion en route to investigating us. The whole saga is documented on TFO somewhere.
  9. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    5. Put them in their night box and shut the door.
    6. Put them somewhere else, like in another enclosure.

    This is what I have to do with my male SA leopards when I need to work in their enclosures. They are relentless.
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  10. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I wish I knew the answer to this question. In some cases, there is nothing stopping them from going deeper and longer. They just don't.
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  11. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I have a whole bunch of those drawings too, T.G. I think I even posted some on the forum years ago.
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