Still wondering if anybody has any EVIDENCE that Aldabras are solitary animals

Tom

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To anyone reading, @dd33 is a personal friend of mine, very knowledgeable about tortoises and tortoise care, and a good person. I've talked to him in private about this thread. I wanted full disclosure before making my points here.

@dd33 is basing his opinions stated here on his group of 3 aldabras. He's never kept them in a pair, and prior to these three young juveniles, whose growth has been graciously shared here on the forum, he has not kept this species.

I will agree that Aldabra are less combative than most other species, but we are not talking about combat. We are talking about the more subtle behaviors that are often not noticed by most people. The exact observations that @Maggie3fan shared above of her sister's pair of aldabras, which I also had the privilege and pleasure of meeting and visiting with a few times over the years. I noted the same things Maggie observed, and I have noted those same things with many other pairs with many other tortoise keepers. While I have not made this particular mistake with Aldabras, I have, in the past, made it with other species. dd33 is keeping a group, not a pair, and his group lives in a giant pen, on grass, in an idyllic environment for the species. Of course his animals get along and don't exhibit the problems we are talking about. He sets an example of how to do it all correctly, and avoid these very problems that occur with paired animals, in small enclosure, fed a poor diet, and kept in a not so great climate for them.

I also whole-heartedly agree with @Markw84 and his observations of group dynamics with both of the island giant species. I think these group dynamics also apply to hermanni, red foots, yellow foots, pancakes, greeks, and both star species. For years I've been raising all the species I keep in groups, and the behavior is certainly different than singles.

My main point here is that just because these animals seem to live communally and spend time near each other in the wild, for one reason or another, this does not translate to them doing well in PAIRS in captivity. Groups are not the problem. Interaction with their own species in groups is usually not a problem until you start getting into multiple adult males with some species. PAIRS are a problem, and as seen with Maggie's brilliantly explained example, and countless other examples I have personally seen, Aldabras are NOT an exception.
 

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To anyone reading, @dd33 is a personal friend of mine, very knowledgeable about tortoises and tortoise care, and a good person. I've talked to him in private about this thread. I wanted full disclosure before making my points here.

@dd33 is basing his opinions stated here on his group of 3 aldabras. He's never kept them in a pair, and prior to these three young juveniles, whose growth has been graciously shared here on the forum, he has not kept this species.

I will agree that Aldabra are less combative than most other species, but we are not talking about combat. We are talking about the more subtle behaviors that are often not noticed by most people. The exact observations that @Maggie3fan shared above of her sister's pair of aldabras, which I also had the privilege and pleasure of meeting and visiting with a few times over the years. I noted the same things Maggie observed, and I have noted those same things with many other pairs with many other tortoise keepers. While I have not made this particular mistake with Aldabras, I have, in the past, made it with other species. dd33 is keeping a group, not a pair, and his group lives in a giant pen, on grass, in an idyllic environment for the species. Of course his animals get along and don't exhibit the problems we are talking about. He sets an example of how to do it all correctly, and avoid these very problems that occur with paired animals, in small enclosure, fed a poor diet, and kept in a not so great climate for them.

I also whole-heartedly agree with @Markw84 and his observations of group dynamics with both of the island giant species. I think these group dynamics also apply to hermanni, red foots, yellow foots, pancakes, greeks, and both star species. For years I've been raising all the species I keep in groups, and the behavior is certainly different than singles.

My main point here is that just because these animals seem to live communally and spend time near each other in the wild, for one reason or another, this does not translate to them doing well in PAIRS in captivity. Groups are not the problem. Interaction with their own species in groups is usually not a problem until you start getting into multiple adult males with some species. PAIRS are a problem, and as seen with Maggie's brilliantly explained example, and countless other examples I have personally seen, Aldabras are NOT an exception.
Well Said
 

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Tom, it seems like you are suggesting that poor husbandry, particularly space and diet are a large part of the reason you shouldn't keep pairs of Aldabras together. I'd be happy to make my theory of them doing well in pairs contingent on providing them with acres of space and year round grazing abilities. I don't see how anyone could keep them another way, but you are right, people do.

Were @Yvonne G 's tortoises ever sexed?
 

Tom

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Tom, it seems like you are suggesting that poor husbandry, particularly space and diet are a large part of the reason you shouldn't keep pairs of Aldabras together. I'd be happy to make my theory of them doing well in pairs contingent on providing them with acres of space and year round grazing abilities. I don't see how anyone could keep them another way, but you are right, people do.

Were @Yvonne G 's tortoises ever sexed?
Its more that when done right, as you do it, people aren't going to see the problems we are trying to warn the OP about. Remove one member of the trio and then confine them in a smaller area, and these behavioral issues that we are talking about become more and more obvious. No one, including you, should be surprised that your tortoises all get along peacefully and you don't have behavioral issues, but why are you speculating and proclaiming that your results based on how you are doing it would extend to other people doing it very differently than you are.

What I don't understand is why you wish to dispute the claims of the people who have seen these behavioral issues first hand, claiming that you think its fine to house them in pairs, when you have no experience doing so, and your trio is housed in ideal conditions for the species with plenty of space. Its like arguing about the benefits of closed chambers with someone that has never tried a closed chamber and has no idea what the effects are or aren't. You've never housed them in a pair, you've never housed them in a small pen, and your tortoises are not cramped into a small heated night house most nights in your climate. And you've only ever had three of them.

You sharing your experience with your trio with the group here is wonderful. I love seeing your updates and pictures. You proclaiming pairs are fine when many of us have seen direct evidence to the contrary, and your opinion is based on a few years of experience with your three animals that are housed and cared for ideally in an ideal climate is puzzling. My opinion on this matter is based on first hand experience. You've never done the pair thing, or the small night house thing in a colder climate, or the small pen thing with them, so I don't understand what your opinion is based on here. Feelings? Yes, large groups of them park under the same shade tree in the heat of the day in the wild. What does that have to do with keeping them in a pair confined in a small backyard with a heated night house? Two very different circumstances.
 

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Hi group, it is interesting to read this thread. We work with breeders and people that keep Aldabra tortoises as pets in Seychelles. We see tortoises kept in groups, pairs, and on their own. The discussion about being kept in pairs is intriguing as it's something we have also observed, especially if they are adult males in a small enclosure, they are more likely to show 'violent behaviour'. However, adverse behvaiour or health issues have not been observed with juvenile Aldabras when kept together even in pairs regardless of enclsoure size. It should be noted, all enclosures here are outside (junveiles are often kept in 'chicken coops's to avoid predation from rats) but don’t always have the best conditions. In pairs, we have seen large male tortoises barging each other out of the way to access food/water, but that's about as 'violent' as they get. When we see super high herd densities in small areas, we observe males displaying 'mating' tendencies with other males and smaller female tortoises showing carapace injuries from repeated mating attempts by large males. In a nut(tortoise)shell, tortoises kept in high densities seems to be a crucial vairable in producing adverse behaviour/growth/health.

From what we can tell, in captivity, they do very well in mixed groups (more than 4) with lots of space, places to retreat away from the group for rest/hiding, and a water/mud pool. We often see tortoise wallowing together in pools and chilling in the shade, sometimes trying stand on each other to escape their confines. We also noticed when tortoises have been kept on their own for a long time are moved to a herd with lots of space to roam, their behaviour almost immediatly becomes more natural and more acitve, which may indicate they prefer the company of others.

*note; we are not Aldabra husbandry experts, we are here to learn and provide insight from the wild population and the Seychelles experience.
 

Tom

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Hi group, it is interesting to read this thread. We work with breeders and people that keep Aldabra tortoises as pets in Seychelles. We see tortoises kept in groups, pairs, and on their own. The discussion about being kept in pairs is intriguing as it's something we have also observed, especially if they are adult males in a small enclosure, they are more likely to show 'violent behaviour'. However, adverse behvaiour or health issues have not been observed with juvenile Aldabras when kept together even in pairs regardless of enclsoure size. It should be noted, all enclosures here are outside (junveiles are often kept in 'chicken coops's to avoid predation from rats) but don’t always have the best conditions. In pairs, we have seen large male tortoises barging each other out of the way to access food/water, but that's about as 'violent' as they get. When we see super high herd densities in small areas, we observe males displaying 'mating' tendencies with other males and smaller female tortoises showing carapace injuries from repeated mating attempts by large males. In a nut(tortoise)shell, tortoises kept in high densities seems to be a crucial vairable in producing adverse behaviour/growth/health.

From what we can tell, in captivity, they do very well in mixed groups (more than 4) with lots of space, places to retreat away from the group for rest/hiding, and a water/mud pool. We often see tortoise wallowing together in pools and chilling in the shade, sometimes trying stand on each other to escape their confines. We also noticed when tortoises have been kept on their own for a long time are moved to a herd with lots of space to roam, their behaviour almost immediatly becomes more natural and more acitve, which may indicate they prefer the company of others.

*note; we are not Aldabra husbandry experts, we are here to learn and provide insight from the wild population and the Seychelles experience.
Thank you for sharing your experience and observations with us.
 

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I kept a pair of males from hatching to almost 200lbs. They NEVER showed aggression towards each other. They had a large yard and an appx 10' square shed for night time
 

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I kept a pair of males from hatching to almost 200lbs. They NEVER showed aggression towards each other. They had a large yard and an appx 10' square shed for night time
I have VERY fond memories of these two. I as well can not remember a time that any signs of aggression, intimidation or any comfortableness by either one of them. Honestly they (to me) seemed like a happy married couple.
 

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I kept a pair of males from hatching to almost 200lbs. They NEVER showed aggression towards each other. They had a large yard and an appx 10' square shed for night time
I wonder if this was because there were no females around? Or maybe they weren't of maturity age yet and their hormones hadn't kicked in?
I remember seeing a few pics of a couple of Greg's male Aldabras having it out some. Don't know how bad it ever got if at all or if he had to step in at all.
I do think the Aldabras are a friendlier species, not minding another around as much as others would. However, don't know if it's the best way to keep them once maturity does kick in or if there was a female. 🤔 Hmmm. Wish @ALDABRAMAN would share his insight here.
 

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I wonder if this was because there were no females around? Or maybe they weren't of maturity age yet and their hormones hadn't kicked in?
I remember seeing a few pics of a couple of Greg's male Aldabras having it out some. Don't know how bad it ever got if at all or if he had to step in at all.
I do think the Aldabras are a friendlier species, not minding another around as much as others would. However, don't know if it's the best way to keep them once maturity does kick in or if there was a female. 🤔 Hmmm. Wish @ALDABRAMAN would share his insight here.
I wonder if "friendly" corresponds to more intelligent and less prone to behaving instinctually?
 

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I wonder if "friendly" corresponds to more intelligent and less prone to behaving instinctually?
Aldabras do not seem very smart at all. At least compared to Galapagos tortoises.

@Yvonne G do you know where your two males are today? Have they gone on to reproduce?
 

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Aldabras do not seem very smart at all. At least compared to Galapagos tortoises.

@Yvonne G do you know where your two males are today? Have they gone on to reproduce?
Really? Why is that? What's the difference you see that makes you think that? Interesting. I don't like the Galapagos look as much as I like the Aldabras. Galapagos always has goopy eyes and meaner look. Besides actually being a bit meaner than the Aldabras. I'd love to know though what seems to make them smarter.
 

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Really? Why is that? What's the difference you see that makes you think that? Interesting. I don't like the Galapagos look as much as I like the Aldabras. Galapagos always has goopy eyes and meaner look. Besides actually being a bit meaner than the Aldabras. I'd love to know though what seems to make them smarter.


The Galapagos seem to be capable of learning things pretty quickly. Basic things like locations of water bowls and good sources of food. But some more complex things like adapting to a relocated night house or waiting by a gate when they see you, hoping to be let out. When you observe a Galapagos tortoise its easy to get the impression that there is some level of thought going on.

Aldabras on the other hand seem purely instinctual and reactionary. If there is something in the way, charge over or through it, but don't ever try to back up. I have only been surprised by one thing they have obviously learned from us. They know that the sight or sound of the lawnmower means they are about to get some grass clippings to eat. Other than that there just doesn't seem to be a whole lot of thought going on in their heads.

This is purely unscientific. . . The Aldabra's are just kind of there but the Galapagos can be very engaging pets that watch what you are doing and relish attention. Maybe our Aldabras are weird but I have heard this same idea from another person who keeps both species.
 

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The Galapagos seem to be capable of learning things pretty quickly. Basic things like locations of water bowls and good sources of food. But some more complex things like adapting to a relocated night house or waiting by a gate when they see you, hoping to be let out. When you observe a Galapagos tortoise its easy to get the impression that there is some level of thought going on.

Aldabras on the other hand seem purely instinctual and reactionary. If there is something in the way, charge over or through it, but don't ever try to back up. I have only been surprised by one thing they have obviously learned from us. They know that the sight or sound of the lawnmower means they are about to get some grass clippings to eat. Other than that there just doesn't seem to be a whole lot of thought going on in their heads.

This is purely unscientific. . . The Aldabra's are just kind of there but the Galapagos can be very engaging pets that watch what you are doing and relish attention. Maybe our Aldabras are weird but I have heard this same idea from another person who keeps both species.
That's funny, something in the way, go thru it. I can see that.
I wonder if it's cuz your Aldabras are young yet. Seems Aldabramans are very into wanting to be a part of the human space, his males anyway. I remember years ago, Greg saying something along the lines of the young Aldabras being very shy and females even more than males. But once they get older, the males become much more friendly and the females still remain standoffish.
Will be interesting to see how the differences change or remain as they mature.
 

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That's funny, something in the way, go thru it. I can see that.
I wonder if it's cuz your Aldabras are young yet. Seems Aldabramans are very into wanting to be a part of the human space, his males anyway. I remember years ago, Greg saying something along the lines of the young Aldabras being very shy and females even more than males. But once they get older, the males become much more friendly and the females still remain standoffish.
Will be interesting to see how the differences change or remain as they mature.
I am sure their age plays a role. I also suspect that we have three females and you are right about the males being more outgoing. I have spent a fair amount of time around another 30 year old pair of Aldabras that belong to another forum member here and I have to say, they are total duds like ours.
Judging by Aldabramans photos/videos and some other videos I have seen, it does look like plenty of people have friendly ones.
One thing that our group, and the older pair I have interacted with have in common is they are kept in huge pens and they don't need to interact with people for food. Our main interactions with them tend to be irritating like weighing them or forcing them into the house at night. I really don't think they like us. One of the three will approach me now but it hates being touched. The galapagos on the other hand still want food from us even though they have unlimited grass to eat or will chase you down, step on your foot and beg for scratches.
 

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I am sure their age plays a role. I also suspect that we have three females and you are right about the males being more outgoing. I have spent a fair amount of time around another 30 year old pair of Aldabras that belong to another forum member here and I have to say, they are total duds like ours.
Judging by Aldabramans photos/videos and some other videos I have seen, it does look like plenty of people have friendly ones.
One thing that our group, and the older pair I have interacted with have in common is they are kept in huge pens and they don't need to interact with people for food. Our main interactions with them tend to be irritating like weighing them or forcing them into the house at night. I really don't think they like us. One of the three will approach me now but it hates being touched. The galapagos on the other hand still want food from us even though they have unlimited grass to eat or will chase you down, step on your foot and beg for scratches.
Wow really. Of course we only get pics and some videos from Greg, we don't live with his tortoises like they do, but it seems they spend a lot of time with theirs. I know Greg is retired and I'm going to assume his partner/wife is too. Don't know if you are, and can spend that much time with them, but possibly the difference?
The Galapagos and Aldabras you have remind me of when I raised Chinese Shar-Pei. I always explained their personalities as not being like a golden retriever. They are not going to be your friend until they can trust you. A golden retriever will lick and befriend anyone lol. Your Galapagos is the Golden and the Aldabras the Chinese Shar-Pei.
 

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Wow really. Of course we only get pics and some videos from Greg, we don't live with his tortoises like they do, but it seems they spend a lot of time with theirs. I know Greg is retired and I'm going to assume his partner/wife is too. Don't know if you are, and can spend that much time with them, but possibly the difference?
The Galapagos and Aldabras you have remind me of when I raised Chinese Shar-Pei. I always explained their personalities as not being like a golden retriever. They are not going to be your friend until they can trust you. A golden retriever will lick and befriend anyone lol. Your Galapagos is the Golden and the Aldabras the Chinese Shar-Pei.
We work full time so we don't have a ton of time to spend with them but I would say that we have spent at least an hour a day each in the tortoise pastures for the last two years. Much less in the years prior though. We aren't actively trying to tame them, they seem happy enough keeping to themselves.
Their behavior changed for the better when they were mixed with the Galapagos. A tiny bit of the golden retriever has rubbed off on them. When the Galapagos are interested in us, the Aldabras are interested in what they are doing.
 

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Really? Why is that? What's the difference you see that makes you think that? Interesting. I don't like the Galapagos look as much as I like the Aldabras. Galapagos always has goopy eyes and meaner look. Besides actually being a bit meaner than the Aldabras. I'd love to know though what seems to make them smarter.
Night and day. I haven't noticed the goopy eye thing with Galapagos. Most of the aldabras I've been around were like giant Indian stars or female regularl leopards as far as personality goes. I've met the two the dd33 referred to and that big male was one of the most personable and outgoing that I've ever seen, but still nothing like a Galapagos. There is another compound that I have been to with several hundred of the giants of both species and you could stand in the several acre pens surrounded by them and easily pick out the Galapagos by their behavior before you could even see the pointy funny looking nose, or lack thereof.
 

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Night and day. I haven't noticed the goopy eye thing with Galapagos. Most of the aldabras I've been around were like giant Indian stars or female regularl leopards as far as personality goes. I've met the two the dd33 referred to and that big male was one of the most personable and outgoing that I've ever seen, but still nothing like a Galapagos. There is another compound that I have been to with several hundred of the giants of both species and you could stand in the several acre pens surrounded by them and easily pick out the Galapagos by their behavior before you could even see the pointy funny looking nose, or lack thereof.
I have only been around one Galapagos, squarer flat head and blunt square nose is what I would describe them having and always the goopy eyes, even most pictures they have it. The Aldabra has the pointier nose in my opinion rounder head and I have never seen goopy eyes.
One day I will have to visit the Galapagos at our Brookfield Zoo. Just to see how they behave. Probably no where near the same as one private owned I'm sure.
 

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Male Galapagos have foamier eyes than females and the amount of foam increases during the dry season. Some of the finches there drink it and they may have a preference for male tortoises because of it.
 

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