king_pappy

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Jan 27, 2022
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Michigan
Has anyone worked on training a tortoise, Curious to hear if anyone has had success here is my story of my journey training my Russian tortoise named Yoshi.

Yoshi is a 4 year rescue who loves to sleep in hoodie pockets, watch finding Nemo (he will not watch anything other then that), yoshi also love tomato’s, and a very smart personable tortoise.

I’ve been working on training him two hours a day for the past 6 months I currently use a target stick with a red foam ball on the end of it and a clicker. since I acquired him I have been teaching him that when he touches the red ball I will reward him with a treat. He now will chase after the ball and follow it until he is able to touch his nose to it. I will then click the clicker 2 times to show affirmation, and then reward him with a small piece of tomato.

That was his first trick i taught him.

The next one was a tad trickier I never knew when yoshi wanted to get out of his bath and would usually just wait until he started scratching the side of his bathtub. I placed a plastic red sequin about 1.5 lard and glued it to his bath I then waited until he hit with his nose and then pulled him out dryer him off and put him back under his enclosure with a treat. So know he will tell you when he’s ready to stop soaking.

I am currently working on teaching him and seems to be working flawlessly, while it takes a lot of time and patience and persistence. In the end it’s totally worth it.
 

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zolasmum

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5 Year Member
Joined
May 19, 2015
Messages
2,230
Has anyone worked on training a tortoise, Curious to hear if anyone has had success here is my story of my journey training my Russian tortoise named Yoshi.

Yoshi is a 4 year rescue who loves to sleep in hoodie pockets, watch finding Nemo (he will not watch anything other then that), yoshi also love tomato’s, and a very smart personable tortoise.

I’ve been working on training him two hours a day for the past 6 months I currently use a target stick with a red foam ball on the end of it and a clicker. since I acquired him I have been teaching him that when he touches the red ball I will reward him with a treat. He now will chase after the ball and follow it until he is able to touch his nose to it. I will then click the clicker 2 times to show affirmation, and then reward him with a small piece of tomato.

That was his first trick i taught him.

The next one was a tad trickier I never knew when yoshi wanted to get out of his bath and would usually just wait until he started scratching the side of his bathtub. I placed a plastic red sequin about 1.5 lard and glued it to his bath I then waited until he hit with his nose and then pulled him out dryer him off and put him back under his enclosure with a treat. So know he will tell you when he’s ready to stop soaking.

I am currently working on teaching him and seems to be working flawlessly, while it takes a lot of time and patience and persistence. In the end it’s totally worth it.
That's very interesting.I wonder if it would be possible to use another colour, however - Zola will go after anything red, any time - and I think most tortoises show a distinct preference for red coloured things - if you could train him to respond to blue,say, it would make his behaviour more striking
Have you tried other colours?
Angie
 

jeff kushner

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I read, most likely on this forum somewhere, that turtles can see over 4,000 variations of the color red. Angie is right......Her Zola goes after red b/c it's DNA'ed into her!

trying a new color is a good idea but maybe not necessary since the "cause and effect" is very clear to see. Your little guy appears to be intentionally making specific actions in order to cause other actions(by you) to happen. This would seem to indicate "planning".......very interesting.



I give you huge credit......I attempted "training" a different reptile for a year......I'm lucky to still have all 10!

I was not successful.....LOL
 

king_pappy

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Michigan
That's very interesting.I wonder if it would be possible to use another colour, however - Zola will go after anything red, any time - and I think most tortoises show a distinct preference for red coloured things - if you could train him to respond to blue,say, it would make his behaviour more striking
Have you tried other colours?
Angie
Hello Angie,
yes I've tried green, yellow, orange, light blue. but red is the one he responded to most.
 

zolasmum

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Hello Angie,
yes I've tried green, yellow, orange, light blue. but red is the one he responded to most.
I am very impressed - have you started any further training yet.? Are you keeping a record of his progress, and if possible an occasional video of what he's doing ? That might prove quite useful in time to come - and if nothing else, it will demonstrate his ability to people who don't expect it !
I once had to train a pigeon to peck at a specific shape to get a food reward - I wonder if you could do something like that - e g -a red circle and a blue square being shown him together, and if he touches the right one he gets the reward - then trying both shapes in red.Like a red ball and a red block, for instance, then on cards .
I must admit I haven't tried anything like this with Zola, but I find he manages to convey what he wants quite clearly by his movements - He is 21 now, and it's probably a bit late to start now with anything like you are doing. Anyway, I should very much like to know how you get on.
Best wishes
Angie
 

Thomas tortoise

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Jan 26, 2022
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661
Location (City and/or State)
Arkansas
Has anyone worked on training a tortoise, Curious to hear if anyone has had success here is my story of my journey training my Russian tortoise named Yoshi.

Yoshi is a 4 year rescue who loves to sleep in hoodie pockets, watch finding Nemo (he will not watch anything other then that), yoshi also love tomato’s, and a very smart personable tortoise.

I’ve been working on training him two hours a day for the past 6 months I currently use a target stick with a red foam ball on the end of it and a clicker. since I acquired him I have been teaching him that when he touches the red ball I will reward him with a treat. He now will chase after the ball and follow it until he is able to touch his nose to it. I will then click the clicker 2 times to show affirmation, and then reward him with a small piece of tomato.

That was his first trick i taught him.

The next one was a tad trickier I never knew when yoshi wanted to get out of his bath and would usually just wait until he started scratching the side of his bathtub. I placed a plastic red sequin about 1.5 lard and glued it to his bath I then waited until he hit with his nose and then pulled him out dryer him off and put him back under his enclosure with a treat. So know he will tell you when he’s ready to stop soaking.

I am currently working on teaching him and seems to be working flawlessly, while it takes a lot of time and patience and persistence. In the end it’s totally worth it.

I never thought about training my tortoise... I should start. Anyway congratulations!!!?
 

ss22matt

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Aug 13, 2021
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West Midlands
I've seen people train other reptiles to do simple tricks like raise their leg to "shake" for a food reward, and it seems to be possible via normal reward training you'd give to mammals/birds.

Tortoises are supposed to be among the smartest reptiles so I imagine it is possible with them too. I wouldn't expect much beyond a raise of a leg or something though when you put your hand (with food) by them. You might be able to get them to recognize certain balls with food in them or something and maybe get something through that. If they can't recognize the object, they could understand the texture and color.
I wouldn't expect them to respond to anything verbal though. That simply isn't in their nature and they wouldn't understand it.
 

Sarah2020

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Great Post and question LOL . Wishful thinking and in your dreams was my immediate thought. I agree they train you not other way round.

I have however trained Speedy to walk onto a large plate when it's time for soak or visit to outside enclosure but that is all. I think it is more luck and an opportunity to escape. Keep us posted on your progress.
 

Gillian M

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Jordan
Personally speaking, I do not believe torts can be trained. They only run for food!

I tried to train my Greek tort for very long. However, I didn't get anywhere and I gave up.
 

Linda Brodzik

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Joined
Jul 18, 2022
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
Lincoln, Nebraska
Has anyone worked on training a tortoise, Curious to hear if anyone has had success here is my story of my journey training my Russian tortoise named Yoshi.

Yoshi is a 4 year rescue who loves to sleep in hoodie pockets, watch finding Nemo (he will not watch anything other then that), yoshi also love tomato’s, and a very smart personable tortoise.

I’ve been working on training him two hours a day for the past 6 months I currently use a target stick with a red foam ball on the end of it and a clicker. since I acquired him I have been teaching him that when he touches the red ball I will reward him with a treat. He now will chase after the ball and follow it until he is able to touch his nose to it. I will then click the clicker 2 times to show affirmation, and then reward him with a small piece of tomato.

That was his first trick i taught him.

The next one was a tad trickier I never knew when yoshi wanted to get out of his bath and would usually just wait until he started scratching the side of his bathtub. I placed a plastic red sequin about 1.5 lard and glued it to his bath I then waited until he hit with his nose and then pulled him out dryer him off and put him back under his enclosure with a treat. So know he will tell you when he’s ready to stop soaking.

I am currently working on teaching him and seems to be working flawlessly, while it takes a lot of time and patience and persistence. In the end it’s totally worth it.
I have trained my Sulcata to offer a "High Five" on each front leg when cued. She also learned several targeting behavuiors. My Leopard tortoise has learned to offer two different "consent signals" to being picked up. She is also involved in a project to teach scent detection and is doing well with this. I am a professional animal trainer and enjoy the challenges of working with/training a tortoise. Here are a few veey early videos Of my Sulcata learning "High Five".
 
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