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Turtles/Red foot tortoise


QUESTION: Hi Jeannie,
  Maybe you remember Bobber,but we are having problems with the little character for a couple months.  He's been obsessed with our shoes or feet, doing this little dance he does.i finally figured out he's looking for a mate.
 The poor little guy tries crawling up the sides of his tortoise box and then flips himself over. We can't possibly keep an eye on him every minute. How long does this "in heat" period last. How many times and what part of the season does this happen. I thought about getting him a little stuffed tortoise if that might help?


I do remember Bobber, but refresh my memory a bit.  How big/old is he?  If he's under 5 or 6 inches, he's not mature yet.  Time of year can affect behavior, so it's possible it's a late summer thing.  Tortoises can flip themselves back over quite well, as long as there's something for them to dig their claws into (substrate works) and they're not wedged in somewhere.  

Male tortoises can be, ah, quite randy, but from my observations they're generally not too bad unless they actually know there are females around.  If there are, then it's all year round.  Since tortoises are usually pretty solitary, male tortoises might have to do quite a lot of travel to find a female.  So Bobber might be in the mood, so to speak, or it could simply be the season (and again, if he's still fairly small then he's not mature yet).

Sorry to be so vague, but it's hard to say what's going on.  Is he eating well?  Does he get time outdoors?  Sometimes being able to spend time in an outdoor pen helps with a restless tortoise.  Post back and we'll see what we can figure out.  

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QUESTION: Thanks Jeannie, your great!  Bobber shell is almost 6 inches wide and 8.5 long. About 6 years old, so he probably is mature
How much bigger do you think he will get?  
He flips himself over more outside and in his inside pen, so we put him out for awhile until we get tired of going out to turn him over. Then we bring him in and let him roam around the house chasing our feet until he gets tired. Then put him in his inside cage and he falls asleep.
   He eats very well and seems very healthy. We actually are enjoying his interaction with us because before he didn't want much to do with us. It's funny how we forget he's running around the house and all of a sudden you feel this cold nose rubbing on your foot.

Thanks again, Jeannie

At that age and  size, he's mature, although he'll keep growing.  He could get up around 12" in time, maybe bigger, but the older they get the slower they grow.  When you measure, it should be straight down the bottom shell, not over curves (put him on a ruler on the floor, up against a wall, to measure).  He does sound active and healthy.  This restless behavior could be mating interest, but seems it should have started earlier in the summer/spring.  Chances are he'll settle down in a month or two (let's hope).  I get varied behavior this time of year.  Some hole up and others are more active, although it's unusually hot now so none are too active at the moment.  So, short answer is (again) could be mating behavior, could be seasonal.  You can always try putting something in there to see what happens--an old boot or something.  Some species of tortoise seem willing to try to mate with anything.  


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Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.


I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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