Tortoises are solitary animals that don’t need the company of humans or their species to be happy. They’re solitary animals that only come together to mate and reproduce.
Tortoises like their owners’ company, but it takes time to forge tortoise-human relationships.
In time, they’ll associate you with things they enjoy, like food, shelter, and safety. Trusting tortoises will come over when they hear your footsteps, follow you, or sit comfortably in your presence.
Some owners claim their tortoises love them, accepting head strokes and neck rubs. Of course, every tortoise is different; some are distant and aloof, while others are friendly and more sociable.
Do Tortoises Feel Love?
Since tortoises are reptiles, they can’t experience love in the way it’s understood by humans. However, tortoises can express affection or pleasure when they see their owners.
If a tortoise likes you, it might do the following:
- Follow you everywhere
- Allow you to touch them
- Eat from human hands
- Come over to you
According to Animals, tortoises experience complex emotions and are considered to have sentience. Tortoises are capable of feeling a wide range of things, including:
It’s difficult to tell what emotions tortoises feel, as they may not be easy to express. We know how a tortoise reacts to positive and negative environments, like:
If tortoises can feel this wide range of emotions, love doesn’t seem as far-fetched.
How Do Tortoises Show Affection?
Tortoises are reptiles, and they perceive the world differently than humans. This will influence their responses to stimuli and behavioral reactions.
Your tortoise won’t approach you to be cuddled, nor will it jump up and down when you enter the room.
Instead, it’ll likely stay in one place, feeling content and safe in your presence. It’ll watch you as a sign of affection or even engage in whatever you do.
In your company, a long, stretched-out neck could suggest a desire to be stroked or petted. It indicates a desire for affection when it leans into your touch and shuts its eyes.
Tortoises can demonstrate affection by touching your hand or arm with their nose, a social behavior observed in the wild.
A tortoise wandering the house or yard may follow you as a sign of affection, brushing against you for pats on the head or following you a few steps behind.
Your tortoise won’t show affection as a dog would. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean it’s not happy to see you. If it lets you stroke it or comes to you when it sees you, this indicates that your tortoise likes you.
How To Bond With Your Tortoise
Tortoises aren’t known for their bonding ability, preferring to be alone.
While they may learn to accept each other, a tortoise that isn’t mating would rather not be around other tortoises. Unsurprisingly, the same applies to humans.
We’d like to believe that a tortoise comes over because it has formed a bond with you, but the chances are that this is a reflex action based on the fact that you provide food.
You can offer your tortoise a treat and rub its neck. Ensure that its enclosure is clean, warm, and well-maintained. Let it roam in your presence and grow comfortable around you.
If a tortoise feels safe with you, it’ll grow more attached to you. Of course, it’ll take a long time for your tortoise to form a special bond with you as they’re purposeful and long-lived animals.
Do Tortoises Recognize Their Owners?
Tortoises are most likely to associate you with food since getting fed is every animal’s primary objective. They’ll also associate your presence with safety because you preserve their surroundings.
As mentioned, tortoises can sense vibration patterns through the floor as you approach them. They can also smell you, which enables them to recognize you.
Do Tortoises Know Their Names?
Some tortoises react when their name is spoken, while others don’t.
Tortoises have a limited sense of hearing, only perceiving deep sounds. However, tortoises know their owner even if they don’t know their names.
Only a few sound frequencies appear to be comprehended and reacted to, such as those generated by hatching or breeding and dueling adults.
A tortoise can hear if your voice is low-pitched but can’t recognize its name. Instead, it can sense vibration patterns and smells, which could be why it reacts when you call out to it.
Reptiles lack the physical ear structure and cognitive development required to identify and recall their names. So, you’re unlikely to succeed if you try to teach your tortoise to recognize its name.
Do Tortoises Like Being Held?
The shell is a tactile transmitter of sensation, not a hard, dry mass. You’ll quickly figure out how a tortoise likes to be handled. However, don’t hold or handle a tortoise regularly.
Some tortoises love to have their shells stroked, while others prefer a neck rub. They’ll ask for a rub by stretching out their necks.
The longer you’ve owned a tortoise, the more comfortable it’ll be with being handled. So, coming back to the question, “do tortoises like human company?” It depends on how you treat your tortoise.
A tortoise will learn to trust you if you never hurt or agitate it. However, it may learn to never trust you again if you mistreat it.
Do Tortoises Like Stroked or Petted?
A tortoise’s shell is made of keratin, a type of protein. The shell, unlike your nails, is densely packed with nerve endings, making it sensitive to touch.
Many tortoises enjoy tactile stimuli, like stroking and scratching. So, when engaging or playing with a tortoise, you can touch its shell and scratch its head.
If it stretches its neck and seems like it’s enjoying itself, this signifies that your tortoise likes being petted or stroked. If you do this every couple of days, your tortoise will connect with you.
Do Tortoises Like Being Handled?
Some tortoises like to be held by their owners, while others don’t. Remember that their shells are sensitive to even the lightest touch, which means they can perceive discomfort.
A tortoise will let you know if it dislikes being held. Long-necked tortoises may turn around and snap at you if they don’t want to be held. Tortoises may express their discontent by:
- Retreating into the shell
- Hiding in its burrow
So, while tortoises are adorable, they’re not cuddly animals.
Once you recognize the behaviors that express affection, you can reinforce those behaviors. If your tortoise follows you around and bumps into you, it might want attention or food.
By giving it food and petting it, you can reinforce the positive feelings associated with you. Hand-feeding grass or leaves results in a tortoise trusting you sooner.