General Care Discussion :: Any Hope for an Overly Agressive Male?

Taking care of your turtle's overall health.

Post Posted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 9:52 pm   Any Hope for an Overly Agressive Male?

I just upgraded to a 200 gallon indoor pond, so decided to add my one male into the mix of two females. He was on his own before in a tank, as were they, but I have dismantled the tanks and do not want to go back to them.

He immediately began pestering the females, which is why I separated him to begin with. I've added lots of vegetation to hide in and the pond is fairly large. I wouldn't mind it if all he did was bug the females and flutter his nails, but he's biting them, too.

Do they ever mellow out? Do the females ever put him in his place? Or I am going to be faced with the sad choice of either having him harm the females OR putting him up for adoption?

What do people with large turtle colonies do because this must come up all the time? Thanks for any and all advice!
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Post Posted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:49 pm   

How big/old are they? My male RES constantly follows my female RES and there is harassment but no aggression. The biting would worry me too, and I wonder if there is a way you can separate them for most of the day.
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Post Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 12:02 am   

They are fully mature. The male is about 6 years old, one of the females is 10 and the other is 5. The females are full sized, about 10-12", with the male about half that. If I separate, I'd need to build a special divider in the pond with a second basking platform---I really prefer not to do that.
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Post Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:41 am   

The options are limited here... I can't think of anything that will change his behaviour toward his tank mates. How long did he keep this up previously?
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Post Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:54 am   

The behavior emerged as he matured about 4 years ago. It lasted a couple of weeks before I decided to separate him in another tank---an option I don't want to do again because I went to a lot of trouble and expense to replace the two tanks with a 200 gallon pond. I was hopeful that in a large pond the females would have enough room to avoid him, and if they weren't constantly near him he would calm down.

I guess I don't expect him to stop pestering them, but was hoping that with plenty of room and vegetation it wouldn't be as stressful for the females---isn't that the way it is in a natural pond in the wild? If I provided some hiding spots (making an artificial underwater cave, for example) would that help?

If all he did was bug them, it would be OK. My bigger concern is if he continues biting he will break their skin and that will lead to infections, etc. That's what happened 4 years ago that led me to separate him.
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Post Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 12:58 pm   

That's what happened to a member on another forum (biting got bad enough to cause wounds). Hiding places might help if you don't have any. A pond in the wild is a lot bigger than 200-gallons, and a female would have the option of leaving it altogether if absolutely necessary.

Is it possible to put a divider in the pond to separate them at least temporarily if things get too bad? (I'm thinking of a long plexiglass or plastic piece that would be removable.)
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Post Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:07 pm   

It may come to that, but that means setting up another basking platform and lighting array. I continue to monitor the situation.
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Post Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 4:29 pm   

If the basking area was large enough, maybe the divider could run through that and the overhead uva/uvb lights will still be effective. Do you have any pics of the current setup, I'd like to see what you have created.
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Post Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 4:50 pm   

I will after this weekend and will post them.
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:52 pm   

UPDATE: I noticed today that one of the females had a bite mark on her neck, which I treated. The other seems untouched.

But the male has a few bite marks on his front feet and face! So it seems the females are not letting him get away with anything and biting back.

QUESTION: Will he learn his lesson and leave them alone, at least most of the time, (which would mean I could keep him in the pond) or are turtles too dumb to "learn?"

Finally, can anybody recommend a good source for adoption in the Los Angeles area, in case I need to send him away? The CA Turtle and Tortoise Club has not responded to my emails for assistance.

Thanks all! Larry
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 3:02 pm   

I don't think turtles are dumb (but certainly don't have the intelligence of higher animals) and they can be conditioned to avoid negative situations. Don't know if your male will learn his lesson, though--instinct is a powerful force, and boys will be boys. Only time will tell. If the biting continues/escalates, though, I'd seriously think about separating them. The constant stress can't be good for the females. One place you could try if it comes to having him adopted (hopefully it won't), is the American Tortoise Rescue (based in Malibu, I think) http://www.tortoise.com Despite its name, the organization says it deals with all species of tortoises and turtles. If nothing else, maybe they would know of some other places to contact. Good luck. Let us know what happens.
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 3:55 pm   

Yes, I know of them---good alternative to the CTTC. Yes, I'd hate to give Romeo away. This is going to sound funny, but when I take them out of their habitat so they can wander around the house, the females take off for a dark corner, but he follows me around!
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 4:52 pm   

The poor guy sounds like he's craving attention. :)
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 5:35 pm   

LKitsch, my male also follows my female when out of the tank. Then they both compete for the tightest hiding spot.
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