General Care Discussion :: Sedge drew blood

Taking care of your turtle's overall health.

Post Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 4:34 pm   Sedge drew blood

Sedge (~3.5+ inches now, male) has always been fairly gentle (I've had him about a year now). He tries to bite if he is being man-handled out of the water or something, but usually if I put my hands in the water, he likes to hitch a ride on my hand with his foot and stuff. He seemed perfectly happy for my hand(s) to be in the water. I don't hand feed him too often, but occasionally when he gets a dried mealworm treat or something I do. He has nipped at my fingers before, but had seemed to learn that my hands were not food, and for the most part didn't bite them.

In the past week or two, I have noticed he is biting much more readily while in the water ... and hard! Last week I was messing around in his tank, and he grabbed the skin on my palm and tried to tear it! This was not an accidental nip- more like trying to see if he could rip a chunk off. It left a mark, but no blood. Then, when I was siphoning water from his tank today, he bit my finger while I wasn't looking, which startled me so I dropped the tubing.

After the siphoning / water change today, I tried hand feeding him a couple treats, because he's a pig and I figured I wanted to keep a positive association with my fingers. He did OK with taking the treats, but I left my hand in there to see what he would do, and he bit one fingers while my hand was in a fist- enough to draw blood.

A few potentially stressful things have happened recently:

Last night I had a bunch of people over. Since he is in the living area, there were a lot of people in view of his tank. He didn't hide or anything and stayed active, but I imagine that caused him some stress.

I recently changed from an in tank filter to a canister filter, and today when I did a partial water change I removed the internal filter (had run both for about 10 days or so). So that was another change.

He also often tries to scratch / rub his shell on hard objects in the tank, apparently to help shed / scratch his scutes. Sometimes I pick him up and rub on his shell a bit to help get some flaky pieces off...he doesn't like it, but he makes a big racket ramming himself into hard things in the tank, so I feel like I want to help speed up that process. Maybe it's making him more leery of me.

Anyway, I know as he gets bigger his bites will pack more of a punch. And I assume he got stressed out this week because of a variety of things.

I'm wondering if he is biting more because he is stressed out / less trusting of me (on the other hand, he has become much more comfortable basking over time, which seems to have the opposite indication), because he is just getting older and perhaps his personality is changing as he grows, or (and I'm hoping it's not this one) he is big enough that he thinks he can actually bite through my skin and eat my fingers like they are fish :-O

I think I'm just posting this for moral support. I'm more confused by the seemingly sudden increase in biting that the biting itself. But it would be nice if he wasn't just going to keep getting more aggressive (or human-eating haha)...

My plan is to leave him alone for a week and then see if he behaves any differently if I put my hand in there. Might as well experiment before he gets big enough where it's a lot more painful...
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Kingbird44
 
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Post Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:36 pm   Re: Sedge drew blood

Please do not take this as an analysis or judgment or disapproval of anything, this is my story on what worked for me .

I must be lucky most all RES's I had were sociable / friendly. Only had one female that was just nuts from the start , so I gave her space. Defense mechanism ,yes / instinctive , yes / Handle more for trust , yes . In hobby 55 years really more , I like to offer a turtle a lot of different things to do in his home , it helps if you have an adult size tank to start. That saves me money on all those upgrades over the years. Also allows me to give several hiding spots , caves to look in , mazes to check out , forest area to play in / hunt in , lots things to climb on , river rocks to dig in. All this give them a great deal to do. Even Mickey 18 year old sometimes still got skittish , I let him alone , all good in a few minutes. Then we play.

I hide food under rocks , live feeders to hunt and hand feed. I don't just throw food in and leave calling it quality time. What has truly worked for me was Rubbermaid stock tank's on the ground. I always have a chair 6" away from the side of tank. Even if one was biting I take my arm off the chair place on rim of tub just so it could see it. Week later let arm hang in but not in water. Closer an closer with food or without just so they can make a connection. By third week in water , fingers... yes be careful observe well you can tell if they may bite. Keep doing this and they will understand you are not going to hurt them. Today I can just hang my hand in the tank and Piggley comes over and pushes it. I can tell if he's begging or just saying Hi. If he keeps it up I know what he wants , he loves to be spun around it's one of our games.

No two turtles are alike and all have a different time table when it comes to trust and a good relationship. That's more true about us. The more contact time and patience you have helps. Remember you are like a giant to them. I offer a lot of things for them to do keeps there minds active. If scared I leave them alone , when they feel better we then play. Maybe I woke him up when napping? Five minutes latter ready to play. Never force them to do something they don't want to do. And do everything in slow motion. If you leave them in tank when doing maintenance do it slow. Piggleys to a point he 's (close to 5" now) and he helps clean the tank. If I move that air line in the rocks his head is right there making sure I do it correct. After I'm finish he digs it up see's it and say that's ok. If he doesn't like it there he moves it! He get it his way it his home. He's the boss.
That biting for me does stop , it's more than just time with them. It's the quality of time with them and keeping them happy. Let a turtle be a turtle and do turtle things. Observing to me is the key watch what they do and what they like , then make them something to do it with or on. Piggley loves climbing so he has a lot to climb on. If not in my lap watching TV he's at his high point watching. Like that saying happy wife happy home. Boy it's true. Found it's same with turtles and all pets. A bored and scared turtle is unpredictable and may never warm up to people. Always stressed out look out. Piggley at first always try to escape but now with his home set up the way he want's it that stopped. Sorry long post but this is me and this worked for me , may work for you and others?
litefoot
 
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Post Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 7:25 pm   Re: Sedge drew blood

Thanks for your insight, litefoot. I think Sedge is at least moderately well entertained. I don't really have the space to upgrade right now, but he's in a 29 gal that is all the way full with a pretty big ATBA on top. There are some tetra and danios in there, and he doesn't catch them but did just get a round of ghost shrimp a couple weeks ago, which he loves to root around for. The tank has some artificial plants, rocks, etc.

Again, it's the change that I find odd. Because Sedge used to do what Piggley does with water changes. He would follow me around and get in the way, and wouldn't bite me. Maybe I haven't been spending as much time near him as I used to.

I have this (perhaps silly) thought that after biting hard a few times he will continue to want to do it because he got a taste of flesh, which might actually be tasty to him... :roll:
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Kingbird44
 
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Post Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 7:37 pm   Re: Sedge drew blood

I getting old today I turned 62 my brain went somewhere else ... the above post has helped me with some unruly turtles in my past.
I don't think Sedge will get a taste for you. May just be going through a stage.
Hell a lot of turtle when out water don't feel safe. Water is there control and can move freely!
When Minnie was about three the only way I could calm her down was to have a rag in my hand to hold her. Remove the rag and just wanted to bite ! Rag back on all OK. Maybe try it?
For a while when doing any maintenance in tank take him out , use a small container put him aside do you thing then back in. At least until the biting stops.

I FORGOT back a few years I had a in tank filter , cheap one. Found the motor was going bad was making a noise underwater and it was driving my friend nuts! Feel for any vibration , air stone rattling just a thought. Sedge may have moved something.
litefoot
 
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Post Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:12 pm   Re: Sedge drew blood

I hope its not something in the tank bothering him. Because the only new thing is the input and output for my fluval 306!

Also, happy birthday!
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Kingbird44
 
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Post Posted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:58 am   Re: Sedge drew blood

Belated happy birthday!

Anytime in the water, I think they are more instinctive to bite but when it's my fingers, they put in a half-hearted effort. I think that's progress :)
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steve
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Post Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:38 am   Re: Sedge drew blood

Thanks' Kingbird and Steve on the BD ! Still waiting for those years to go backwards...

Just like a child they go through stages of life at least to me. I found the biggest changes come when there are about (8) just like a child. It takes more patience on our part than there's.
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