ISSN 2398-2985      

Chelonia social behavior

Jreptile

Aggression

  • Aggression is a normal part of the behavioral repertoire of most animals and chelonians are no different. For example, in the wild, the aggressive behavior of female loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) ranges from passive threat displays, eg head-tail circling, to aggressive combat, eg sparring, directed toward other females Chelonia behavior problems.
  • In captivity, aggression can present a serious problem when multiple turtles are housed in the same enclosure, especially if space is limited. For example, some aquatic species, such as diamondback terrapins, may be housed with conspecifics when enough space is provided. However, other species such as snapping turtles, softshell turtles, and big-headed turtles are known to be more aggressive and should not be housed together at all. Even in species that are ‘safe’ housed together, aggression can occur, and is often secondary to poor environment or other health issues.
  • Aggression is common among captive breeding male tortoises and may include shell ramming, overturning the opponent, head bobbing, open mouth threat displays, dominance threat displays, eg male tortoise raises its body very high off the ground, vocalizations and biting.
  • Turtles that are housed together should be separated permanently if aggression is seen.
  • Turtles from different geographical regions should never be housed together because of the potential for disease transmission, parasites, and increased environmental stress Chelonia husbandry.
  • Aggression directed toward human caretakers is less common, but could be associated with previous aversive events, a response to perceived threats, or competition for resources.

Aggregation

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Mohan-Gibbons H & Raiti P (2010) Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins. In: Behavior of Exotic Pets. Ed: Tynes V V. Wiley-Blackwell. pp 33-43.
     
Reproduced with permission from Valerie V Tynes: Behavior of Exotic Pets © 2010, published by John Wiley & Sons.

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