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3yr Marginated Tortoise. Suddenly agressive
Posted: 24/05/2013 by Gem_Anouk


I am hoping someone can offer me advice on my little marginated tortoise, Anouk! I have had Anouk since she was 11months old and she appears most of the time happy, content and enjoys interacting and climbing anything she can find! Ive handled her a lot since getting her in 2011, she is calm enough that on occasions when she has had grit in her eyes, Anouk will allow me to get it out for her. Anouk has a good appetite, ever growing in size and goes to a reptile vet regularly. However I had to take her to the vets yesterday as she (or maybe he!) has had a dramatic sudden change in behaviour, when she is brought out from her home (a two floor table home we built at new year as pictured) she runs after my hand with her mouth open, trying to bite me! Its such a change from her usual self. Anouks ok with my hand an things in her home, its just when she out! I have also noticed in the last 4 days, Anouk was biting her own front legs and trying really hard to scratch her neck on the scales on her front legs :( (she gets bathed, has access to a shallow water dish and also a small separate drinking dish)
I have three ideas....
1. She is a he and is demonstrating territorial behaviour. I am unsure as Anouk is only 2 and a half? The reason I am thinking this is because it looks very much like tortoise male aggression, and Anouk did the same thing for 2 days within the exact same month last year... i.e. last spring. The vet said yesterday "looking at Anouks underside of the tail, compared to three months ago, its looking more like you have a male now"! Anouk also tried to nip the vet and roamed around his desk, when Anouk found the computer mouse... charged and was trying to bite it! The vets response; "well this a change in behaviour, you certainly have a grumpy tortoise on your hands!" Anouk has gained good weight since her last check and is thriving.
2. Anouk is shedding a great deal due to her growth spurt and is frustrated by the itching!? The vet noticed Anouks shedding and commented on it being itchy. I also showed him a sample of her soil, and he told me it had become too dry and needed changing which may also be contributing to the itching.
3. The second idea is Anouk is incredibly peed off as I took her out down by the river a week ago. The change in behaviour correlates with her going out on a bank in the sun. I have done this a few times when it is a sunny day and then sulks for about a day (I never leave her and keep her within my sight at all times, clearing any poisonous greenery when she's out). I was thinking maybe she felt vulnerable after that and was telling me to leave her alone until she has chilled out!

Anyway apologies for the mass post, if you have any ideas or advice, please help! I am trying to do anything to understand the situation and have a happy tortoise, currently Anouk is going by the unisex name of Grumpy Pants!

Anouk's home now only contains loam / soil and sand.
Posted: 24/05/2013 by Gem_Anouk

Anouks home no longer contains wood chipping. The photo of Anouk's home was taken before I changed the wood chippings.

Re: 3yr Marginated Tortoise. Suddenly agressive
Posted: 26/05/2013 by Tom

Hello Gem, it's good that it is healthy, but why does a healthy tort need regular trips to a vet ? The leg biting & scratching is unusual, could be caused by mites? look with a magnifying glass. Why take it to the river? Do you have a wooden sided enclosure in the garden? that's what it needs. Re your indoor house, with clear sides, it's best to cover these, so that it can't see out. It will feel more secure. I suggest minimal handling for a period & outside as much as poss., it doesn't need to be perfect weather & they love sunshine & showers.
Hope I haven't seemed critical - Just a few suggestions in the absence of a reply from anyone else.
Best wishes


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