Turtle Intelligence

Turtle Intelligence

If you ask someone which of the pets is the smartest, many without thinking will say it is without a doubt a cat, a dog, a decorative rat, and possibly a large parrot. Yes, it’s true that our four-legged friends are rational creatures, but do mammals only have intelligence? Reasonable pet should be able to communicate with the owner, understand his commands, the word "can not", to know his place for sleeping in the house and so on. But are turtles smart? The fact is that the tortoise has a different mind, unlike domestic predators or rodents.

As paleontological evidence shows, the development paths of turtles and other higher vertebrates (mammals, reptiles and their direct descendants. Birds) diverged at a previous level. stages of different amphibian ancestors. Differences can be traced both morphologically and probably also "psychological" levels.

Turtles have a unique body structure, which takes shape from the very beginning of their evolution, in parallel with the more or less distinct formation of this group. In addition, as noted by many who have kept both for a long time and have been quite patient in their observations, the level of intelligence of turtles significantly exceeds the development of most other reptiles. They form conditioned reflexes and stereotypes of behavior that are stable and difficult for a reptile (try to teach a crocodile to knock on a feeding trough when he wants to eat, or drink a snake from a tap or defecate in a certain place, and with some turtles it was possible).

With prolonged communication, both land and freshwater turtles without difficulty distinguish people in the face, moreover, visually, and not chemically, which would be understandable. And finally, in recent years several cases have been noted, simply amazing, if their interpretation was correct. perhaps some species of turtles are capable of game behavior. In 1996, an entire article was written on this subject – about the giant African Trionyx (Trionyx triunguis) in the Washington Zoo. The bottom line was that the poor turtles in cramped aquariums constantly poked their noses into the glass and washed their delicate proboscis. At some point, the zoo workers decided to leave them a bunch of all inedible junk – logs, old basketballs, etc. As a result, stubborn turtles began to drive stubbornly around the aquarium, poking and throwing their heads all the rubbish thrown at them! They stopped tearing their noses off the glass!
Another story is also about Trionix. The old turtle, kept for many years in the same conditions of the zoo, for no apparent reason began to bite its feet, causing serious wounds. They could not find out the reason, but this behavior also suddenly stopped. After more careful and constant observation, they found that in the tortoise pool the minister left a small red rubber ball, which the Trionics periodically begins to push with its paws and nose in different directions, without showing any food, nor defensive or aggressive reflexes, i.e., not correlating subject for any practical purposes.

Despite the weak development of the brain, when testing for intelligence, turtles show relatively good results. Central Asian turtles are easy to learn to find exit from the maze, choose and find the right feeding or heating place, exceeding the lizards, rats and snakes participating in the test.
An example of a labyrinth is usually a T-shaped labyrinth in which you can go either to the right or to the left. For example, there is food at the end of the right corridor. Accordingly, for some time the experimental creature (whoever it is) remembers that there is food only on the right, and will always turn only to the right in this super-complex “maze”. In the case of a rat, a couple of attempts are enough to remember the road. In the case of turtles, more is needed (in the region of 5-10 attempts, depending on the type of tortoise and the shape of the maze). In the case of fish – much more, several dozen.

Similar experiments to identify “spatial cognition” (Spatial cognition) were carried out on many turtles (Clemmys guttata, Glyptemys insculpta, Trachemys scripta, Chelonoidis carbonaria, Testudo graeca, etc.), on lizards (many monitor lizards, Timon lepidus, Cnemidophor. etc.), even on the hatteria! However, the ability to remember a turn to the right, or even some more complex combination (such as "right-right-left-left-right-right-right again …") indicates only elementary spatial memory, and the intellect does not apply directly.

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A more difficult experience is the study of the ability to "relearn the other way around!" The turtle has already learned to turn right and only right. And then all of a sudden, bam. and the maze changes by 180 degrees, so now you have to turn only to the left. There are already a little more brains needed, because you need to be able to cross out the “correct option” so well imprinted in the head and replace it with the completely opposite one! In 1963, poor red-eared turtles had to be taught for more than a week before they could “forget”!

Turtle Intelligence

Scientists conducted an interesting experiment. A feeder filled with food was moved along the rail. Then they lowered the screen. And in the center of this wall there is a window with a door. In front of this wall they put a turtle (Trionics Pelodiscus sinensis), which through an ajar door sees a bowl of food. A turtle can stick its head through the door, but the bowl is far away, so the neck length is not enough! Accordingly, after a couple of vain clicks of the jaws in the air, the Trionics calmly creeps out this wall and gets lunch. The experiment involved pigeons and field voles, rabbits, hens, ducks, turtles. The participants in the experiment were tasked with finding disappeared food. Only turtles coped with the task. You need to be able to ignore the distracting maneuver in the form of a delicious lunch in the window and focus on overcoming the obstacle, which also needs to be circumvented somehow.

There have also been studies on correspondences between the picture of some object and the real object. Recently it turned out that some reptiles are also able to do this, in particular, coal turtles (Chelonoidis carbonaria).
The experiment, during which it was found out, looked like this: at first, the tees showed two photos – one with something tasty, and the other with something inedible; if the tortoise became interested in “edible” photography, then she was further offered a choice of another photograph of the same yummy and, in fact, real yummy. As a result, most turtles really first recognized their food in photographs, and then almost always purposefully went to real, real food.

Another point on which cognitive abilities are evaluated is the ability to do something completely new in completely unnatural situations (the so-called novel behavior).
When, for example, rats are forced to click on some left digging, pulling leverage and all that …
Turtles and monitor lizards in this sense solve very complex problems!
So, for example, Florida Pseudemys nelsoni was taught to flip the right plastic bottle and get yummy out from under it. Somewhere in the 20 attempts, they realized that they were required to turn over some strange, unfamiliar bottle and get a piece of feed from under it.

Desert turtles, in particular gophers (not all, but only some), after small rare rains build "pools", water which can be stored up to six hours.

There have been fewer places suitable for laying eggs recently, and North American freshwater turtles have become lay eggs in nests alligators. In them, the laying of turtles is less likely to be destroyed by predators.

Turtles enough quickly get used to captivity. They cease to be afraid of man and take food from his hands. If they are fed at a certain time in a certain place, they are trained to come there on time. Some owners are convinced that their turtles know their nickname.

An experiment was conducted on two eastern box turtles in order to find out how turtles look at the world. The question was asked: do turtles see the difference between two colored shoulder blades when food is used as an incentive? And the turtles not only chose the right spatula, but also chose it even with a different shade of the same color. And the turtles learned to draw these conclusions without any training. They simply applied what they knew about the black and white shoulder blades to the shoulder blades of various shades of gray and even blue. This ability to look at two objects and make a choice between them. a skill that does not develop even in human children until they go to primary school.

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Turtle Intelligence

Turtles can learn from each other’s skills

A group of scientists led by a cognitive biologist Anna Wilkinson from the University of Vienna, Austria, found that turtles, although not inclined to live in a flock and rarely meet each other in the natural environment, can learn from each other skills. Under natural conditions, coal turtles live a typically lonely life, devoid of even parental care. But in the laboratory, when solving problems, they can pick up clues by observing more skillful turtles. This is the first evidence of reptilian social learning. This is also the first evidence that non-social animals can observe their neighbors and then perform a task that they were previously unable to solve on their own.

In mammals, birds, and insects, learning ability through observing a neighbor is manifested in those who live in groups, such as chimpanzees and bees. Therefore, scientists usually associate social learning with a social lifestyle. It is possible that social learning in social and non-social species has interesting differences, and in this case it would be interesting to explore.

Examples of smart domestic turtle behavior:

"My turtle could ask for food (it came up and "bit" toe) and walk (crawled to the front door and scrubbed, as if trying to open it. She clearly knew what time the sun would be in what room. Warm up and distinguish who feeds it. "

"When he wants to eat, the turtle transfers the food plate from one corner of the terrarium to another and puts it in its drinking bowl / bathing".

"I have a special relationship with Tama. She really meets me from work, she just runs towards the glass when I enter the room. And it won’t calm down until I stroked it. Although there is food, it does not make sense to beg for it. There is very rarely starts until I talk: Eat a girl, eat a beauty. When I go on vacation, my daughter calls on the phone, brings the phone to the terr, I start talking and the turtle crawls out of the house! Here is how to explain it? And the case I wrote about in my diary. On a walk, the boy came up to see, I warned that you should not touch. At first, the child simply watched, but followed her inseparably, then he began to tear the grass and shove it. I stood about three meters away. So my little girl just rushed to me and froze at my feet. Yes, she has no muscles on her face, she cannot smile. I don’t know, but I always feel her mood, and in some strange way the expression of her face is different. This is noticed by homeworkers. The daughter says so, today Tama is not in the mood.
As for the names. Tama and Navel are in my same terra, across the partition. When I open. both turtles turn their heads, but the one to whom I am addressing reacts, the second one (s) simply calms down and continues to do his own thing. But here, intonation apparently plays a role, because I always lisp with Navel."

"And I trained my mother turtles: when he runs in circles on the terra with his mouth open, his mother puts something tasty there. "

" At first, it seemed to me that I brought to the house not a turtle, but some kind of cat. so she jumped, ran, bit, of course (although playing, she was herself at lunch time "intelligence") She didn’t recognize anyone else, except me, ate only what I gave her, if another would give her (even if a ripe tasty cabbage or salad), she categorically refused and waited for me. She could creep up to me, climb on her leg and begin to demand that I would stroke her on the shell (not always of course, but when I was in the mood). Loved when I talked to her, sat and listened. She knew her name. you’ll come from work, if you don’t meet, then he immediately responds to the name and either climbs out, or somehow makes it clear by knocking / rustling that you are aware of your arrival. I never tried to escape, but always tried to be noticeable and was interested in everything. She loved when she was stroking her neck, she purred straight. But the most interesting thing is, she learned to make a sound that sounds like a click (if I describe it correctly). It’s just that when I greeted her in the morning or when I came home from work I made this sound to attract her attention and after a while I was surprised to find that she was responding, trying to repeat it, each time getting better and better. And when I don’t really like it, you’ll take it to pat it on your lap, and it seems that it feels so quiet and becomes and tries to caress like a cat (rubs its neck with your hand or puts its head on my hand and looks into my eyes).
In general, I can talk about it a lot and for a long time. I want to note that all animals are different and with their own characters, like humans. But the fact that they sometimes love us more than we do them, I now know for sure."

"And I’ll tell you such an incident: my husband came to pick up a turtle from an old mistress, with whom she lived for 33 years. The old woman handed it to him and began to lament: like, goodbye, Chika, my good one! And the turtle. whined. The husband would not exaggerate, not in his character. but was very surprised by this. I have three teal, and it is this one that behaves in the most interesting way: it always raises its head when I approach the aviary, waits for it to be released for a walk, never "gets shy" (unlike the other two). So, living together with a person certainly has some effect on them."

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"Well, I can’t say for sure how smart and how emotional, but I can say that my little red, who lived with people before me for two years and was kept in incomprehensible way (there are suspicions of being empty), accustomed to walking on the carpet-sofa while I my aquas follows me, rises almost on its hind legs (it’s necessary, by the way, to make a video, it’s really fun). It is unlikely that this is in search of food, because it usually feeds the daughter, feed from her hands, and the husband feeds too, I am the least likely to end up. But I chat most of all. I also disgustingly not like a tortoise like to hold her in my arms, sitting does not go away. In the aquarium, he reacts to all joyfully, to home, to no strangers.
Those. it is logical to assume that they distinguish us."

That is, it will be difficult to specifically teach a turtle, but living next to a person the reptile itself will begin to manifest conditioned (worked out) reflexes in order to obtain the required.

In addition, different types of turtles have different "abilities". For example, small and weak turtles, in order to survive and get what they want, it becomes necessary to remember the situation around them, notice the movement and changes, get used to the environment. living and nonliving, they distinguish individual people, are able to get along in a group, some authors believe that they are able to learn from someone else’s experience. As a rule, this is more often referred to as species active in their biology. Other turtles. more often ambushes, predators. more primitive in reactions.

In general, according to general observations, if the owner treats the turtle well, not only feeds, cleans, but often talks, calls by name, etc., the turtle may very well begin to respond to a specific person as the owner and is quite able to remember its name and "to respond" on him. It just takes more time than with other (warm-blooded) pets.

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