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In this article, I am going to talk about how to make your turtle not afraid of you. This is a gradual process and requires time and patient. With enough patience and following the right procedure, you can eventually train your turtle not to get afraid of you.
Here are the steps you can follow to make your turtle not afraid of you:
Step 1: Observation
When you want to train any animal, a good observation of the animal is a must whether it is a cat, dog or a turtle. With a good observation, you’ll start to know your turtle better. You’ll know when your turtle feels comfortable, what scares it, what motivates it the most etc. Knowing these things are very important to train your turtle.
- Don’t move suddenly in front of the turtle. It is a sure way to make your turtle scared of you as turtles don’t like sudden rapid movements
- While standing in front of the turtle enclosure, make slow movements along with observing the turtle. This also lets your turtle get accustomed to your presence which is the first step to make it comfortable around you.
Step 2: Motivation with Food
The only way to reach your turtle’s heart is to reach through its stomach. Food is the most effective way to train a turtle. Foods are what motivates them the most. You can use this motivation to your advantage. Here are some tips:
- It is better to form a feeding routing by feeding your turtle at the same time every day
- First, place the food inside the tank and observe the turtle while it eats. During this time, don’t make any sudden movements which can startle the turtle
- Once the turtle is comfortable feeding around you, it’s time to advance to the next step. Now you need to gradually train your turtle to hand-feed. This step needs patience. Hold a food that is longer in length such as a piece of lettuce. Not, hold the lettuce about six inches away from the turtle and wait for it to come near your hand and it the lettuce. Keep in mind that it is completely natural to fail in the first couple of tries. You just need to be patient.
- If the lettuce doesn’t entice the turtle that much, try with something that your turtle goes crazy with such as crickets, chicken or any other food.
Step 3: Petting the Turtle
Is it possible to pet a turtle? Yes, it is. However, it is not as simple as petting a dog or cat. Generally, turtles don’t like to be pet. They’ll enjoy it only if they are accustomed to your presence. So, the first thing you need to ensure is your turtle is comfortable around you.
Once the turtle starts to hand feed from you, it is time to slowly start petting. While the turtle eats, you can gently pet his head and neck. If the turtle stops eating or retreat into the shell, then the time is not right yet. You need to wait more. As I have said before, this is simply a game of patience. The longer you can be patient, the better your chance is of winning.
Step 4: Make a Safe Zone
Safe zones are extremely important for your turtles. It is the place where they feel 100% safe and comfortable. It is the place where they retreat when a potential danger occurs. So, you should never invade in a turtle’s safe zone. You need to provide them that respect.
Longs, coconut shells, commercially sold hiding places etc. can be a good safe zone for your turtles. A safe zone makes your turtle relaxed and calm as it knows if something happens he can retreat to the safe zone. By not invading the safe zone, your turtle associates you as a friendly being.
Step 5: Low Interaction
One thing you need to keep in mind is, turtles are not like cats or dogs. No matter how much friendly you are, a turtle will not show that level of comfort around you like a dog or cat. Even, they are not that social which means turtles tend to prefer a lonely life.
So, don’t keep your expectations up above the roof. Just accept that they are not cats or dogs, so it is not logical to expect dog or cat like behavior from them. When the turtle is resting or basking, don’t disturb it. You should only interact with the turtle when it is interested.
One important thing:
As I have said earlier, turtles are not that much of a social animal and they prefer a solitary life. In some cases, it can be extremely hard (or even impossible) to successfully pet a turtle or make it comfortable around you.
Some turtle can remain skittish their entire life and treat you as a potential danger. There is nothing you can do other than waiting. It is just the natural instinct of turtles as in the wild, they have to always be cautious about potential dangers.