Tortoises can only adapt to which they are accustomed. I have been the watchful eye over 3 tortoises for nearly 2 years. Sadly one of them passed away shortly after receiving him. Of the two that remain, Eduardo and Pip, I have come to learn a few things.
Tortoises being an ancient ancestor of previous ages are one of Darwins prime examples given for evolution. Evolution by the way is not about fittest, but those most able to adapt to its environment. So with tortoises, in all their shapes and sizes which there are many, makes them a display of successful evolution?
First of all, tortoises know they need the basics of warmth food and shelter. They command all these things based on their temperment then work on improving it.
They all behave differently and some thrive while others need behavior coaching. Of my two, Eduardo has quickly learned the food provided is what should be eaten. The other, Pip, over the past 18 months has only eaten the healthy food when absolutely necessary. Otherwise it is a case of holding out for the dandelion leaves which do not provide the same nutritional value.
In contrast, when provided with heat, Pip will happily stay among the more arid area. Eduardo on the other hand will happily seek out where there is undergrowth or other ways to become antisocial and hidden. That is, unless food is involved, Eduardo will suffer anything.
The baths are interesting, because both tortoises will take drinks of water as they feel the need. While I worry about Pip in their health, they both consume water the same.
Pip is definetly more sociable. Always ready to come out of their shell and explore. But yet, extremely picky in their appetite. To the point I worry that their choice of diet affects their overall health.
Thus far over 18 months Eduardo and pip while starting out the same size, have now varied greatly in their development. By about 20% in growth. However each seem equally happy. Albeit the more apparently healthy one is larger and more developed.
My question to myself and the world is that what makes either of these tortoises more successful in their life being other than longevity being the end result meausre? There is no way to understand their overall happiness. For all I know the under-developed Pip is quite happy being a crack-addict dandelion muncher despite the more healthy food pellets they often reject.
What I think that matters, after watching them a short while, which I will write more in years to come; Those that make action to improve their surroundings have thresholds of tolerance and ambition. Those that have a short tolerance have more of an impact than those with high ambition. Here is my reasoning.
Eduardo despite so far being more healthy, is always likely to move himself to where the hay is. If I move the hay from the warm area under the heatlamp to where there is no heatlamp, so they move themselves to where the hay is within temperatures above 22C. Below 19C Eduardo will not move out of the heated area.
Pip is ambitious in that they are always out of their shell in being picked up. Contrasting to Eduardo who is always quick to recoil inside theirs, I have never found Pip to be shy and always ready to explore yards/gardens without hesitation. Eduardo will happily burry themself out of the sun. Depending on the food display, Pip will make very quick movements to food they prefer while unhealthy (i.e. dandelion leaves). I think this lack of listening to their own body could be evolutionary.
While Pip is more active and particular in their behavior, Eduardo seems to be most healthy because of their acceptance of the status quoue. Eduardos acceptance to move out of immediate heat comfort towards their preferred undergrowth situation could be personal, but also a display of adaption within thresholds while are healthy. in turn it could be those thresheolds are not acknowledged by Pip.
Pip over the course of time has begun to follow Eduardo’s lead, albeit not so much on the dietary front.
Both are living their life to the best of their ability. Given any opportunity to move outside their given environment they would happily do so without emotion. They might do better or not. They do not have mental capacity to feel so the results of their actions are devoid of reflection. A true demonstration of adaption without remorse. They don’t think or contemplate, they just do.