Observer interrupts mating giant tortoises, gets chased away at 1 kph

April 1, 2015 • 4:20 pm

Do not interrupt giant tortoises when they’re making the Beast with Two Backs! From YouTube:

In this video from a Pristine Seas expedition to the Seychelles, under way now, expedition leader Paul Rose stumbles upon mating giant tortoises on Assumption Island. The angry male pursues Rose and a cameraman … very slowly.

The only slower pursuit would be if you interrupted a pair of mating sloths.


h/t: Nathan

34 thoughts on “Observer interrupts mating giant tortoises, gets chased away at 1 kph

  1. I’ve observed giant tortoises mating on Alphonse Island, Seychelles, but I wasn’t chased away. (This video may be on Alphonse, but all the airstrips look more or less the same.) They make a lot of noise in the act.

  2. The male turtle forgot his Wheaties this morning for breakfast. If he hadn’t forgotten, he would be up to 1.1 kph.

  3. Don’t these jerks have anything better to do?

    Are there no authorities taht can run these idiots off?

      1. The tortoises were doing just fine until humans started interfering. I suspect interfering and disturbing these fine creatures must be illegal, and if it isn’t, it certainly should be.

    1. I’m sure the aim is to bring the wildlife virtually to a broad audience, maybe to inspire some enthusiasm for conservation.

      I did think he should have disengaged with the tortoise sooner, though.

  4. So tortoises don’t like to be interrupted once they get down to the fast strokes and heavy breathing (well, the heavy-breathing part, anyway)? Seems to suggest at least anecdotal evidence for a frustration-aggression-displacement link in the reptilian brain.

    1. “Tortoise interruptus” +1

      Saw a pair like this going at it at the Berlin Zoo on my honeymoon many moons ago. Over an hour later we passed by the tortoises again and they were still at it, with the female kind of drumming her nails and looking at her watch…

          1. I thought the advice the Queen Tortoise gives her daughters before they go off to mate is “lie back and think of the Seychelles.”

  5. It reminds me of a cartoon I saw somewhere of giant snails rampaging the city, and someone yelling ‘Amble! Amble for your lives!’

  6. A snail gets mugged by a couple of tortoises. The investigating officer asks for details but the snail says ‘It all happened so fast’

  7. The tortoise is called Terry (the Terror), and in the video he’d just tried to hump another male, not a female. He’s actually pissed off at humans all the time, and will chase them down with his formidable speed whenever he sees them.
    Unless they are carrying a stick, which they use to prod him off the landing strip on Assumption whenever one of the rare planes arr due to arrive. Which, in turn, explains his dislike of humans.
    The landing strip has some of the best grass forage on the island, and is a preferred grazing ground for the Aldabra tortoises living on Assumption.

    The tiny white hut you can see in the background is the ‘airport terminal’ – it has two doors, both of which have a sign saying ‘in’ above them. And, yes, once inside, there are two signs above the doors saying ‘out’. Island humour 🙂

    PS: And no, giant tortoises don’t have territories – alas 🙂

    1. Thank you for the explanation. I see this is a National Geographic video. Better science would have admitted they knew Terry could be filmed pursuing a human, and why that is, and what grass he likes to eat on the disturbed ground of the airstrip.

  8. Tortoises are determined and tenacious. My tortoise would find and exit and keep pushing on it until you opened it, then he would turn around and push the opposite way.

  9. If he caught him, what could the tortoise have done as far as damage? The common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) for example has a vicious bite and is not to be messed with lightly. My wife and I worked to remove one from a two lane road that he had strolled onto; we think he was trying to get from one part of the wetlands to the other side. He was nasty. I can’t find anything that tells me if the tortoise can harm a person or not.

    1. Lots of snappers around here. Last year I saw one on the road and stopped to help her (I am told it’s only the females that go wandering) across. I pick up other turtles but snappers I boot across. A woman driving the other way stop and got out of her car with what looked like a piece of broomstick. She waved it in front of the snapper and, when she struck, just dragged her to the side of the road. Those girls don’t let go when they snap.
      Come to think of it, I have some pictures of a snapper laying her eggs in the gravel by the road. I’ll see if I can find them and send them in.

    2. I suspect the tortoise could deliver a pretty painful bite with his beak. And of course, if you weren’t careful, he could really bowl you over.

  10. It seems likely that as long as the narrator was within range of the tortoise rather than within his “territory,” he was going to be pursued. Had he run away 10-20 feet at the very beginning, he probably wouldn’t have been chased at all, but since he basically kept continually-taunting the poor beastie just out of reach, said beastie responded by continuing to pursue him

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