DEC 02, 2019 3:52 PM PST

Do Tortoises Enjoy Being Touched by People?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Tortoises are one of nature’s most conspicuous animals – large reptiles that carry massive shells that protect their sluggish bodies from damage from larger predators. But despite popular belief, a tortoise’s shell is much more than just a hard, rock-like structure around their body, and they can actually feel it when you touch them.

A tortoise’s shell obviously isn’t as sensitive as its skin, but the animals are able to feel the tactile sensations that occur when someone pats, rubs, scratches, or taps it. This has to do with how the shell is physically attached to the tortoise’s body.

One thing that tortoises and turtles have in common is their tendency to recede into their shells when they feel threatened. In the proper care, however, most tortoises appear to enjoy being touched by their caretakers. In some cases, they extend their necks out while being touched or massaged – a sign that the animal wants to be rubbed some more.

Related: How does the Galapagos giant tortoise know when it's time to migrate?

As it would appear, these animals are a lot more open-minded to being touched than many would think.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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