Won’t They Be Afraid?

By   December 14, 2015

Won't They Be Afraid-

 A natural concern for people new to the idea of tortoises sharing the desert with Hardshell’s rovers is for the reaction of the tortoises to these foreign entities. Many people have asked, “Won’t the tortoises be afraid?” I have spent hundreds of days following tortoises around, recording their behavior at close quarters. It is pretty amazing how quickly these wild animals will accept something as threatening as a human being in their vicinity. As long as you move slowly and keep a proper distance  —  this being decided by the tortoise and varying between individuals  —  you can look all you like.
As we created the rover I figured that since it is much smaller than a human being- about tortoise size in fact- moving slowly- about tortoise speed- and presenting no threat to the animal that the Guardian Angel’s presence will be quickly accepted by them. This has been the case in every test we have run. The tortoise spends a few minutes in vigilant examination of the rover. As the vehicle moves around it provokes mild startle responses. Then comes a moment when curiosity overcomes caution and the tortoise approaches the rover for a sniff. Always a sniff test and always one of the tires. After that, the tortoise loses almost all interest in the rover.Now we have the perfect observation platform- ignored by the subject of our interest. The Guardian Angel Rover will provide a new perspective on the life of the desert tortoise. Discoveries await.

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2 Comments on “Won’t They Be Afraid?

  1. Virginia White

    I love this! I have a desert tortoise that I have had for 20 years, since she was an egg. She isn’t really afraid of anything, just really curious. My grandson, Eli White was instrumental in designing the rover. I couldn’t find a like button on the share, and I wanted you to know that I really like this!

  2. Tim Shields

    Thanks for the comment, Virginia. One of the charms of wild tortoises is that they are frequently as boldly curious as your pet. It must have something to do with bearing stout armor but the curiosity serves a purpose for an animal that will live for a century and that benefits by learning. And that is what I expect to see when we have the rover in the field with wild tortoises: they will check it out intensely for a bit, deem it harmless and then ignore it. Thereafter we will have an amazing window on their lives- an eye level view from four feet away!

    By the way, stay tuned for a post on your grandson, Eli. I am going to do a series called “Hardshell Heroes” and he is certainly one of them.

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