Response to Perceptual Novelty in Tortoises-A Preliminary Study

Anna Chrzanowska, Klaudia Modlinska, Rafal Stryjek, Wojciech Pisula


The ways of responding to novelty have not yet been thoroughly and comprehensively researched in reptiles, and studies undertaken so far have been conducted mainly on laboratory rats. The purpose of this paper is to present results of research carried out on the land tortoises Testudo hermanni and Agrionemys horsfieldii. Current research on tortoises as study subjects indicates that while undertaking environmental exploration these animals rely, to a large extent, on their sight, which is why this study employed visual stimuli to measure the tortoises’ response to novelty. In the course of the experiment, three objects were presented: the first imitated a biologically significant stimulus, the second was biologically indifferent, while the third was variable, and therefore perceived by the animals as novel. The results obtained suggest that the biologically significant and the variable objects elicited a response which involved the animals’ looking more intently at those objects than at the biologically indifferent object. It may be concluded, therefore, that tortoises have demonstrated exploratory responses which varied according to the object presented. While this study was only preliminary, the results obtained substantiate the view that tortoises may be interesting study subjects in comparative psychology.

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