Intentional environmental interactions

Today Rover did something I’ve been waiting to see: he scratched his shell by wiggling his bum against a hard surface!

I might have accidentally delayed this development by training him that booping my nose through the terrarium glass gets him back rubs.  Usually when he’s desperate for back rubs he pushes against the glass in my direction (and a bit noisily) until I come over and rub his back.  Somehow I doubt that he’ll reduce that activity, but at least I know he can provide for himself when I’m away.

I might not have delayed him, though.  He might be in a new stage of cognitive development.  I’ve noticed him intentionally moving things around as part of his path planning.  Previously it looked more exploratory and opportunistic than intentional, but recently I’ve seen him move items that were blocking his cave, enter the cave, and snooze—no diversions along the way.

Apparently there is some evidence of tool use in reptiles.  While crocodiles are one of the closest phylogenetic relatives of turtles, I doubt Rover’s going to do anything quite so clever.  Still, it’s interesting to see him continue acquiring new cognitive skills at his juvenile rate despite having reached adolescence.  I really have no idea how long it takes for turtle brains to be mostly-developed!  It is a joy to watch.

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