I can’t speak for all species but I know that Russian tortoises and, from the experience of others, that Herman tortoises are generally very sociable with their humoms and dads. They will learn your voice, come when called, and learn to be comfortable being handled if you do it the right way.
That said, I think its not only about the breed of turtle or tortoise but very much about the individual. Every animal has its own personality and its own likes/dislikes. You’ve just got to get to know him or her and take their cues to heart when handling them.
When first adopted, you should ease into handling with a food routine. Let them get to know their new digs, get confident with the space, and get confident with you. Feeding is a good time for that to happen. When your hand comes into view they’ll first associate start to associate it with food, then learn that you aren’t a giant threatening arm of doom and you can pick them up without stressing them.
If you have appropriate housing and diet they’ll get comfortable and confident with handling pretty quick.
Some tips I can think of (for tortoises at least):
- Look for signs of stress like: head bobbing, urination, shrinking back in shell
- Ease into handling with shell newbies and use your instincts to know when you’re little shell is done with human kind for the day.
- Too many hands at one time can be stressful and overstimulating, so keep an eye on em when sharing the shell love with kids/friends/family.
- Hold them in a way that makes them feel secure and that gives you a secure grip on them when they kick their little arms and legs out. They wiggle!
- Dropping can severely injure them so be careful! (and careful with who you let hold them!)
That’s my 2 cents on the subject, I hope it helps!
Again, not a vet or certified anything. In the wild these animals exist on their own and aren’t handled at all and many will say handling as little as possible is the way to go. I find that working under the above rules has worked well for Zoya and me.