Q: What do you get when you come across an African tortoise crossing the road?
A: An African tortoise as a pet for a couple of weeks!
A few weeks back my son and daughter were out for a walk and came across a tortoise crossing the road! Mind you, this isn’t’ the first time we have come across a tortoise crossing the road but this time we brought her/him home! We had no idea if this was a pet or a tortoise that was indigenous to the state and our area specifically. So we did some research and decided that more than likely this was someone’s pet.
While trying to track down the rightful owner, and going back and forth on whether or not to just keep the tortoise, after all I really really enjoyed her/him, I learned a few things from having the tortoise in my backyard.
Tortoises have a calming effect!
Having the tortoise created a calm in me that I found quite nice! I could be doing dishes at the kitchen sink or hanging clothes on the line and just smile when I saw her come out of hiding. She literally would stop me in my tracks! I enjoyed watching her as she moved effortlessly around the yard and would stop to enjoy a few minutes of sunbathing or munch on the grass. She didn’t seem to have much to worry about and took the dogs trying to figure out what she was, in stride!
Learning about African tortoises was fun!
I didn’t know much about African tortoises and having the tortoise became a learning experience for the kids and me!
– First we had to decide if we had an African tortoise or a Desert tortoise. After a quick internet search we discovered we definitely had an African tortoise because of the distinct spurred shell!
– Who knew that a five pound tortoise could produce poop the same size as a 20lb dog! My son quickly realized he wasn’t sure he wanted to pick up poop times three!
– We learned that the tortoise we found was a girl. If the under belly of the shell is convex, or goes out away from the center of the body, it’s probably a female. This makes way for the egg. If the shell is concave, going in towards the center of the body then the tortoise is probably a male. This makes way for easier mating!
– They enjoyed the water! We would give her a little time each day in a water bath so she could sunbathe and get replenish her fluids! She drank more water than I realized!
After a few weeks we did find the rightful owner. It turned out to belong to a neighbor who lives on the next block down from us! Talking with the owners, whom we had only ever waved to while driving down the street, was also an experience as we learned we had a lot of the same interests in common. While we were sad to turn our new tortoise friend over (aka Tonka), we were happy to put her back with her rightful owners and meet new friends along the way!
Til next time, be well!