Thursday, July 10, 2014

Turtle, Turtle, Awkward Turtle.

I was going to write some symbolic, pretty word-filled post about the tortoises today. Maybe something about slowing down and loving life. Maybe about how we all have a shell in which we hide. Maybe how we should all eat our greens. 

But then, I realized the tortoises would steal the show. And I thought, that's what I want for them. Because they're so cute and cool and cuddly. I lied, they're not cuddly. 

Where did these sweet shelled creatures suddenly arrive from on Mr. Thomas and Me? The truth: they've been around Mr. T longer than me. However, Charlie, the Instagram Tortoise, arrived Monday in a box on our #ThomasHouse porch. Seriously. Usually, there's shoes or a book from Amazon, instead, on Monday, a tortoise.

I decided ya'll deserved some fun facts about Charlie and his relatives for your next cocktail hour or stint on Jeopardy, because tortoises are often hot topics of conversation and quiz shoes. 
He's a Sulcata or African Spur Tortoise and he'll get to be pretty damn big (like 150 pounds or so). How'd we end up with Charlie in a box on our porch? I blame the man that I married and his dad. You see, my father-in-law has a whole backyard of turtles (the water ones) and tortoises (the land ones). He's got big ones and little ones. Social ones and shy ones. He rescues them, takes them in, makes them another piece of the family. And, Charlie was no exception. Charlie was surrendered, of sorts, on our door step to find a yard big enough to hold his big personality (<--- that's me exaggerating). 
Turns out Mr. T and me come from random animal loving people. His dad with the turtles, my mom with the chickens and pig. And, while I'm not allowed to have any chickens or a pig of my own, we are contemplating if we could make it work with a tortoise. I wanted Charlie -actually he's most likely a her or so Jason thinks she is- but she's a bit too small for our liking with Hazel's wild ass. So, Charlie will live with my mom and, with luck, we'll get a bigger one from his dad.
That boy that I'm petting there (I think his name is Alex, though it might be Gus) is a solid 50 pounds larger now than he was in 2009 when that picture was snapped. Yes, you can pet tortoises -specifically Galapagos and Aldobra (that's their species not their name). Both species have little to no natural predators, thus, they aren't afraid of you. Tick birds also keep their skin -what little of it shows- clean from bugs and such. Little tortoise brains think you're keeping them squeaky clean. Who doesn't love that so fresh, so clean feeling? 
Yes, tortoises live forever. Well, not forever, but at least 50 years if not closer to 150. Talk about a family heirloom. Mostly, this happens because they're DNA doesn't degenerate like ours. Nope, they aren't worried about wrinkles or sagging or loss of libido. They're just worried about finding their next bit of greens. Speaking of greens, they eat lots. Mostly the grass, but spinach, bananas, carrots, apples, strawberries, cactus and tomatoes too. Their water comes from their food, so there isn't a tortoise stampede at the watering hole. 

Your last fact for the road: they don't get hot and exit their shell, despite what cartoons told you as a kid. In fact, their shell is attached to their skeleton. 
Now that I've got you all hot on wanting one of your own, take a cool bath and give yourself a break... Just like this red-earred sliding guy. 

29 comments:

  1. Those are huge turtles! I can't believe it. Also, I wish my dog would live 150 years and I could pass her on to my kids because she's just that awesome :)

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  2. I've always always wanted a turtle. A little one anyway. I can't imagine seeing one that big. I guess you just don't see those around here. I love learning about turtle facts!

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  3. Holy moly, that guy (Alex or Gus) is so big! I've never seen a turtle that large except at the zoo. How cool!

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  4. Ok dumb question: Do their shells grow with them…unlink hermit crabs who find new ones? I'm intrigued but yet a smidge afraid of the big one

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  5. Aw, we used to have a red-eared slider when I was a kid! The giant tortoises are so cool.

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  6. So cute! I'm reading this at my brother's and my nephews are obsessed with all sorts of turtles. I showed Nick (he's 6) your pictures and he loves them sooooo much. "Auntie, when can we go there and pet them with her?" :-)

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  7. They're SO CUTE!!! I want to come play with your tortoises and turtles and also Hazel. Oh, and you, of course.

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  8. Ok, so now I totally want to rescue one. Provided, of course, that it wouldn't try to eat Deacon.


    -Kate
    www.theflorkens.com

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  9. I NEED A TORTOISE. Thank you (my husband might have other words for you)

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  10. Oh my gosh, Amber! This is the coolest post!! I love them already and would totally try to snuggle one. So where do they sleep (outside, I'm assuming)? Do they have little turtle houses with their names on the outside?! (I would totally do that) And how have you not talked about this until now?! Have you talked about this before now?! (I need answers, lady!)

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  11. SAME, Cassie! (I mean how do you even start that convo?)

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  12. If someone has ideas I am taking suggestions!!!!

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  13. It would go like this, "But AMBER has a turtle!!!"

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  14. Turtles are some seriously fascinating creature. We had one for like a week when I was little before we gave it to it's "forever home".

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  15. we had a tortoises for about a year! He just wandered into our friends house (she found him under her bed one day) but she couldn't keep him. So we took him and he lived in our backyard for about a year before he moved on to the next family.

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  16. I have the same sentiments about Hazel... Though I can't imagine dealing with all her attitude in old age... :)

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  17. Girl, they're so fun. They come in all kinds of sizes so committing to the GIANT ones isn't necessary because, WHOA. :)

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  18. It's so surreal to walk into his dad's backyard and have them be so friendly... We're seeing them again this weekend and I am going to have to take another picture because he's grown SO MUCH in the last few years. :)

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  19. Their shells are actually part of their skeletal system... Believe it or not. The underside is fused into their rib cage so it just grows as the internal organs need more room to accommodate them.


    The shell also has feeling (similar to someone rubbing your fingernails) so when you rub it the friendlier ones will stand up (kind of like a happy dog).

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  20. Oh the sliders... Jason's dad has SO MANY that I'm sort of grossed out by them now. (all truth be told)

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  21. Oh you're ALWAYS invited! :) We are going to the turtle and tortoise show this weekend so I'll post some more pictures for you!

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  22. Oh how overwhelmed you would be... Not so much by the tortoises as by Hazel. Oh, and me too, of course! :)

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  23. Oh girl, they're SO MUCH FUN. I mean, SO MUCH.

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  24. @Ember Grey. too.... You tell him they're low-maintenance. Because, they are. They need warmth and dark leafy greens, but they love basically anything and everything that would go into your compost --> like watermelon or strawberry tops or the ends of cucumbers and zucchinis or old bananas (complete with peel). Yes, they're so low-maintenance.


    You also don't have to worry about them when you go on vacation because, well, they eat grass and stuff so they'll find food to keep themselves all good while you're gone!

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  25. They sleep in little insulated houses that the boys built for them because, well, they can get cold at night. (They live in tropical areas naturally so cold isn't good for them) In the winder there are heat lamps running in their houses to keep them warm and cozy, but in the spring and summer there's lots of outside time!


    I really haven't talked about them much before... Other than that Jason used them as a pick-up line.


    We have the Turtle and Tortoise show this weekend (seriously) so I might just have to add a follow up post about this all! :)

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  26. And by forever you mean the next family that loves it until it gets too big and bad then they pass it along... They're like heirlooms passed around all kinds of places.


    I've got Jason's dad on the hunt for one for us to have... Though Jason isn't yet sold. Poo.

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  27. OH MY SOUL. A tortoise under my bed might send me straight into crazy. Though I can think of worse animals to find... :)


    Isn't it funny how they sort of just move on?

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  28. this is just what I needed to complete my defense

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