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.