Saturday Paws–or maybe just some stubby clawed feet?

Sophia and Darwin, both three years old

Well, Beth had a very busy week and is home spending quality time with Ruffles and Mae-be.  She’ll have more to share about them soon, but she’s not the only one with interesting pets!  We have a Sulcata Tortoise, also called an African Spurred, and although he (I think he’s a he) isn’t particularly perky, shows zero outward expressions of affection, is unresponsive to instruction of any kind AND he doesn’t do any tricks, I still think he’s a fascinating creature.  To each his own!

Darwin (isn’t that a great name for a tortoise?) was a birthday gift three years ago.  My interest in purchasing this little guy coincided with the birth of my granddaughter, Sophia, who was only five months old.  Somehow I envisioned a long and respectful relationship that would span many years, taking pictures over time with grandchildren getting older and the same pet year after year.  I romanticized some version of reality and future, I suppose.

What I did NOT do, was envision how big he would become.  In my defense, I had talked about the tortoise but had not thought my family would follow-through on the purchase–and none of us had done any homework!  A bit of context on that story.  I already had a boxed tortoise.  We found Rocky in our garden many years ago, and over ten years he has hardly grown at all–he’s approximately the size of a baseball.  So when I met fifty-cent sized Darwin at the pet store I just theorized that sure, he’d grow, but we wouldn’t be talking Galapagos Island here.

Darwin joins the family

Rule #1.  When purchasing a pet, ANY living creature, do some appropriate research!  Sulcatas grow to be very large creatures, requiring a fair amount of habitat consideration.  In the first year he quadrupled his size, and each year thereafter he has at least tripled, to where he now weighs about twenty pounds and is the size of a basketball.  My husband, who must occasionally retrieve him from the huge burrows he digs and buries himself into, says that Darwin is well on his way to being the size of a beach ball.

Oh, and you must hear about his care requirements!  Well, Africa is hot.  Southern California may not get Chicago cold, but we have long winters with cold nights and there’s rain, too.  So guess who’s building a complete outdoor heated home for Darwin?  And he currently eats at least one head of romaine and a jar of baby food daily…and since he’s no longer considered an infant we are introducing chopped broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and forms of grass and hay.  Sounds like we have a small pony, doesn’t it?

Karina feeding Darwin

Karina feeding Darwin

The truth of it is, despite the obvious concerns about taking adequate care of his ever-increasing needs, he is part of the family, and we enjoy him.  The little girls look forward to visits and taking turns with his feeding and care.  He burrows deep into the earth and they eagerly await his coming out, and for just those special moments we will continue to do our best to be good caretakers.  I don’t see us downsizing our home any time too soon.  It’s hard to keep a forty-pound (we may need a saddle!) tortoise on a patio or small balcony!

Enjoying Saturday, Debra

One thought on “Saturday Paws–or maybe just some stubby clawed feet?

  1. Pingback: Garden planning with the family reptile! A lesson in sharing. | breathelighter

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