Who knew a bunny and a tortoise would require so much supervision? Darwin is at it again!

I am always so pleased when you ask me about Darwin. He has his own little fan club, and nothing could please me more. This time of year we watch him closely.

We may not have snow, but for the first time I got into my car the other day and the sensor flashed “Warning! There may be ice.”

OK…don’t laugh! That really was a the first time I’d seen that message. I didn’t even know the car had the capability to sense potential road hazards.

I don’t worry about the roads, but I do have concern for an African Sulcata Tortoise who needs consistent warmth. This time of year he needs a lamp and belly pad, protection from the wind and burrowing materials. He doesn’t leave the green house for days at a time.

Darwin under heat lamp

Pinky has a nice little condo, and we can easily  monitor her warmth. She has plenty of dry timothy hay, an upstairs covered room with a view and a very small cubby we call “the panic room.” If she’s concerned for safety, or presumably needs more warmth, she can hide out in a totally concealed space.

But here’s the story.

We moved Pinky’s condo the other day to a sunnier spot with the advantage of making her more visible from the kitchen window. We like monitoring her and making sure she’s doing well. (Can you imagine what we’d be like with a dog?)

Out came the sun–and so did Darwin!

“Oh boy! A friend! And a friend with carrots and kale!”

Pinky and Darwin

Oh great! Another engineering dilemma. I’d prefer a less cluttered view, but Darwin can push Pinky’s swinging door wide open!

Pinky behind bars

So now we block the door! There is an umbrella to keep exposed timothy hay dry, and a piece of old wood flooring blocks the door. Are we holding Pinky in, or keeping Darwin OUT! 


He still has a good view, and they can converse.

Pinky is just as interested in Darwin’s chow! She sits in the corner eyeing him with interest, probably imagining his outdoor freedom…and generous diet!

Darwin with broccoli

He doesn’t look wily, does he? He isn’t particularly mischievous. He’s just BIG, and very heavy. And when he wants something, he makes his wishes known.

When he first came to live with us, we never could have imagined how many adaptive measures would be necessary to keep everyone safe–and content!

Darwin joins the family

Darwin joins the family

And don’t let the sunshine in the photos fool you! Today is cold and rainy. Darwin won’t need my supervision, so I have a little field trip planned to follow another one of my interests. I’ll take my camera.

I breathe lighter when I take the time to shift gears from a week jammed with responsibilities and tight scheduling.

A little field trip today will usher in the weekend with a good exhale!

It’s your weekend, too. Don’t forget to de-stressify! 

67 thoughts on “Who knew a bunny and a tortoise would require so much supervision? Darwin is at it again!

    • We need to put Darwin on a scale soon, but I’d estimate him at about 30 pounds–and growing every day! I watched the evening news and saw some COLD weather your way, Kate! I haven’t yet been able to learn how far reaching the storm is up and down the coast, but it looks widespread to me! I hope you can stay warm and safe, of course! Do share about your weekend’s experiences when you can. oxo

      • I knew eating lettuce would make you fat! We were very lucky with the storm. I live an hour north of Philadelphia and we were on the edge. We got 4 inches of snow overnight and all the roads were cleared by morning. It’s cold and breezy but I believe New England go it much worse.

  1. I do love Darwin–quite the condo you have set up. I still would love to have a backyard tortoise…I imagine l would be moving boards and umbrellas too.

    • We do fuss over the animals, Alice, which at times is funny. A tortoise and bunny really can be left without too much care when we are gone for a short time, like a weekend, but we always arrange for someone to keep an eye on them. We almost took in a rescue dog last year and because we’re both still working I decided we couldn’t do it right now. I’m absolutely sure we’d be obsessed over it during the day! LOL! We have a much smaller box tortoise that lives his life mostly in a terrarium. He’s a sweetie and maybe a good choice for someone who isn’t quite as sure they want to provide for a tortoise that grows as quickly as a Sulcata. But Rocky, the little guy, has to stay in his terrarium because as an escapee he can really make tracks. We’ve lost him for days at a time! Thanks so much for stopping by today, Alice. I do hope you have a good weekend!

  2. I used your phrase at work yesterday. We’ve had a very busy six weeks and this past week was like a nice big exhale. No chaos. I’m ready for the weekend though. We’ve had a lot of after work/school activities this week (something each night). It’s time for us to plan a field trip too. I think I’ll work on that this weekend. So glad for the Darwin update today. I do just adore that guy. I’ve never known a tortoise with such personality. He is one assertive little guy. I love it! Have a great weekend Debra.

    • I’m glad you’re going to de-stressify with a good exhale this weekend, Kristy! 🙂 I completely understand how busy it gets with a young family. Of course, I remember when my own children were young, but either I’ve forgotten or just have a different awareness, but watching my daughter and family I do think there are more activities and life just moves faster these days. We all need an occasional break in that action! I do hope this weekend is reasonably quiet for your sweet family. I wish you were “here” so I could share a little Darwin time with the children! 🙂

    • I definitely use two hands when I need to move Darwin. Fortunately it’s rare that I need to pick him up, but when I do I am very careful. I think he weighs about 30 pounds, so he’s still not that hard to carry, but I worry that if he every tried to struggle, I could drop him. Give him another five years, though, and I might have trouble! 🙂

    • Hi Koji! Glad to have you stop by today. It did turn out to be a wet one, didn’t it! I like to show photos of Darwin every now and then. I like to show Darwin’s increasing size every now and again. I do hope you have an enjoyable weekend. I don’t think we’ll be doing too much. I like to stay indoors when it’s this cold. 🙂

    • I’m tickled you thought of Darwin and Pinky, Karen. They are a funny little duo. I love your comment about my blogging not being representative of some other pet owner/lovers. I have to use the same restraint with photos of my granddaughters. LOL! There’s that fine line… 🙂 Hope you have a good weekend…I just watched the national news and that is a BIG storm! oxo

  3. Oh I just love the Darwin and PInky stories! I wonder if you could even stage some visuals for the wonderful tale of the Hare and the Tortoise. I can imagine you setting it all up and capturing it for us to enjoy…. Please, Debra? 😀

    • Ha! You’re great, Natalie! I’m chuckling because I can totally picture YOU doing this. LOL! I’ll have to think about it. Pinky is always ready to run and would probably escape our yard if I’m not careful. Maybe if I brought them in the house? I can see it now…my family will know I’ve slipped a cog! 🙂

  4. What an interesting post – your text and photos are really wonderful. I had no idea a tortoise could push a door open or that they’d grow so fast. Is Darwin larger than he’d be in the wild?
    I think this would make a perfect children’s book 😀

    • Sulcatas are always very large, so I think he’s just about right. We have to watch him if he’s too interested in our outdoor fence. I think he could knock it over if he spent enough time trying! A children’s book would be fun sometime down the road. I’ll keep taking photos! 🙂

    • I actually took photos today from the car, I wasn’t driving, of the local mountains and I could see the storm and it was obviously snowing! These were the lower mountains where this is rare. I got quite excited–and returned quickly to my warm home! 🙂

    • Darwin is such delight and grows so fast! I would love to one day write a children’s book. I was a preschool teacher for many years and wish I’d had Darwin then. He’d have gone to school with me! 🙂 Pinky is very sweet, too, and sadly, our cockatiel, about 11 years old, died this morning. Our animals do live long, well-tended lives. I’m glad I can share them with my blogging friends! I hope you have a good weekend, Marie. oxo

    • I’m so glad you stopped by, Patricia. I had this idea that I’d like to get a tortoise when my granddaughter was born 5 years ago, the idea being that they live a long time and could grow up together. My family heard my “thoughts” and bought one without doing any research. LOL! So none of us were prepared for how big he was going to grow so quickly. He is 5 1/2 years old, and stands to grow a great deal more. He is quite the entertainer! I’m glad I could share with you. 🙂

    • I am so glad you stopped by to take a little peek at how big he’s getting. I do have a lot of photos, although I wish I had more from when he was small. I had no idea how attached we were going to become. Someday maybe I’ll do that book! I think it would be fun, even if I just put one together for my granddaughters! 🙂

  5. Every time you show “before & after” photos of Darwin I’m amazed. You sure do take good care of him. And Pinky has good reason to keep an eye on him. He’s got his eye on her food and is probably trying to figure out how large a fulcrum will be needed to move that umbrella stand out of the way. He’ll figure it out. He’s got plenty of time.
    Feel free to write about your star boarders as often as you like, Debra. You can count me as a fan.

    • I will have to share about Darwin again soon, John. I received an anonymous comment yesterday from someone advising that we needed to look into Darwin’s diet, suggesting he was getting too many greens and not enough calcium. We did some research on the warning today and learned we do need to make some changes. So all the care I’ve put into giving him “the best” is apparently not the best for him at this stage of his life. So now I’m really going to need to guard Pinky. If I take away Darwin’s broccoli and replace it with grasses, he may storm Pinky’s cage! 🙂

      • “Storm”? Now I’ve visions of Darwin “charging” Pinky’s cage, pole in foot, in an attempt to vault over the wood you’ve used to barricade her cage’s door. 🙂

  6. Dear Debra, I, too, was wondering how old Darwin was, but I read your response to “Patricia Sands” and discovered the answer: 5 1/2 years. Wow! To grow from that tiny individual in the palm of your hand to a 30 pound behemoth! I do so like to read about Darwin and Pinky and I’m like another of your reader–wondering what would happen in a race between the two of them. Peace.

    • I learned from another reader that we are over-feeding Darwin! Apparently he shouldn’t be eating quite so many fresh vegetables, and needs more grass and hay! I hope he doesn’t get irritated at us for taking away his favorite food. If he get into any other antics I’ll be sure to tell you! 🙂

  7. Oh, so sweet, Debra! You take such good care of those pets of yours. 🙂

    Our new car has spent a lot of time this winter warning us of potential ice. Such refinements of motoring are a revelation to us, as before we had to look at the road to be warned of ice. 🙂

      • I enjoy sharing photos of Darwin and Pinky, Perpetua, knowing that for most people they aren’t the most typical pets! At least Darwin is a bit unusual. We were at the pet store today purchasing some more of his alfalfa and I noted there were more baby Sulcata’s. I was so tempted! But I came to my senses before doing something impulsive. 🙂

  8. *sigh.. Darwin is my favorite, I can’t help it, he’s such a handsome little guy. I have to say, he looks like he’s quite perturbed that he can’t get into the cage.. and then he seems a bit mopey munching away on his own. Could it be love?? V Day is just around the corner?? xx

    • I recently learned that perhaps I’ve giving Darwin too much broccoli! I presumed it was good for him, but I need to direct him to more grasses and leaves. I have a feeling he’s going to be very irritated! Who knows what he’ll demand next? LOL!

    • I really enjoy sharing photos of Darwin, Claire. I have a hard time showing exactly how large he really is. Somehow in photos I don’t think he appears quite as large as he is. He will be six years old this spring. He is still just a baby! Can you imagine what another 10 years will bring? Ha!

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