I have just enough time to give you a little Darwin update. Last week when it was so cold here in Southern California a few of you kindly asked about him. Thank you.
African Spurred Tortoises do not hibernate. It is important that they stay warm, so he has a year-round indoor home with lots of space in one corner of our greenhouse. We make sure he has plenty of fresh timothy hay for burrowing and a basking spot lamp providing added heat.
Darwin can come and go as he pleases.
Typically he walks out of his overnight sleeping area just as soon as the sun begins to warm the greenhouse.
Then he’ll slowly meander around the yard, spending the entire day doing whatever pleases him most.
Munching on plants…
Climbing and exercising…
and visiting with his garden friends.
Occasionally he gets a bit too adventurous and escapes! He’s disappeared in the past, although he eventually turns up. He’s a big guy and the neighbors are getting to know him, too.
But when the temperature plummets, our adventurous tortoise barely moves. In fact, I get a little concerned. When I knock on his shell coaxing, “Darwin, are you okay? Can you just give me a little sign that you aren’t in distress?” and he doesn’t answer me, I do get worried.
In years past we’ve brought him into the house, but he’s now so big and heavy it’s not practical and our best inclination is to maximize the warmth and comforts found in his little housing area and assume he’ll be fine.
But good news this past weekend.
After one solid week of very cold weather and noting that Darwin barely moved, it was a relief when the weather significantly warmed us up. All of us!
And as I looked out the kitchen window I was surprised to see two of our little buddies deep in conversation.
Mid-afternoon, when the sun is setting, Darwin heads home. His instincts are strong, and as soon as he senses the day’s end, he puts himself to bed.
It’s a good thing, because on the rare occasion he chooses to sleep under bushes instead of the greenhouse, I do try to “dig him out” and put him under cover, but it isn’t easy! He must weigh about 50 pounds at this point.
I admit that I worry about him this time of year.
I’m not crazy about the cold either, but for him, it can affect his overall health. Reptiles can contract pneumonia. He’s healthy and strong; however, and he is definitely provided regular warmth if he’ll just follow his instincts to stay indoors near the heat lamp.
However, if he doesn’t behave himself and adventures out on a cold and blustery day, I could provide him some added protection. Click HERE to see what I could consider!
Maybe in 2014 I could take up another hobby?
Just imagine Darwin with even MORE style and panache!