There are many mysteries in life, questions that we need to know the answers to.
Like this one: How many tortoises can fit in a corner?
And the follow-up question: how many tortoises can you stack on top of each other before they topple?
I don’t know the answer to these inquiries, but these girls are well on their way to solving these mysteries.
Meanwhile the smaller, smarter one, is off enjoying a bit of nectarine.
Do you know the differences between turtles and tortoises? And did you know the typical answer: “Turtles live in the water, and tortoises live on land,” is not that simple? If you want to find the answers to the question, How are turtles and tortoises different, you will certainly enjoy, Don’t Call Me Turtle! (That’s one mystery that’s easy to solve.)
It’s a fun, rhyming book and a favorite among the little ones–I get the most fan mail with their pictures about this book, along with notes from their parents telling me that they learned a lot, too, while reading Don’t Call Me Turtle!
Water is important to all reptiles. Some need a lot of water, like the tropical rain forest green iguanas and some less, like the desert dwelling Sulcata tortoises.
My iguanas get regular soakings, which they enjoy. Some like the shower, spraying them as if rain is falling, while others prefer the gently rising warm water of the tub. The red-foot tortoises also enjoy soaking this way. Ezra, an old green iguana, requires his daily soaks to maintain his internal health.
Here is Blue, a Cayman Blue-hybrid iguana, enjoying his soak.
But some reptiles don’t like to soak. One big one is Duke, my male Sulcata tortoise. Even though it is important for him to soak occasionally, he hates it. I mean, he really hates it. People tell me how tortoises love to soak and maybe they even float. Not Duke. He sinks like a rock.
I used to soak him in the bathtub until he reached 120 lbs. Then I kind of crushed my finger between him and the side of the tub. Since then, I fill the kiddie pool with warm water for him. I tried rinsing him with the hose as the water level rose. He didn’t like that, thrashing about, trying to climb over the edge.
I tried putting him into an already filled pool. Still he thrashed. I hoped he would calm down and just soak, but no, he tried to climb out every corner of the round pool. I described it like the agitating wash cycle of a washing machine.
Don’t worry, I always let him out after I’ve had a chance to scrub him clean.
Lyric Power Publishing offers an educational 44-page workbook on tortoises, full of fun activities and interesting information about these fun creatures. The workbook for children in PreK-Gr 1 is called My Book About Tortoises and is used by teachers, tutors and parents to supplement the education of their children. Check it out today!
To see all of our comprehensive educational activity sheets and workbooks, click on Our Workbooks.
In their native environment, reptiles use camouflage to protect themselves. I have watched green iguanas climb into foliage and completely disappear. I knew the iguana was in there, but I could not see her or him.
Consequently, I amused when the reptiles in my house attempt to hide.
Here is a box turtle hiding.
And a green iguana hiding in the bed where she knows she isn’t allowed.
Same with this rhinoceros iguana hiding under the sofa pillows, instead of her usual rock den.
I don’t mind that they don’t hide very well. The tortoises figure if their heads are under something, the rest of their body must be there, too. And, with the iguanas forgetting their tails are sticking out, it makes them easier to find.
Of course, it’s important to know where your kids are.
Lyric Power Publishing offers an educational 24-page workbook on turtles, full of fun activities and interesting information about these fun creatures. The workbook is called My Book About Turtles and is used by teachers, tutors and parents to supplement the education of children in grades 2-4. Check it out today!
To see all of our comprehensive educational activities, click on Our Workbooks.
I have a variety of iguanas in my house. Some normally climb in trees, some dwell among rocks. Those in my house live on towels. One thing I have noticed is that they all seem to like soft things, like pillows and cushions.
I’ve often wondered where in nature they would come across such soft items. I have no clue. But inside my house, they seek comfy places to rest. Here are some examples.
The above iguana also likes to sleep on a cat pillow in her enclosure. Everyone deserves a little softness in their lives.
Lyric Power Publishing offers an educational 30-page workbook on iguanas, full of fun activities and interesting information about these amazing creatures. The workbook is called My Unit Study on Iguanas, and is used by teachers, tutors and parents to supplement the education of children in grades 2-4. Check it out today!
I’m a busy person. There’s always something to do, someplace to be or someone to contact. But sometimes, a place or someone reminds me to slow down, to simply be in the moment. Recently, it was Stella.
Stella is an elderly green iguana from Bethlehem, PA. She was rescued from the streets after dogs had chewed on her four-foot tail. The tail was amputated and Stella recovered in my reptile rescue in New Jersey. Stella has been with me ever since. She is now in her 20s, pretty old for a green iguana. She tolerates me petting her.
This morning, I cleaned her enclosure and put her in the bathtub to soak. When I was done, I picked Stella up to return her to her nice clean home, but she reached out to cuddle me. Stella wanted to cuddle. She relaxed onto my shoulder, without trying to bite me, which is her usual action in that position.
So, instead of rushing her back to her breakfast, I sat down on the sofa. She let me pet her. When I stood up, she leaned in, so I sat down again.
Sometimes, merely being together is what is important.
It’s the start of monsoon season here in the Sonoran Desert. When the rain begins to fall, the tortoise comes out of her den. Why? Is it because she’s afraid the water will rush into her underground den and fill it up?
No, she comes out because it’s time to drink. The desert tortoise finds a depression in the ground where the water collects. Then she drinks and drinks and drinks until her bladder is full.
I’ve tried putting out dishes of water for my tortoise, but she won’t drink from a source where the water is still. Sometimes, I pretend to be a storm and rain down water from my hose.
It’s a truly wonderful thing when it rains in the desert. We should all be more like the tortoise and go out and drink it in!
If you’d like to know more about tortoises, check out my rhyming book, Don’t Call Me Turtle! My tortoise, Myrtle, asked me to write about the differences between turtles and tortoises because everyone kept calling her Myrtle the Turtle. She’d finally had enough! She likes her book a lot, perhaps just a smidge more than my young readers!
And check our our workbooks on tortoises and turtles at our Lyric Power Publishing Workbooks page. They are full of information, and have lots of fun activity sheets for kids (and adults like them, too, I’m told!) that help to pass the long summer days.
I travel with my reptiles because I love introducing others to all sorts of reptiles and sharing about mine. I believe it is harder to hate something if you meet it in person. Many people never have a chance to feel the smooth warm scales of a lizard or pick up a tortoise to feel the heft of her shell. I take a variety of reptiles to my talks so people can learn about the different groups.
However, that means I have to get them all to the classroom in one trip. The small box turtles easily fit inside a soft-side pet carrier, but how am I supposed to carry a 130-lb tortoise or a five-foot lizard, like Blue? I not only need something they’ll fit in comfortably, but it also must be convenient to carry, with either wheels or a shoulder strap. Most soft-sided pet carriers just aren’t long enough, even though the tails curl; and the big dog crates don’t have wheels or handles–they’re just big.
I saw this blue carrier for sale and thought it might work for my rock iguana, Blue. As described, it would have room for him with handy handles. And, it was Blue.
However, unlike the smaller pet carriers, it didn’t have a solid bottom, so it wouldn’t work for my large iguanas. So, I folded it up and stuck in storage. I didn’t know what I would use it for, since it wasn’t strong enough to stop a reptile determined to roam, but I just knew it would find a purpose in life.
A few months later, my friend Pam, as she headed out the door, mentioned that she needed a crate for her little dog, Roxie.
I said, “Hold on!” and retrieved the blue carrier.
Pam was thrilled that I just happened to have exactly what she needed and took the carrier home. Roxie is 12 and had never had a “cave,” so Pam wasn’t sure Roxie would use it.
A few days later a thank you note and this picture arrived in my email. She surely looks different than my reptiles do in the carriers, but I’d day the little terrier-mix looks pretty content, wouldn’t you?
I have a bunch of reptiles as pets, or family members actually, in my house. Some of my pets free-roam around my house, like dogs and cats. Some live in their own enclosures with roaming privileges inside and outside. And finally, some live outside all the time because they are natives. With 20-odd reptiles in the household, there will be interactions.
People think reptiles don’t have much personality, but they really do. Each animal is a distinct being with his or her own preferences and level of assertiveness. They are also very intelligent, they know the difference between people, and like to go where they’ve been told not to go. So it should come as no surprise that not all reptiles get along.
It’s to be expected that male iguanas might be aggressive toward each other, so they are kept apart. However, I did not expect the epic battles between Blue Rock Iguana and Duke Sulcata Tortoise. Iguanas fight by biting each on the backs of their necks. So Blue tries very hard to bite Duke’s back, but can’t get his teeth into the hard shell. Normally Duke would ram his opponent, but in this case, he tries to bite Blue back. All Blue has to do is lean to the side. Fruitless battles.
However, some of the reptiles are more effective at keeping Duke in his place. Zoe Desert Tortoise is not delighted when Duke comes outside and visits her yard. She will chase him around, nipping at his back legs. He weighs around 130 pounds, while she tops out at 20.
Zoe does get along with Ela, Desert Box Turtle, even allowing her to share her hibernaculum. And Ela shares Zoe’s defensive tendencies of the yard. Here she is charging at Ezra Green Iguana, when he was just out enjoying some sun. Ezra, who is elderly, had to keep inching away from his attacker.
Lest you think my household is filled with hostility, many of my reptiles get along just fine. The female Red-foot Tortoises find Duke quite attractive, and he likes all females.
Many of the reptiles have formed inter-species friendships, such as some of my tortoises and iguanas. Here are Rose Tortoise, Krinkle Spiny-tail and Ezra Green Iguana sharing some morning sunshine.
I often see photos of cats playing with paper bags and cardboard boxes. Domestic cats, and even tigers, playing with bags and boxes. These objects make great hiding places and objects for pouncing upon, perfect for solitary play. Feline aficionados claim that playing with paper stimulates cat brains.
So, do the attraction and benefits of bags and boxes prove true for tortoises, as well? I keep a bag of paper bags beside my refrigerator. This proves irresistible to my free-roaming tortoises.
They knock it over, crawl inside, pull the other bags out and slide them around the kitchen, having a great time for hours. However, their enjoyment of paper products is not limited to bags. Boxes are also great fun.
Crawling into boxes can be a solo or a group activity. I have them placed in corners around my house so they don’t get bored with limited locations. This also helps in preventing wall damage when they feel like digging a den.
I’d never thought my tortoises played before I put cardboard boxes on the floor. Now they spend their days romping in bags and boxes just like cats!
Publisher’s Note: Following are comprehensive supplemental workbooks for children , Pre-K thru 1st and 2nd-4th grade, all about tortoises. Keep summer boredom at bay with the many fun and interesting pages and projects inside our workbooks. Today is a good day to learn all about tortoises and help keep your children’s reading, vocabulary and math skills fresh.
That’s because I share my home with box turtles, Trevor And Ela. I’ve had Trevor (Terrapene carolina) for a long time. He was given to me by a co-worker when I lived on the East Coast. He had been passed from family to family to family. She gave him to me to stop the passing. She knew I’d keep him. But I did contact the state about what I should do with him, since he could be a native. Because it could not be determined where he was from, I was told to keep him in captivity. I tried to donate him to a breeding program for his happiness, but he was from the wrong state as far as we could tell. So when I made the cross-country move, Trevor came with me.
I’d been in Tucson for several years, when I was asked to take in a Sonoran Desert Box Turtle(Terrapene ornata luteola). She had been kept in captivity and needed a new home. Fortunately, I have a secure back yard, so Ela joined my Sonoran Desert Tortoise in the backyard. They even brumated together.
Even though Trevor and Ela are both box turtles, they are very different. Trevor’s favorite food is snails, while Ela wants nothing to do with them. They do both enjoy a juicy strawberry.
Have you ever wondered why they are called box turtles? Unlike most turtles which have a sleek shell, streamlined for swimming, the box turtle has a high dome, more like a tortoise. This reflects their more terrestrial lifestyle. With no water to escape into, box turtles have developed a different defense against predators. Box turtles have a hinge on the bottom shell, the plastron. Not only can they pull their head, limbs and tail inside but they close up the shell to form a “box.” It’s much harder to find a bit to eat when your meal is hidden inside a hard shell.
Learn about our latest science-based children’s books and workbooks. Read here about reptiles, birds, cats in a variety of locations. Read the blog to learn how the books come to be, what inspires an author to write, and many more interesting aspects of the publishing business.
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