Posted on Leave a comment

Ahhh, the Mysteries! Such as, How Many Tortoises Can You Stack in a Corner? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

several tortoises fighting for space in a corner of a roomThere 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Rain forest tortoise eating nectarineMeanwhile 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!

A children's book cover, green with a tortoise standing, coming out of a circle, finger pointed, saying Don't Call Me Turtle

Posted on Leave a comment

Who Likes a Bath? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

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.

A rock iguana soaking in a tubHere 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!

a yellow and green book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

To see all of our comprehensive educational activity sheets and workbooks, click on Our Workbooks.

Posted on Leave a comment

Differences Between Turtles and Tortoises? Many! By Elaine A. Powers, Author

A children's book cover, green with a tortoise standing, coming out of a circle, finger pointed, saying Don't Call Me Turtle

My first book in the Don’t Series explores the differences between turtles and tortoises. I tell everyone that my Red-foot tortoise asked me to write the book. I adopted her from another New Jersey family when I lived back East. That in itself is a story. We were both using the Mid-Atlantic Turtle & Tortoise Society to place or adopt. Eventually, someone figured out it would be easier for me to adopt directly from the family, instead of both of us making trips to Maryland. As a result, I ended up with a truly wonderful tortoise named Myrtle. Officially her name was Hebe Myrtle, but she really is a Myrtle.

Since Myrtle free roams in my home and was a companion for my elderly mother, she was always introduced to guests. When I said her name was Myrtle, people would inevitably say, “Oh, Myrtle the turtle.” No–she is Myrtle the tortoise. Consequently, the book about the differences between turtles and tortoises had to be written. Her inspiration resulted in a very engaging book, if I do say so myself. (Well, I’m going by fan mail, too.)

People think they know the differences between turtles and tortoises, but few do. It’s not simply that turtles live in water. Just ask my Desert Box Turtle, Ela. Odds are she’ll never see a body of water, or even flowing water. However, all turtles have the ability to swim. This swimming capability is reflected in the shell and limb structures.

Despite the similarities in their shelled bodies, there are behavioral differences between turtles and tortoises, too.

I don’t want to give away the many differences here, because I know you will love learning all about them them by reading Don’t Call Me Turtle to your little one. It’s written in rhyme—so you both can repeat what you’ve learned with some flair!

You can also explore the life-cycles and traits of turtles and tortoises in Lyric Power Publishing’s fun and educational workbooks. We really enjoy making science fun around here!

A light blue book cover with images of freshwater turtle and green sea turtle

a yellow and green book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

Posted on Leave a comment

August 1st is National Girlfriend’s Day by Elaine A. Powers, Author

August 1st is a day to celebrate your girlfriends. I’m certain they meant for it to be a day to celebrate your HUMAN girlfriends–please do celebrate your friendships and don’t let them become neglected. However, I’m celebrating my other girlfriends on this day.  Let me introduce a few.

closeup of a green iguana

This is Calliope, named for the muse of long poetry.  She is my inspiration for my writing, looking over my shoulder.  She is a green iguana.

This is one of my newest girlfriends, Button.  We’ve been building a very special relationship for two years now.  She lets me ride her bareback, so we have a physical connection to go with our spiritual one. She is a Missouri Fox Trotter.

woman sits with tortoise on her lap, reading a book

And last, but never least, this is Myrtle the Red-foot Tortoise. She made me write my very first picture book, Don’t Call Me Turtle!, when she’d been called a turtle one too many times. This picture book explores the differences between tortoises and turtles in rhyme and is a fun-favorite among little ones and their parents. Of course, Myrtle never tires of me reading it to her!

A children's book cover, green with a tortoise standing, coming out of a circle, finger pointed, saying Don't Call Me Turtle

For more fun and educational information about iguanas and tortoises, please see our workbooks and activity sheets.

 

a white and light blue book cover with an image of an iguana's head

a white and blue book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

Posted on Leave a comment

Never Say Scoot to a Scute! By Elaine A. Powers, Author

Some words are just fun.  One of my favorites is SCUTE. It’s pronounced like scoot.  Try saying is slow: scoooooot or fast: scutescutescute! Fun, right? I have turtles and tortoises to thank for introducing me to the word scute.

The word scute is from the Latin word scutum, which means “shield.”

The segments of the carapace, or hard-shell, of a tortoise are called scutes. Scutes are made of keratin, like your fingernails. They cover the bone of the turtle or tortoise, like our skin. I confess, I didn’t look closely at the scutes until I wrote my book, Don’t Call Me Turtle. I had discovered how turtles shed their scutes from my painted turtle, Tommy. But tortoises add material between the scutes, creating the appearance of tree rings.

I was surprised to find out that they all have the same number of scutes. Look at the photos below and you’ll see what I mean. A turtle is on the right and a tortoise is on the left.

looking down on the shell of a turtle
See the separate pieces, or scutes, of the shell of the turtle?
looking down at the shell of a tortoise
These are the scutes of the tortoise’s hardshell

 

How many scutes are there? The five scutes in the center are called vertebral scutes. Next to them are 8 costal scutes. Creating a fringe around the carapace are the 24 marginal scutes.

Okay, now that I’ve said all hard-shells have the same number of scutes, I have to mention the exceptions. Loggerhead and Ridley Sea Turtles have 10-12 costal scutes. They make room for the additional scutes by having an elongated carapace.

I hope you now appreciate scutes, not only as a fun-sounding word, but for the important purpose they play in the lives of turtles and tortoises.

To learn more about tortoises and turtles, please click on the books below. They are an economical, fun and interesting way to keep children happily occupied, while learning, during the hot days of summer.

a white and blue book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

a yellow and green book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

A seafoam green book cover about seaturtles, with an image of a Green Sea Turtle

A children's book cover, green with a tortoise standing, coming out of a circle, finger pointed, saying Don't Call Me Turtle

There are MANY differences between tortoises and turtles! That’s why Myrtle the Red-foot Tortoise asked me to write this book. It’s educational but written in rhyme and a lot of fun for both parents and kids.

Posted on Leave a comment

Why Does the Tortoise Go Out in the Rain? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

a tortoise on wet patio
Heading out to catch some rain drops!

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!

Here I am reading Don’t Call Me Turtle! to Myrtle.

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!

A children's book cover, green with a tortoise standing, coming out of a circle, finger pointed, saying Don't Call Me Turtle

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.

a yellow and green book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

Posted on Leave a comment

That’s One Hot–I Mean, Cool–Den, Cantata! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

As I write this post, my Sulcata tortoise, Cantata, is digging herself a den in my yard. She’s quite an impressive digger. This got me thinking about reptiles and the digging of dens. Why did she work so hard today?

I live in Southern Arizona, where the temperatures can be quite hot and the humidity quite low.  It’s a dry heat! One reason she dug the den was to find a cooler area. As a reptile, an ectotherm, she depends on the environment to maintain her ideal body temperature. I have lots of vegetation, but their shade may not be enough to keep her cool. So she must dig into the ground.

Just as we build houses upwards for protection, reptiles also create domiciles. They, of course, can’t construct a dwelling, so they utilize what their environment offers. Instead of a roof for shade, they dig a hole.

Bushy backyard plant; can barely see a large sulcata tortoise under the bush, digging a hole in the groundHere Cantata is digging away underneath a bush.

She did pick a good place to dig.  The ground in the Sonoran Desert is like cement, but the area by the bush is a bit softer because I water those plants, so the digging might have been easier for her.  I know the ground squirrels like to dig in that area.

Large Sulcata tortoise in Southern Arizona den she has just dugThe finished product. One day’s work ends with a comfy den for a large tortoise. 

However, this is rather shallow den.  These tortoises can dig 10 feet down.  I don’t mind her using the bush, as long as she doesn’t dig under the patio, foundation or wall. Being a summer den, this den will barely cover Cantata.  For winter brumation, she would need a much deeper den.

Along with protection from excessive heat or lack of water, this den could provide protection from predators.  However, I don’t think Cantata has to worry too much about other animals. She a big, well armored tortoise.

A few days after Cantata established her new home, my Sonoran Desert Tortoise, Zoe, discovered Cantata’s lovely den.  She wanted it for her herself, but Cantata wouldn’t leave.  I suggested Cantata go dig herself another den, but she won’t. She likes this one. She had dug it a bit deeper with time.  Now every night, they both cram themselves into the same den. Fortunately, it’s big enough for both.  A smaller tortoise, Flipper, hangs around the opening. I think she wants to join in, but she is too small to compete.

A hole in the ground under a bush is a tortoise denA well-dug den is, apparently, in high demand.

To learn more about these wonderful creatures, please see the Lyric Power Publishing workbooks all about tortoises. All of our comprehensive workbooks are displayed here.

a white and blue book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

a yellow and green book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

Posted on Leave a comment

Are Tortoises Cats with Shells? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Red-foot tortoise crawling into paper bag in kitchen
If only traversing this bag wasn’t so noisy, I could hide in here!

 

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.

Two red-foot tortoises trying to fit into a box on the kitchen floor
Hey, that’s my box!

 

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.a yellow and green book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

 

a white and blue book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

Posted on Leave a comment

World Turtle Day is May 23, 2019 by Elaine A. Powers, Author

A red-foot tortoise, showing top of shell and head looking back at photographer
Myrtle, the red-foot tortoise, doesn’t actually mind World Turtle Day.  After all, she is officially a member of the turtle family–well, as long as we all remember her book, Don’t Call Me Turtle! If we call her a turtle, there may be a wee bit of a problem…

 

World Turtle Day was started in 2000 by the American Tortoise Rescue. You see, all hard-shelled reptiles, even if they are soft-shelled, are called turtles. Even if they are tortoises.  I don’t think that is fair personally. Neither does my red-foot tortoise, Myrtle, who insisted I write the book, Don’t Call Me Turtle after she got tired of being called a turtle–especially because her name is Myrtle!

The purpose of World Turtle Day is to educate people about their role in protecting the habitats of turtles and tortoises. Their shell protects them from the hazards of their natural world, but turtles and tortoises fare badly in interactions with people. From loss of habitat, being crushed crossing roads, caught in fishing nets and drowning, and being eaten, it’s a dangerous world for these gentle creatures.  Okay, maybe snapping turtles can fight back, but the others are pretty helpless. They need our assistance.

Help celebrate the joy that turtles and tortoises bring to people every day. Enrich your life with one of these amazing animals.

A children's book cover, green with a tortoise standing, coming out of a circle, finger pointed, saying Don't Call Me Turtle
Yup, that’s Myrtle posing on the cover of Don’t Call Me Turtle! Every once in a while, Myrtle asks the author to read the story to her. Again.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Do All Turtles Have Hard Shells? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

Do all turtles have hard shells?  No, they don’t. Some have “soft” shells.

A Florida softshell turtle (Apalone ferox) swimming near the surface of a body of freshwaterPictured here is a Florida softshell turtle (Apalone ferox), native to the southeastern United States. This large turtle has a flat, pancake-like body, webbed feet, and a long neck which ends in a long head with a long nose. I looked across the lagoon to see several heads, but just the eyes and snouts above water.

In my book, Don’t Call Me Turtle, I describe turtles and tortoises having scutes, the individual panels of their hard shells. However, the softshell turtle’s carapace (the top shell) is cartilaginous, covered with a leathery skin. This the largest softshell turtle found in Florida, but more interestingly is that the females are often three-to-five times larger than the males!

Softshells spend most of their time in the water and can be found in freshwater and brackish environments, but they don’t like fast-moving water. They also enjoy burying themselves in the muddy substrate. There’s nothing quite as enjoyable as sinking one’s self into mud.

Even though they are omnivores, these turtles are significant predators in their ecosystems, feeding primarily on meat. The lagoon where I enjoy viewing the softshell turtles also has alligators. So, when ducklings were being eaten, the gators were blamed, of course. Usually softshell turtles eat small aquatic animals and insects, but now and then, ducks are on their menu. It’s not always the gators!

A children's book cover, green with a tortoise standing, coming out of a circle, finger pointed, saying Don't Call Me Turtle

Don’t Call Me Turtle is a fun children’s book written in rhyme that tells the differences between turtles and tortoises–and there are LOTS of differences!

For those parents, teachers and tutors using educational supplements, Lyric Power Publishing offers high quality workbooks on turtles and tortoises, for lower and upper grades.

A light blue book cover with images of freshwater turtle and green sea turtlea green book cover with an image of freshwater turtlesa white and blue book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

a yellow and green book cover with an image of a desert tortoise