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

My Interior Decorator is a Tortoise! by Elaine A Powers Author

Because tortoises are free-roamers, they help with designing interior décor. Their specialty seems to be rearranging.

My desk chair is on wheels, a very practical design for me.  However, sometimes I’m typing on my laptop when I feel the chair moving away from the table.  Myrtle Red-foot Tortoise has put her head underneath the wheel frame and is pushing. She’s strong enough to move the chair with me on it! If I’m not sitting on the chair, I see it moving across the room.

A Red-foot tortoise pushing a desk chair on wheels away from table
Myrtle Red-foot tortoise can push my wheeled chair even when I’m in it!

And it’s not just my chair that moves. The iguana enclosure in the front room is also on wheels. I find Calliope rolled across the room.  She probably enjoys the change of scenery.

The red-foots are reasonably sized tortoises. Sulcata or African spur-thighed tortoises (Geochelone sulcate) like Duke tend to fall on the large side of the scale.  He’s currently 120+ lbs. The impressive spurs on Duke’s forearms are used for protection, but also for digging through hard ground to create underground dens. Those spurs are also very effective in digging through dry wall, doors, and pretty much anything he wants to get through. Sulcatas can dig dens that are 30 feet long and 20 feet deep.

Looking down at a 120 lb Sulcata Tortoise that takes up the whole bathtub
Duke is so big (over 120 lbs), he takes up the whole tub!

Duke lives in the reptile room along with iguanas housed in wire enclosures.  I have put the enclosures on wheels so Duke can roll them around as opposed to knocking them over. People wonder why the stuff in the room is arranged as it is – because that’s the way Duke wants it.  He has created his own den areas and even cleared a basking spot.

A silver-colored metal plate is installed across the bottom of a red-brown wooden door (to keep a Sulcata tortoise from digging through the door)
Metal panel placed across bottom of door. So far, Duke hasn’t dug through it.

I love the adventures (and the occasional mystery or two!) and wouldn’t have it any other way.

LPP NOTE: Because Myrtle’s name rhymes with turtle, she was often called Myrtle the Turtle. One day, she asked Elaine to write a book about the difference between turtles and tortoises. The result is a favorite rhyming book of little ones, Don’t Call Me Turtle! Did you know there are at least ten differences between them?

Posted on Leave a comment

Trevor the Turtle has a Crush on Myrtle the Tortoise by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Trevor is a male Eastern box turtle and Myrtle is a female red-foot tortoise. Myrtle is at least four times bigger than Trevor. Being a tortoise, she has a dense shell, while Trevor’s—though domed—is very lightweight. Trevor has a crush on Myrtle: She’s older, gorgeous, interested in what’s going on around her and interesting.

A box turtle approaches a red-foot tortoise, on a tile floor
Trevor, a box turtle, approaches his crush, Myrtle, a tortoise.

Trevor may be small, but he is determined. He seeks Myrtle as his mate. Myrtle, of course, cannot be bothered. He’s a small box turtle, for Pete’s sake! Trevor apparently believes that persistence will pay off and likes to follow her closely. When he gets too close, Myrtle usually wanders off, but if Trevor really annoys her, she turns around and flips him onto his back. And there he rocks with his flailing legs.

A red-foot tortoise faces an Eastern box turtle, on a tile floor.
“Back off, Trevor!” Myrtle says.

Now, Myrtle could just walk away, allowing Trevor to right himself, but she doesn’t. She enjoys spinning Trevor around and around, like he is a top!

A red-foot tortoise has flipped an Eastern box turtle onto his back. Then she spins him.
“I warned you, Trevor!”

This slows Trevor down for a while—but, as we all know, the heart wants what the heart wants. 😊

For supplemental information about turtles and tortoises, please see our 23-47 page Workbooks for children, grades Pre-K through 4th.

Posted on Leave a comment

Our New Category: Living with Reptiles

We’re starting a new category for posts at Tails, Tales,Adventures, Oh, My! today. We’re calling it Living with Reptiles.

I Live with a Menagerie of Reptiles, by Elaine A. Powers, Author

People think living with mammals or even birds is perfectly normal, but tell people you live with reptiles and they look at you strangely. I don’t understand this. Dogs bark, cats meow, and birds squawk. Fish might seem quiet but then you have the noise of the bubbler. Reptiles make the perfect, quiet pets and most sleep through the night right along with you. What could be better than that?

I do have stories to tell.

Tortoises Noises are Targeted—At Me!

I know I just said reptiles make quiet pets, but there are always exceptions to the rule.

I have a creep of red-foot tortoises roaming around my home. (Creep is the collective noun for tortoises.) You can hear the slik, slik, slik sound of their feet moving on the tile, but red-foots are known for being noisy breathers. And I don’t think it’s just breathing—I think they are talking to each other. When I get home after along trip, when I’m travel-tired and trying to fall asleep, they gather beside my bed and whisper to one another for . . . hours. I’ve decided that means they’re happy I’m home. I am happy to be home—I miss them, too!

On a typical day, they allow me to sleep peacefully through the night—until dawn, that is, when they decide to scratch their apparently itchy shells on the metal frame of my bed. Back and forth, back and forth. This is a very effective way to encourage me to get up and prepare their breakfast salads.

A Red-foot tortoise crawling around inside a paper grocery bag
Myrtle the Red-foot Tortoise at home

The other day I was on the phone for an important business call.  I hear this loud, scrunching sound behind me.  Myrtle Tortoise had knocked over my paper grocery bag filled with other paper bags. She crawled inside, crunching the bags, crushing them, sliding them about, etc.  Needless to say, it was quite noisy. Because I had to focus on the call, I couldn’t go and grab her until the conversation was over.  As soon as I hung up the phone, Myrtle ceased her excavation of the bags.

“Just a coincidence,” I thought I heard her think as she strolled away. 😊

Elaine A. Powers is the author of Don’t Call Me Turtle, thanks to Myrtle, who asked her to write the book.