Tortoises, Slow but Fun

Filed Under: Exotics

I love hearing about celebrities that care about animals, and the pets they've chosen.  I was watching Jimmy Fallon the other night, and Benicio Del Toro was talking about his pets.  They talked about his 2 dogs, an Aussie Sheppard and a banana loving St. Bernard.  And then they discussed his other pets, 2 tortoises.


When he described buying them at a pet shop in Vegas (they sell everything there) 12 years ago, I cringed.  Jimmy made a joke about coming home from Vegas with a couple of tortoises, which kinda struck home. Usually, when that happens, the animal quickly loses its novelty, and gets forgotten or rehomed. 


Interestingly, though, unlike the too numerous celebrities that buy a cool or trendy pet only to abandon its care shortly thereafter, he has kept and maintained them.  They are very large now, and live in his back yard (wouldn't we all love to live in a climate where you could keep a tortoise outside all year round?), and look very well taken care of and happy (maybe a little too happy in the video).


Tortoises are pets that can live a very, very long time, 60 years plus.  Some stay smaller, 6-10" up to 2-3lbs, while others can get up to 3 feet long and weigh 200 lbs!  Make sure of which one it is you are purchasing, because if spending a lifetime with a 200lb buddy is not what you were expecting, it can be hard to find someone else to take over the commitment.


There are habitats readily available for purchase for the smaller tortoises, that have appropriate lighting (they need UVB, and not just sunshine through a window, because glass filters out UVB), heating, shelter and water features.  For the larger animals, you can build enclosures for them fairly easily if you have the room.  And again, all the special UVB lighting and heat emitters are readily available.


Tortoises are easy to feed, there are prepared diets available, but most people use these only as supplements.  Having a tortoise can actually improve your diet, because having the fresh greens and veggies in the house for your pet means they are available for you as well!  One thing tortoises don't mind is sharing their food with their keepers, as long as both get enough to stay happy.


Tortoises don't have the same level of concern for salmonella that aquatic turtles do, yet it can still be a concern, especially if you don't keep them clean.  But cleanliness is easy, with regular water changes, and changing their bedding is inexpensive enough to do regularly as well. 


Some of Youtube's funniest videos star the Tortoise, searching "Tortoise" can reveal some interesting results.  Some of my favourites include chasing a cherry tomato, tortoises chasing dogs, and of course, the ever inappropriate mating videos, like the one that aired on the Tonight show mentioned above. 


Some people liken them to dogs, that live longer and are easier to walk.  These entertaining pets can be a delight, if given the proper care and treatment.

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