The club tortoise a lesson

Well, that was disconcerting.  Tortoise Club was a presentation by two vets who specialise in reptiles and exotic animals, both with a particular affection for tortoises, who spoke about diseases.  Darlings, we’ve been through worms, gout (who knew?), chlamydia, liver failure, follicle stasis (something like that, I got a bit lost) and being egg-bound.  Not to mention the poor tortoise who was attacked by a dog and had to have a leg amputated.  She’s doing very well, they attached (superglue?) a set of Lego wheels to the underneath nearside corner of her shell and she whizzes around nicely, especially around corners, where she can turn on the proverbial sixpence, like a taxi.

I am glumly resigned to having Edweena live in the drawing room with us from January, it’s clear that it’ll be too long for her to sleep until the weather is warm enough for her to go outside.  Assuming she lives so long, that is.  I didn’t quite realise how much illness tortoise flesh is heir to.

Having arrived home half an hour ago, I’ve rapidly polished off a piece of raspberry cheesecake and ice cream, a glass and a half of red wine and four pieces of salt liquorice.  Oh, and a bit of local cheese.  I’m not sure that a very modest, early dinner is a good idea.  Now I’ve made tea, but milkless, sugarless, weak Lapsang surely hardly counts as anything?  Since he asked, persistently, I gave Ben a bit of liquorice – not a whole piece, just a little bit.  He was deeply unimpressed but it stuck right in his teeth and he couldn’t spit it out.  It was very funny.

As was Tortoise Club, in the end.  I started by being disconcerted, then alarmed, then horrified. But the picture of the poor dog-savaged one with the wheel for a leg brought on an unsuitable attack of levity and the sight of the unshelled eggs removed from the one with follicle stasis or whatever it’s called when they just sit there, a cluster of yolks with a single complete egg attached too, left me open-mouthed, especially when the vet said that, though her ovaries had been removed, reptiles were unusual beasts that could regrow almost anything, so she might lay eggs in the future.  Oh, and that milk thistle is good for a sick liver, but the tincture you get from the chemist contains alcohol so you both heal the liver and give it cirrhosis, both at the same time.  Then I chortled shamelessly.

5 comments on “The club tortoise a lesson

    1. Mike Horner

      Ann’s family had a tortoise when she was a child (can’t remember whose it was – I’ll ask). It had a hole drilled through the edge of its shell so that it was attached to a long light chain staked to the centre of a large lawn. When it got sleepy towards the end of the year you found the chain, followed it to its outer end and the tortoise, unhitched the chain and put it (the tortoise that is) away in a cardboard box with lots of leaves till spring. It didn’t seem to me the most interesting animal to keep.
      P.s. Ann says she thinks it was her father’s.

  1. janerowena

    I was bought a tortoise as a child, and have to confess to being rather pleased when it wandered off one year. It had been marked on the shell, and two years later I saw it munching the front garden of a neighbour. I decided it was doing perfectly well without me.
    I have just caught up – re your remarks about the windows opening inwards, almost 40 years ago I went to stay in the countryside with a dutch/belgian couple. Their windows were removed completely, so that each autumn frames with glass were slotted into grooves and held in place with clamps. Come Spring, they were replaced with frames containing a very fine mesh to keep out the insects. It was mesh time still when I was there, in early October, and I froze and was too ashamed to ask them to put the glass in!

  2. nick

    What an extraordinary image of the tortoise whizzing around on its Lego wheels! I shan’t be able to get that out of my mind now! I also had no idea tortoises could get so many illnesses. Somehow they always seem very robust because of their tough shell. Appearances can be deceptive as usual.

  3. Z Post author

    Everyone who had a tortoise is puzzled that it all seems so complicated now. I don’t know, Edweena stopped eating in mid September and it does seem a long time until it’ll be warm enough for her.
    What was clear was their very slow metabolism, if they are not well it may take a long time for it to show. On the other hand, at least you have time to work out the correct treatment. And there is evidence of in-breeding because they aren’t imported any longer, which has given rise to some health problems, not only in tortoises but other reptiles too.


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