Z versus Edweena

A middle-aged tortoise can be a stubborn and wilful beast.

The tortoise home in the porch measures about 4 foot by 8 and the two sides are about 2′ high, with the other two sides being wall (one with glass panes above).  All three tortoises were moved in there last September – I’d planned to put them outdoors in the day and bring them in at night, but circumstances made a few short cuts necessary and I simply kept them indoors, using their sun lamps as necessary.  I’d not kept the three together before and I was a bit concerned, but it was fine.  The three lived perfectly amicably.

Since hibernation, I’ve had the babies in a big plastic box, decked out with earth, gravel, bigger stones and plant pots, in the kitchen, until a week ago when I put it out in the porch.  My idea was that I’d acclimatise them for a few days, then put them out in the run, and this is what I did.

They both scurried straight under a large piece of bark and stayed there for 24 hours.

I fetched them out, offered them food and kept an eye on them.  They ate a bit but then went and burrowed in the sand in the adjoining vivarium.  the next day, I got them out again and this time one of them set out for a walk, but the other tucked herself behind a pot by the wall.  A few minutes later, I saw Edweena go over and have a good sniff at her, then turn her shoulder on her and give a barge.  I wasn’t sure if she’d do any harm if left, but I didn’t want them bullied so I set up their plastic box again and all has been peaceful since.

This morning, Edweena decided to go between the box and the wall, where there isn’t room.  She was determined and went sideways and scrabbled determinedly – she’s very strong for her size.  I moved her and she was back within minutes.  And in her forceful struggles, she’d had an ‘accident’ and stepped in it.

So, I mopped her up, moved her and she went straight back.  I was getting irritated by this time, but there’s not much you can do with a disobedient tortoise.  I decided that she needed a bath at least, she was a bit smelly.

In the next 20 minutes or so, she pooed in her bath three times, the tots did in theirs twice.  It was ludicrous.  I shifted the tots’ box away from the wall but still under the lamp, cleared and tidied their runs and put in fresh water.  Every few minutes, I had to keep changing their bath water.  They like baths well enough but it does stimulate their bowels and bladders.  At the end, I couldn’t be bothered to go and pick weeds, so they were fed on lamb’s lettuce and rocket, which they scoffed happily.  Edweena gave every impression of being disappointed by her obstacle being removed, but later went to explore underneath the box, where there is now a few inches’ gap.

Zerlina and I have blown more eggs and she’s painted them, we’ve made fruit cake and two more loaves, smaller ones this time.  I used part white, part multi-grain flour, kept the dough cool enough to rise quite slowly and the result was delicious.  I’ll have z again on Thursday and I’m planning to make hot cross buns, probably.


4 comments on “Z versus Edweena

  1. 63mago

    What is Edweena up to ? The Great Escape ? March Madness ?
    I have no clue about tortoises – are they digging ? Laying eggs ? Wunderbare Welt der testudines …

  2. Liz

    I have observed the rather purposeful (and surprisingly speedy) way in which Edweena moves around when I’ve been at your house, but who knows where she thinks she is going or what she plans to do when she gets there.

  3. Z Post author

    I think that she simply has more energy and is feeling territorial as well. She would like to have more space, but it’s too cold to let her out. There are two sun lamps, I should say, and the porch faces east and south, so they get plenty of the right sort of light.

    She moves with intent but, as you say, it’s hard to guess what that is. Simply giving her what she wants, as far as possible, seems to be the best way. I know that they are stubborn, that they feel fear, that they enjoy roaming in a variety of environments, that they can learn to the extent, at least, that a person approaching is not to be feared but that they may well be fed. They can see some, at least, colour (especially yellow) and they have a good enough sense of smell and taste. Obviously, they love the warmth of the sun or a lamp and they need somewhere to hide. I have no idea what, if anything, they think outside that.

  4. sablonneuse

    I’d never have thought tortoises had so much character. I remember having one as a child and he/she would emerge from the shell for food but otherwise didn’t do anything interesting.


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