Monday, April 28, 2008

Tortoise Turmoil!


There was lots of excitement in our house this afternoon. My son stumbled upon a stray, baby tortoise whilst walking close to our house. We have come across them a few times as they do live in the wild here. However, we have always been on our way somewhere or a little too far from home to bring one back with us. Today he found one round the corner and brought him ‘home’.

I am not sure how long he will stay with us. I am not even sure if he is a ‘he’. I had a pet tortoise when I was small and I know from experience how they like to climb and clamber over things and have a knack of finding nooks and crannies to escape through. They certainly like to be free so I am not convinced ours will stay for long, particularly as our garden has lots of ‘escape routes’ in it. So, for today anyway, we have a pet tortoise. He has just been given a pile of watery lettuce but is a little afraid of all the fuss being made over him and has buried himself beneath a pile of leaves.

Monday morning:

There was angst this morning when the tortoise was nowhere to be found. Finally we heard rustling and saw him bustling along with a sense of purpose. He was, as anticipated, checking out the exits. To one side of the garden we have a neighbouring garden, which is situated a perilous two meters below ours. Behind a rockery border there is a sharp drop from our side to theirs. I rescued the tortoise from the edge of the ‘cliff’ and placed him far from danger. This tortoise though, appears to have a death wish and immediately set out, with a swagger full of attitude, to retrace his steps. I decided he would just have to figure out for himself his own sense of danger and left him this time to patrol the border alone.

He is very small with an indentation on the top of his shell from a previous injury. I can’t help but fret over him. Earlier I went searching to establish his whereabouts and when I found him tried to tempt him with some cucumber. During the five minutes this took, the baby, who was watching from the window, had picked up a leaf and commenced eating it. I decided that my own daughter needed my attention more than a dare devil, stubborn tortoise and went inside to take care of her. Since then the tortoise has gone AWOL again.

Monday afternoon:

He turned up! Just rescued the tortoise from a ledge with a rocky drop below it, at the end of our garden. He had walked under a metal railing and wandered to the edge of a rock. I found him, looking rather sheepish, stranded on the rock, seemingly unable to move in any direction. I reached through and put him on the grass. Following a short pause for thought, he headed towards the dangers of the neighbour’s garden. If he is to survive then he has to work out for himself that he has a perfectly nice garden to stay in, regular food and water and the attention of three, curious kids. The lure of ‘grasses greener’ needs to diminish. He has a choice; attempt some daredevil escape plot (successfully or otherwise) or decide to stay put. Time will tell.