He came to live with us 3 days ago when Jose, my brother-in-law called me from work and said, "Do you guys want a tortoise?" He assured us that the tortoise would arrive with everything needed and that he would be a low maintenance pet. I called Eric and we both agreed it was a good idea. Plus we could rack up some "Coolest Parents in the World" points, so why not?
Eric and Jose hauled up this giant blue plastic bin to our third floor apartment, set it on the floor and Jose pulled out the tortoise for us all to see. I thought I would take a half-hearted interest in the little walking shell for the most part, wanting my cool points more then anything else. Jose could hold the tortoise's elaborately patterned shell between his thumb and middle finger. You could tell the tortoise was a bit scared not having solid ground underneath his feet. He was moving his spiky legs this way and that, hoping to connect with something solid. His eyes were unsure as he took in his new surroundings. I found myself saying, "Aww, he's so sweet." and was completely charmed.
The kids discussed what to name our new little friend. Omar suggested Snow Drop, a highly appropriate name for any African desert reptile. However, Tevya won out with the name Torty. His full name is Torty Tortisan Snow Drop in case you were wondering.
I didn't realize until the next day that out of all of us, Torty had stolen Eric's heart the most. Eric went on a research frenzy and discovered all sorts of interesting things about Torty. First off, we had all the wrong stuff for him to eat, walk on or to have a happy home life in general. Eric and Omar went out to buy special dirt and vitamin D supplements for tortoises. Eric made him a house to hide in, cleans out his water dish constantly and makes sure Torty is eating a well balanced diet. Eric emailed me 4 times today about Torty, and it is currently just past noon. He has joined an online group for Sulcata owners for advice. It is clear that he loves the tortoise more then the rest of us.
Another startling discovery was that in 5-6 years, Torty could weigh 50 pounds. He's currently about the size of a tea saucer, to give you some perspective. A 50 pound tortoise + chicago apartment (with no yard) = "What the hell did we get ourselves into?". It appears that after the 6th year they have an even bigger growth spurt and can get up 100 pounds. Eric read that people will abandon their Sulcatas in Texas or New Mexico, climates similar to the northern parts of Africa, when they get too big. Tevya mentioned we could give him to a zoo and Omar broke into a huge sobbing fit at the idea of loosing Torty. It is something to think about for the future but right now I can't wait to take him out to the park for a little snack when the grass is growing again.