Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Aesop's "The Hare and the Tortoise"--translated by George Fyler Townsend (1867)

A Hare one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the Tortoise, who replied, laughing: "Though you be swift as the wind, I will beat you in a race." The Hare, believing her assertion to be simply impossible, assented to the proposal; and they agreed that the Fox should choose the course and fix the goal. On the day appointed for the race the two started together. The Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course. The Hare, lying down by the wayside, fell fast asleep. At last waking up, and moving as fast as he could, he saw the Tortoise had reached the goal, and was comfortably dozing after her fatigue.
Slow but steady wins the race.

This fable is so well-known that I had to include it in the blog at some point--why not today?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"What do I feed my Greek Tortoise?" Part 2

I have been frequenting a great site that I found a little while back called TotallyTortoise.com. There is some pretty good generic information on there that is helpful to any beginner keeper of chelonians. The page that I really like, however, is the Tortoise Blog. This site is pretty well-known so a lot of people get on and ask all sorts of questions. Honestly, many of the questions that I have read would be better posed to a veterinarian than to whomever happens to read and respond to a posting (and that's what I usually tell these folks--"Take your tortoise to a veterinarian").
Yesterday I came across a post from D who has a [beautiful] Golden Greek Tortoise. She asked three very good questions:

1.Is my tortoise getting fed properly?
2.Do I need to trim his nails and how?
3.Is shell flaking normal and should I use calcium supplement again?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A New Feature

After a hiatus of nearly a full month, I'm back to posting!
These last few weeks have been quite busy for me personally and professionally. I have a new job and Hector and Phoebe have a new and exciting feature in their home!
This addition adds around 300 square inches to their usable space--approximately a 78% increase! (Click here for more pictures of Hector and Phoebe's initial reactions including a lot of sniffing around and nibbling!)

This setup took quite a lot longer than it needed to, but I wanted to have something well-made that would last and look good. In order to do this I enlisted the help of L and I, hobbyist and professional carpenters with an impressive work history (including bathroom remodeling, basement remodeling, custom furniture, various kitchen tools and pieces, cabinetry, building restoration, and now a Greek Tortoise Ramp and Platform Assembly). We used Walnut, White Oak and rock (granite, quartz and basalt) that I sliced with a tile saw to construct it. This project is definitely over-engineered for the "stresses" that two small Greek Tortoises will put on it; but L and I were teaching me principles of woodworking and did none of the actual construction (they were more like advisors sitting in house while I was in the shop, but when I got stuck they were quite helpful). It was great fun, and I think the finished-product looks pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pet Stores

It's hard to get a Greek Tortoise anywhere else, so we go to pet stores, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Pet stores have numerous animals all in one place with pet accessories, pet care products, pet habitats, pet smells, and almost any other pet-related commodity you can think of! Those of us who love Greek Tortoises also have a love (if not of affection then of necessity) for the pet store around the corner.
Like many others, walking out the door of the pet store with a "new" Greek Tortoise stirred the same feelings experienced by a driver taking that beautiful new machine out of the dealership lot for the first time: excitement to the point of giddiness.  Unfortunately, not all pets in these stores are as brand new as one might hope, and none of them come with a five-year warranty.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tortoise Terminology

This is a running glossary of sorts.  I will be continually adding to it as I think of new words and terms that would be of interest to the keeper of Greek Tortoises.  Please feel free to comment on either my definitions or on terms that you would like to see included (along with a suggested definition if you happen to have one).  To find uses of these words within The Greek Tortoise Guild, I suggest inputing a term into the "Search The Greek Tortoise Guild" search field at the top right of the blog.
(Note: Along with my other posts, these definitions are given as they apply to Greek Tortoises, and though many definitions are universal, these do not necessarily apply to all chelonians.)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Greek Pyramids

"Pyramiding" is a condition that the experienced keeper of Greek Tortoises (or any chelonian for that matter) will surely know about. However, for novices, this affection is either unknown or at the very least misunderstood; until a few weeks ago, my level of comprehension was a lot closer to the latter.

I thought that Pyramiding was a general doming of the carapace, almost like a bubble was caught inside the shell and was gradually making it taller and more convex. I also was under the impression that pyramiding was caused by a diet severely lacking in nutrients and just abhorrently poor in general (something like using white bread, dog food, meat, or some other heinous "food").

Not so.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Three Stages of Breakfast

When I got up this morning Hector and Phoebe were very ready for breakfast.  This is how they looked while they were waiting for me to put food in their dish (they knew what was going on):

As shown below, we have to make sure that they are separate from each other and have enough food directly in front of them. Otherwise, Phoebe (she tends to do this a little more than Hector) will see Hector eating food in her periphery and will want to eat the same food since he seems to have more food than her.  She will try eating food that Hector already has in his mouth and will accidentally bite his head (anyone that has watched a tortoise walk, eat or climb knows that they do not have good coordination).  Another scenario that has happened several times is that Phoebe will start eating Hector's food and will completely inhibit him from eating at all.  This is one of those time when Hector shows his personality.  He bites Phoebe, and he's not too picky about which body part he attacks--whatever is closest is good enough.  Fortunately, this is a very rare occurrence.

We did pretty well this morning at estimating how much they would eat.  Some days are better than others because their appetite will vary somewhat.  Even these last leaves Hector would eat if we fed them to him by hand (it's quite hard to eat something flat that's on a flat surface when you don't have hands or even lips--oh the trials of Chelonian life).  Phoebe might eat them too, but Hector was the only one still awake (Hector eats more and longer and Phoebe goes to sleep first, generally speaking) while I was leaving for work when I took this picture.