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.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A Tasty Treat

I don't understand why, but Hector and Phoebe love to bite our fingers.  In fact, sometimes to get them to eat something that we know they need but refuse to eat, we'll hold the food a little to the side of their heads so that our fingers are right in front of them.  Right before they chomp down we move the food into their mouths--success!  If they really don't like the food then they will spit it back out (which is quite funny to see since they can't "grab" food with fingers), but this technique usually convinces them that the food we're offering is worth-while.  I have an idea or two as to why they do this, but nothing too concrete.

An idea that I have is that they have formed such a strong association between our skin color and food (since we often, but not always, feed them by hand) that sometimes our skin looks even more enticing than the food we're offering.  The problem with this theory is the fact that they will continue to bite a finger for several minutes until they finally give up on the idea of getting any food for all the energy being spent (or they are tired of the salty taste of our skin).

Oddly enough, while Hector and Phoebe bring the total number of Greek Tortoises we have had to five, they are the only two that have ever exhibited this behavior.  If any of our past Greek Tortoises ever bit a finger it was on accident while we were feeding them.  (A notable exception to this rule occurred with Sampson I as seen here).

They don't even care how big the skin is, they just like to chew on it.

Yes, this hurt a little.