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Tortoise Soaking Day
March 11, 2019
Meet the Torts
Betty enjoys the habitat especially on feeding days. Betty has learned that the other girls in the habitat will crowd the food dishes. Betty will patiently wait until the feeding frenzy has subsided before picking out the best of the leftovers. Each tortoise has a unique personality, which is often surprising to volunteers.
Hugo, the newest Rock Star, came to us in September 2012. He is much larger than the normal desert tortoise (he weighs over 33 pounds) as he overfed for several years before being left behind in an abandoned home. Now that he’s at Red Rock, Hugo is enjoying a delicious and balanced diet. See the Tort Food List to learn what to feed and what not to feed desert tortoises.
Libby prefers keeping company with Lucie and Mae and has been known to share a meal or two with them. In the wild, tortoises spend up to 95% of their time in their burrows and seldom get to see other tortoises. Libby is enjoying a middle-aged growth spurt: she has gained more than 2 pounds in the last 5 years.
Lucie, the Grand Dame of the habitat, is also the smallest (weighing slightly over 6 pounds) and most easily recognized due to her shell. Lucie had an inadequate diet during her younger years, which resulted in a misshapen shell. Tortoises are so slow growing that the effects of a poor diet are not noticeable until it is too late. Lucie laid six eggs in 2010 and enjoys socializing with habitat guests as well as her female buddies.
Mae loves soaking day, she always takes a big drink. Tortoises only need to drink water one time a year because they can re-use the water in their bladders. When a tortoise gets scared it may empty its bladder. If it can’t get a drink, it may get dehydrated; so don’t scare any tortoises!
Shelby is trying to warm up in this photo. She had been brumating (reptile hibernation) from October until February. She just came out of the burrow and was looking for the sun. She also has an interesting physical feature: She has an extrascute on her shell. Maybe this is how she got her name?
In this photo, the smoke from a wildfire is visible behind Willie. Female tortoises can delay when they lay their eggs for several years. If there is a fire or severe drought, she may wait for better conditions before she lays eggs. Willie laid eight eggs in 2015.