Saturday, September 13, 2014

Caturday(Peturday): My Turtle

I have a pet turtle. 

Er, tortoise. 

I mean, all tortoises are turtles but not all turtles are tortoises.
I call him turtle. 

His "real" name is Aries because of his temper. Not that he displays that very often, I try to make sure his life is pretty comfortable. He gets frustrated if he can't get somewhere he wants to go, or eat something he wants to eat. Like an apple rolling away from him. It's a hard life.
I tried to "discipline" him once when he kept knocking my chair and the little door stopper behind the door (I lived in apartments so he was an indoor tortoise for awhile). I picked him up and put in the bedroom and said "NO". He did not like the word no because usually that meant I was going to take something away from him, like hair ties and tacks. I went back to sit in my computer chair. He came out after awhile and sat next to me and pouted. Later, when I went to the kitchen, he came over and rammed my leg. He was only about ten pounds then but IT HURT SO MUCH.
I bought him in the summer of 1999 at the county fair. The tank was labeled "turtoises" which should have raised some red flags but didn't. I decided I wanted a "turtoise", they were so cute and so tiny. I was able to hold him in my palm and put my other hand over him.
The tank was full of them, all but one trying to escape the tank. Aries was sitting in the middle of the food dish, eating. I wanted the eating one. I had no idea what I was actually purchasing, I figured he would get no bigger than the size of a dinner plate. Which is still kind of ridiculous.
It wasn't until he was about a year old that I decided to try to figure out what he was. He was bigger now, so I was able to see more details. I did some searching online and found out that he was most likely an African Sulcata Tortoise. 

Oh. Dear. God.

They are of course illegal to sell in California.


They are the second largest land tortoise.

Double Great.

They live to be at least 100 years old.


Males can get up to 150 POUNDS.

Well, there was still a chance that my turtle was female, so maybe it won't get that big.
So at age five, he is eating his food in the kitchen and I'm on the phone, half watching him when I notice something odd starting to protrude from his behind. I start freaking out. More comes out. He doesn't seem perturbed and is still eating. I'm so scared that he is herniating or his intestines are falling out or something just awful. It keeps growing... 

And then I'm struck with a thought. 

Is that... is that... a PENIS?

Nothing (in my life anyway) prepares you for a tortoise penis. It was purplish, a bit slimy looking, curves underneath him then FLARES OUT like the bottom of a snail (very vagina-y looking). He walked around the house a bit with his hard on, then nutted on my kitchen floor. It was like someone broke on egg on the floor.

So he was a male. Luckily I gave him a male name already.

He seems to gain about an average of five pounds a year. I can still pick him up, but I'm thinking in two years that will not be possible any more.
He loves to walk through the sprinkler in the summer and will soak for a bit in the pool if I set him up for him. But not always which can be super annoying if I go through all the work getting him in there. Two seconds in and he's like nope, get me the hell out of here. 
He is actually pretty social and loves it when people and animals are around. When we were having the fence fixed,  he hung out with the workers under the tree when they were on their lunch break. Not sure if they appreciated his company completely, one guy kept moving whenever to turtle plopped down next to him.
He likes to eat everything he isn't suppose to eat (like fruit). Since his skeleton is on the outside and he is cold blooded, you have to be more careful with his diet than a dog or cat. You don't want his insides to grow faster than his shell otherwise his shell will crack. I'm not perfect at his diet, but I try. Trust me, don't google turtles on bad diets :(
So he turned 15 this summer, August 5th is his birthday. If I am taking care of him moderately well, then I have 85 more years with him. Guess I need to figure out who to leave him to! 

Maybe I will make it a package deal with the house :D


  1. I have been waiting so long for a detailed Aries post!!! My husband once bought a python at a flea market - I had no idea how common buying "impulse pets" actually is. I love how well you've taken care of him. So many people would abandon or even kill an animal they didn't particularly want in the first place let alone is going to live to be 100 and nuts on their floor. You're quite the tortoise expert after 15 years!

    1. I take having him for granted and I forget that he is bizarre and interesting :)
      In my defense, I was like 19, so it's not like I was at an age to make great long term decisions ;)
      I prefer animals that don't need containers, but I love snakes and lizards too. Except for my ex-boyfriends six foot long iguana that bit me. Stupid thing.

    2. Also, turtle at ramming speed is a pretty funny thing to picture in my head....and NO ONE is prepared for a tortoise penis - ever.

      Iguanas can be really mean. My mom used to want one until she read more about them. We went to a resort in Mexico a few years ago and there were wild iguanas that ran around everywhere. I took way too many pictures of them....

  2. Love this! I had seen you post some photos of him on instagram and always wondered about the story behind this guy. :) Thanks for sharing!

    1. No problem! I'm just glad people actually wanted to read through this whole post! Lols. My neighbors rented out a room and their new roommate saw his feet underneath the fence and asked if I had a monster in my backyard! They were kind of scared. In my mind he is just a moving rock, nothing scary at all!

  3. He is awesome! Love this post. I am loving the story behind this and glad you kept him. :)

    1. I have another story of when he went missing that i'm working on writing. And when I say working on, I wrote the title and its been in draft.