Our new shelled family member arrived in late July and the last month has been lots of fun watching him explore. Cornwallis is a Mediterranean greek tortoise that hatched at the end of June in South Florida (he came from reptile breeder Kenan Harkin). I’m calling Cornwallis a “him” even though we won’t know what sex the tortoise is for a few years. He is too small to know if he’s a boy or a girl right now.
Reptiles are often shipped overnight via a reptile shipping service Fedex provides. I unpacked him as soon as he arrived and he settled into his tub. Baby tortoises spend a lot of time hiding and sleeping when they aren’t eating and basking in the sun. Cornwallis is active for about half the day before burrowing down and going to sleep. I usually dig him out when I get home from work and soak him in some lukewarm water which he enjoys. This keeps him hydrated and stimulates his appetite. He often falls asleep during his soaks. Tortoises cannot swim very well so it is just deep enough for him to wade in.
He’s a great eater already! So far his favorite thing is radicchio. He doesn’t like kale. He enjoys hibiscus leaves, grass, collard greens, various weeds I find and pick for him i the yard (there is a website to check if it is a safe plant for tortoises called The Tortoise Table Plant Database).
Snack and run # #tortoise #tortoisehatchling #testudograeca #greektortoise #floridacorgi #pembrokewelshcorgi #corgiphotobomb #cornwallisthetort A video posted by Katie Ringo (@magnoliafly) on
I think second only to digging is climbing – which he is extremely good at.
I’ve learned a lot about keeping tortoises from various websites and facebook groups. One surprising tip I learned was to put pill bugs (rolly polys) in your tortoise enclosure to prevent fruit flies and the like from popping up. They clean up leftover bits of food and also eat the tortoise waste. You hardly ever see them, they mostly come out at night to do cleanup.
The corgis and the tortoise are kept separate since dogs often mistake them for chew toys and I don’t want him getting hurt. But they do look on with curiosity when he’s out having his soak or a little meal. He got a clean bill of health from his vet so now we just work on keeping him happy and healthy while he grows into an adult tortoise. His travel basket received many compliments.
Once Cornwallis is large enough he will live in an outdoor enclosure in my backyard for most of the year. He’s too small to do that right now but we do spend time outside so he gets natural sunlight while he grows. I think building his enclosure will be a fun outdoor project for me.