Meet Cornwallis

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.

Cornwallis the Greek Tortoise

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).

I think second only to digging is climbing – which he is extremely good at.

Cornwallis the Greek Tortoise

Cornwallis the Greek Tortoise

Cornwallis the Greek Tortoise

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.

Cornwallis the Greek Tortoise

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.

Cornwallis the Greek Tortoise

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. 


  1. This is very interesting. You have posted such good photos of Wally in his cozy, new exciting home. We are unable to legally own turtles in Canada. Keep us posted on his progress.

    • Will do! He gets weighed weekly and has already gained a few grams so I know he’s growing nicely. I’ll keep everyone updated on his adventures.

  2. Your post today was a very interesting read. The photos you have taken are also wonderful. He really is a beautiful tortoise. Plus, I find it very encouraging that you took the time to study and learn information before bringing him into your home. I wish more people would do that, I think it would really cut down on the abuse animals receive. I hope that you and Cornwallis have many happy years together!

    • Thanks Brenda! The only thing that gave me pause was how long they live. Tortoises can easily live over 100 years if cared for properly. But I know if something happens or if I become unable to care for him I’ll find him a good home. I hope we grow old together!

  3. Oh Katie, I just love Cornwallis and the photo’s/video that you took, they all made me smile, then questions popped into my head like “how big will he get and will he hibernate in the winter”?

    He sure is a cute and I look forward to more pictures of him.

    How are you doing in the quilting area, I know your one post said that you were kind of pulling back from it….have you found another way to relax…..? I am about to get back into quilting it has been too hot here in NM to do much other than to read.

    Hugs and hoping your feeling better each day~~!

    PS….beware to not let him get stolen, had a lady friend on my walks who had her 30 year old turtle taken, however she had him in a not so safe spot….just beware that there are some out there who look at our pets differently than we do.

    • Hi Jody!!

      Cornwallis will be a small tortoise and his adult size will depend on what sex he is. If he is a male they are are smaller and grow to be 8-10″ long in shell length. Females are a bit larger growing to be 10-12″ long.

      Greek tortoises can hibernate in winter but I’m not sure if he will want to in Florida. It’ll be several years before he is large enough to hibernate and if I decide to do it I’ll probably do a fridge hibernation method since Tampa doesn’t stay cold long enough to do it naturally and I’d want to control the temperature. Some people “overwinter” their tortoises which means they don’t hibernate them. Hibernating a tortoise incorrectly can be fatal so I am hesitant to do it but ultimately I’ll do what is best for his health.

      My quilting has been limited to small blocks for my guild charity quilts (I usually post those on instagram) but I’ve ordered some USPS boxes so I can really begin my destash in my studio I’ve long been talking about doing. I thought this week might be a good time to do an “Honest Craftroom” post so everyone can see how cluttered and what a disaster it is! I think it’ll be motivating to clean and organize it all. I really want to simplify what I have and move some furniture out that I’m not using or I feel I just don’t need in there.

      And I’m definitely wary about leaving Cornwallis outdoors unsupervised. Once he’s big enough to go outdoors he will be in a locked run. I’m already paranoid about the corgis being in the backyard by themselves even if I’m in the house for a few minutes.

  4. Great tortoise. He`s a beauty and I love his habitat.