Pet of the Week: Tortoise Trouble

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Tortoises can live for a very, very long time.
I know this because my family heirlooms are two tortoises. Most people inherit their grandmother’s jewellery or money, maybe a house if they’re lucky! I, however, am inheriting two tortoises from my Grandad Pat…

It started out as only one tortoise, Fred. My Nan and Grandad had Fred the tortoise along with all their other animals including cats, dogs, chickens, ducks and rabbits. They were big animal lovers, apparently.

One day, when my Grandad was driving home from work, he came across a tortoise crossing the road. (This isn’t the start to a joke, I promise!) He got out of the car, picked up the tortoise and took it to the police station. After two weeks, an unclaimed tortoise still remained at the station, so my Grandad got a phone call asking him to come and collect it.

What’s in a name?
Apparently quite a lot… While deciding what to do with this second tortoise, my grandparents simply referred to her as “The Other One”. However, as is often the case, more and more time passed and no decision had been made regarding the tortoise. And so, over fifty years later, my Grandad still has two tortoises, and they are still called Fred and The Other One.

Just as parent’s have favourite children, they also have favourite pets
It may come as no surprise that Fred is the favourite tortoise. He’s rather pampered for a tortoise with endless supplies of lettuce and a fresh bed of straw every night. Fred is not just my Grandad’s favourite, but he’s also my dad’s favourite tortoise.

When my dad first started seeing my mum, Fred was spending a lot of time at the vets and due to his illness, didn’t hibernate for two years. He required eye drops two times a day and also had to be drip fed once in the afternoon. Whether it was to earn my Grandad’s approval and impress his future father-in-law or simply because he was more patient than my mum, my dad took on the challenge of nursing Fred back to health. Apparently, it’s fairly difficult to adminster eye drops to a tortoise, a feat my dad manages to brag about surprisingly often.

Hibernation is essential
As Fred didn’t hibernate for two years, he is a very big tortoise, much bigger than The Other One. Due to his size, the two tortoises have to be kept apart or they start fighting. Surprisingly aggressive animals, Fred can easily flip The Other One on her back, and if a tortoise is stuck on their backs for too long they can die.

A cat or a tortoise?
So if you’re deciding on your next pet, maybe consider a tortoise! They’ll be there for you every step of the way (literally – they’ll probably outlive you) though maybe a few steps behind. And while not as fluffy as a cat, they can hiss as loud! Either that, or The Other One is possibly possessed and is the only hissing tortoise known to man.