D is for Desert Tortoise! One of only two reptiles you’ll ever hear of me getting close to; the desert tortoise does in fact make a pretty good pet, however, unless under extreme conditions, it is illegal to own one.
We came to have Bensen (pictured above) join us after he escaped from someone who thought to keep him captive by JB welding an eyehook on his shell. Our friendly neighborhood reptile vet removed it so it wouldn’t further impede the growth of his shell. Note: This was not the kind of waiting room I was used to waiting in - Yikes!
We promptly learned all there was to know about the Sonoran desert tortoise. Or, so we thought before discovering that Bensen had his own way of doing things…
Built more for brawn than beauty, tortoises spend most of their lives, especially during hibernation, in underground burrows they dig with powerful front claws. Bensen was quite friendly and was always underfoot on the patio anytime we were out there, he also insisted on spending eight winters tucked under the credenza in my office! Tortoises are herbivores that eat only wild grass and some types of flowers. Bensen preferred fresh green beans, bock choy, kale and an occasional cactus fruit. He also had his own set of nose prints (below the dog’s) on the glass from whenever we were late with dinner. I guess that explains why, once you have a tortoise, it is illegal to release it back into the wild; their survival rate is drastically diminished. For us, he was family, so we had no intentions of letting him go.
Not long after we came home from work one evening and found both the dog and Bensen hovering around the remains of a dove (even Bensen had incriminating feathers in his mouth!) tragedy struck when someone left the gate ajar and though the dog was too old to care, Bensen wandered out. We assembled a tortoise posse but he’d had a good lead and was last seen high-steppin’ it for the canyon. I’ll never know if he lives to be 100, but I sure hope he does!
How about you? Have you ever had a wild animal for a pet?