Thursday, June 17, 2004

Married with...Turtles?

Well, I went to visit my grandchildren today.

Yes, you read that right. Grandchildren. I have grandchildren.

Well, not necessarily children by today's definition. More like grandtortoises. I have a pet male Russian Tortoise, Floyd, and we recently put him out to stud with a female Russian Tortoise who is owned by one of the families at our church, the Dullaarts. We let Floyd stay over at their house for about a week hoping that it would give him enough time to do his duty.

The only conceivable problem with this is that the female Russian Tortoise, Ethyl, is about twice as big and twice as fast as Floyd. So you can imagine the frustration this caused Floyd, because Ethyl wasn't too keen on being "studded". Occasionally, Mrs. Dullaart would find Floyd upside down in the yard, presumably flipped over by Ethyl since her shell is taller than his and it makes it difficult for Floyd to "assume the position".

But I guess Floyd was successful at one point or another, because shortly after his visit, Ethyl started laying eggs. And just a couple of days ago, 2 of the eggs hatched. So my parents and I went over to go see them.

Note: We were offered to take one of the babies, but my mom is whole-heartedly against it because she says one tortoise is hard enough to take care of. And she's probably right, but it's too bad, because they are really cool. They are maybe 2 inches in diameter, with little tiny heads, little tiny feet, a little tiny tail, and if they are anything like Floyd, they also will have gargantuan elephant-like turds. We have to be careful walking around the house because we let Floyd roam around wherever he pleases, and he is far from being potty-trained. It's very dangerous to walk around the house without wearing some heavy-duty boots and long pants because if you step in one of Floyd's immense gorilla-sized turds or one of his lakes of pee, you'll be knee-deep in despair.

It was interesting to see the differences in the two turtles. One was considerably more passive and didn't care to move around or explore too much, and the other was a miniature replica of Floyd...running around, exploring, digging, climbing, and being aggressive. And I was holding him, or trying to at least. He would try to crawl from my hand onto my arm, or he would go to the edge of my hand and look around nervously as if to say, "I don't want to go down there..." Then when I set him down on the sofa, he immediately made a beeline for the back of the sofa where the pillows were, and started to climb up them. So here is this tiny tortoise climbing a pillow 50 times larger than him, and he ends up getting about halfway up the pillow before it starts to get too steep to climb, so being the brilliant problem-solver that he is, he burrows into where the two pillows meet and goes to sleep.

Ah, how I envy Russian Tortoises sometimes. Not a care in the world. They can just eat and sleep all day if they want. Now I know when my parents read this they'll be thinking, "How is that any different than what you do everyday?" And they may have a point! But still, being a turtle would be really cool.

But no matter how hard I try, I'll never be as good at being as lazy as Floyd is. Sometimes just looking at him makes me sleepy...all sprawled out, basking in the sun while sitting on the porch in our back yard. And when he yawns (yes, turtles yawn) he looks a lot like Godzilla doing his patented roar.

So hopefully all the other eggs will hatch successfully, as I think there are 8-9 in all. That way, there will be a bunch of little Floyd's running around, climbing things, and making out-of-proportion messes in the worst places. But Floyd is a very unique turtle, and he's given me a lot of great memories, and he fits in just fine with our family. Now if he would just learn to do his business on the ground outside like everybody else, it would be perfect.

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