Wednesday, September 12, 2018

My Cousin: The Radiated Tortoise

Radiated Tortoises live naturally only in the extreme south and southwestern part of the island of Madagascar. They prefer dry regions of brush and thorny woodlands of the island.

They grow up to 16 inches and weigh up to 35 pounds, and is considered to be one of the world's most beautiful tortoises. This basic "tortoise" body shape consists of a high-dome, a blunt head and elephantine feet. The legs, feet, and head are yellow except for a black patch on top of the head. The shell (carapace) of the radiated tortoise is brilliantly marked with yellow lines radiating from the center of each dark plate of the shell, hence its name. This "star" pattern is more finely detailed.


The radiated tortoise is a grazing herbivore. They feed during the day mostly on grasses, fruit and succulent plants. Their grazing habits keep vegetation closely trimmed.

Radiated tortoises may live as long as 40 to 50 years. Sadly, these handsome tortoises are severely endangered due to loss of habitat, being poached for food, and being over exploited in the pet trade.


Saturday, August 18, 2018

There's Wisdom in Age






















Old age takes in part savory wisdom for its food -
see to it that your old age will not lack in nourishment.  
- Leonardo da Vinci

Sunday, August 12, 2018

My Cousin: The Soft Shell

Here's a soft shell variety of terrapin. Just look at this guy. He seems so flat and floppy. These turtles look like big leathery pancakes. The adults are brownish-green or tan with blotches on their skin. Their shells are covered with skin, and are soft around the edges. Their noses are long and round. When they swim, they stay underwater and stick their nose up to breathe, like a snorkel. Their feet are webbed and their necks are quite long. What an amazing species!



Softshell turtles can be very aggressive, and they sometimes bite each other and turtles of other species spontaneously or when feeding. Turtles with soft shells tend to be more aggressive than their more protected relatives. Florida softshell turtles are found on the coastal plains south of Mobile Bay, Alabama, and Charleston, South Carolina, including all of Florida except the Keys. Their preferred habitat is slow-moving bodies of fresh water with mud or sand bottoms. They spend much of their time buried in the soft bottom with only their head exposed. Softshell turtles are primarily carnivorous, feeding on aquatic insects, crustaceans, mollusks, fish, waterfowl and amphibians.

Flapjacks, anyone?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

My Cousin: The Red-Footed Tortoise

The Red-Footed Tortoise is a captive-bred, readily available and fairly hardy tortoise that makes a wonderful captive. Adults range from 10 to 14 inches in length, and originate across South America tropical forests and grasslands.

Red-footed tortoises require strong enclosures - it is best to make an indoor tortoise enclosure long and relatively narrow. A temperature gradient should be provided or a hot rock may also be used so long as a cool area is always provided. Red-footed tortoises are almost half bone and shell, so they have a great need for calcium. In order to absorb all the calcium they require, calcium levels in their diet must exceed phosphorus levels.
Foods high in calcium, but low in phosphorus, include dandelion greens, collard greens, parsley, kelp, watercress, celery and orange rind. An almost exclusive vegetarian diet is best; pesticide-free grass can provide roughage.

Look at this beauty!!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

My Cousin: The Rio Grande Cooter

I envy the carapace (shell) of the Rio Grande Cooter which is a colorful oval and elongated, flattened, with a slight keel (highest in middle). This fella has tooth-like cusps and webbed feet. Males have longer fingernails on forelimbs than females. The carapace is olive with blotches of alternating yellow and black. Scutes have four distinct bulls-eyes with black and yellow rings. His belly (plastron) is yellow with pigment along seams, which fade with age.

Skin is brown or olive with yellow stripes on neck, legs and tail. Wide yellow stripe down middle of head and neck. Carapace reaches lengths of approx 9.5 inches as adults (females larger than males).

Found along the Rio Grande and Pecos River drainages in Texas and southern New Mexico. Isolated populations have been found in several northern states in Mexico. The Rio Grande cooter is found in clear pools in New Mexico, but can be found in clear to muddy streams in Texas.

Not much is known about the diet of this species, but preliminary results indicate that it may be primarily a vegetarian. Sadly, the Rio Grande cooter is not a protected species in Texas and can be legally collected with a hunting license.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

My Cousin: The Leopard Tortoise

 The Leopard tortoise is a large and attractively marked tortoise found in the savannas of eastern and southern Africa, from Sudan to the southern Cape. This chelonian is a grazing species of tortoise that favors semi-arid, thorny to grassland habitats, although some leopard tortoises have been found in rainier areas. In both very hot and very cold weather they may dwell in abandoned fox, jackal, or anteater holes. Leopard tortoises do not dig other than to make nests in which to lay eggs. It grazes extensively upon mixed grasses as well as succulents and thistles, and (in captivity) the fruit and pads of the prickly pear cactus. The African Leopard Tortoise typically lives 80 to 100 years.

The leopard tortoise is the fourth largest species of tortoise in the world, with typical adults reaching 18-inch and weighing 40-pound An adult's maximum shell length can reach 24-inches in diameter. The giant Ethiopian form might reach 39-in in rare cases. Also, in much rarer cases in countries such as Sudan with their high humidity rainforests this type of tortoise can reach up to lengths of 45 inches.



All tucked in!

It is a large and attractively marked tortoise. The carapace is high and domed, and pyramid shaped scutes are not uncommon. The skin and background color is cream to yellow, and the carapace is marked with black blotches, spots or even dashes or stripes. Each individual is marked uniquely.


Leopard tortoises are herbivorous. They are more defensive than offensive, retracting feet and head into their shell for protection. This often results in a hissing sound, probably due to the squeezing of air from the lungs as the limbs and head are retracted.


This is the most widely distributed tortoise in Southern Africa. Leopard tortoises are increasingly being bred in captivity. This is a positive development, as it should lead to a gradual reduction in demand for animals caught in the wild.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Turtle Sea Bracelet

The beautiful Turtle Sea Bracelet is available at Divinity LA, at this link.