Saturday, September 25, 2010

I Always Thought Spring Was The Time...

...when the birds and bees went about their business along with most of the rest of the smaller critters in the animal kingdom and figured that tortoises were included in that group. Today though, my tortoises proved me wrong. It was such lovely and warm day, for an early fall one, that I decided to put the tortoises out in the yard for some natural sunlight. They have been in an indoor enclosure ever since the outside one essentially fell apart due to rot caused by carpenter ant damage and age. So out they went today in a concrete mixing basin right out in the sunlight. I left em there like that for about an hour, then decided to turn em all loose in the backyard for awhile. They could use both the exercise and the variety of plants they would be able to browse upon. Once out, the female Russian Tortoise headed for the shade and stayed there for a couple of hours before coming back out to feast on grasses and other low growing plants in my yard. The Hermann's Tortoises, on the other hand, had something else in mind. Well at least the male had something else on his mind. As the much larger female Hemann's Tortoise made for the inside of our backyard shed, the male was close behind her and once they were in the shed, it became obvious why he had remained so close to her, he mounted her or tried to. I let them be alone and have no idea if his mission was successful. Later on they both made the rounds of the yard stopping here and there for a nibble of whatever caught their fancies.

Just a little while ago, I went to round up all three of the tortoises and found the Russian right away on our patio. The other two required a good deal of looking on my part and I was having trouble locating them when Pepe, our male Chihuahua , started yapping in his I found em bark. They were under a bush and were going at it again, or at least the male had been trying again until so rudely interrupted by Pepe. It seemed as if the rear portion of the female's shell was down to the ground so low there was no way he could, um - get to her. I left them a bit longer but Pepe kept barking at them and was soon joined by Mimi and Roxie (our two mutts) and Lucy our female Chihuahua. I don't think the tortoises thought the serenade the dogs were giving them was all that romantic so I scooped em up to put em inside. Now you might think that would stop them but no way! Once in their tank, the male just started in again. He certainly seems to be a persistent little fellow once the urge overcomes him.

Today was the first time I noticed the male Hermann's Tort showing any interest in the female. Of course, for all I know, they could be going at it all day long each and every day when I am at work and she could be gravid already. She also could have already laid eggs earlier this year. If she did that in the old outside pen then I'll have to hope for the best as to finding the baby tortoises once the eggs hatch. They are so small they will be able to escape from my yard pretty easily. I have been keeping an eye out for any but am pretty doubtful that she laid any eggs since I never saw evidence of nesting while I had them outside. If she gets gravid now, I suppose she will lay the eggs inside just as she would have outside. If that is the case, I will incubate them in in a homemade incubator. It would be a plus to have some baby Hermann's Torts born this year but my guess is I will have to wait until next spring for the adults to get it done right.

All the best,
Glenn B