Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cuteness alert!

Daylilies are a healthy treat for tortoises... and since they are one of my favorite flowers, I have a lot of them in my garden. I love that Buttercup, our little Marginated baby, is smaller than even the smallest of the daylily blooms. I know she will end up much bigger than the flowers, as well as all my other tortoises... so I took some pictures of her eating a flower!

Buttercup taking a chomp out of a daylily

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Snail Cozies?!!!

I promise you that I have NOT gone off the deep end. ;) I just like to crochet, and I like to giggle. One of my clients asked me to crochet a tiny lacy stegosaurus cozy for her baby tortoise, which happens to be the same size as our baby marginated tortoise, Buttercup. I had a little bit of the yarn left over... and so, not wanting to waste it, I made a snail cozy! I couldn't stop laughing, and so I took some pictures for you:

Buttercup and snail. Snail is being shy.

A snail in a cozy. What is this world coming to?!

Neither tortoises nor snails need cozies... but both are very funny!

Who wouldn't giggle about a snail in a cozy?!
I hope this made you smile just a little... or maybe laugh out loud?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The tortoise nursery

Keeping a hatchling tortoise involves a little more work than caring for a juvenile or adult tortoise. It helps that our little Marginated tortoise Buttercup had a really good start in life - she is healthy, spunky, active, eats well, and even self-hydrates (aka she drinks on her own!).

Buttercup, our wee Marginated baby
I thought some of you might like to see the 'nursery' I set up for her. She has one that is indoors, where she sleeps and spends her mornings, and one that is outdoors, which I move about a bit to provide both sun and shade.

The tortoise nursery
I purchased this large rubbermaid bin, and used a dremel cutting wheel to cut out most of the plastic lid. Then I zip-tied hardware cloth into that area (hardware cloth is similar to chicken wire, but has much smaller holes). This will help protect Buttercup from hawks, crows, cats, or whatever else might come through our yard during the daytime.

I filled the bin halfway with ACE topsoil. It has no fertilizer and no perlite. I included a little hill, a cave, some rocks, a water dish (which used to be a lid for some container), and a bunch of hens-and-chicks and weeds (dandelion, plantain, violet, thistle) from the yard. Of course Buttercup decided to burrow into the dirt outside of the cave, making her own... and she dug up some of the plants and/or ate them. Tortoises are such little tanks!

Buttercup, exploring
I mist the whole enclosure several times a day - letting the soil surface dry out in between. I also soak Buttercup in shallow, warm water for about 20 minutes daily. As mentioned above, I end up moving the bin a few feet at a time to provide sunshine and shade. Around 4pm it gets hot enough in the side yard where the tortoises live that Buttercup digs down into the soil. Then she comes back out around 6 to snack and explore some more.

Buttercup chomping pieces off of the cuttlefish bone
Baby tortoises have a lot of growing to do, and to grow healthy bones and a healthy shell, tortoises need a lot of calcium. I provide cuttlefish bones in both of Buttercups nursery bins, and am delighted to see that she helps herself to it.

Cuttlefish bones are a good source of calcium!
Look at how big she is opening her mouth to take a bite! She nibbles on the cuttlefish bone almost daily.

The bottom line for a good tortoise nursery: protection from predators, good substrate, humidity, warmth, food, shelter, calcium, water. Keeping baby tortoises hot and humid results in beautiful, smooth shells (along with good food, good natural UVB light, and calcium). I will change the landscape in there periodically to keep it interesting and stimulating. She will likely out-grow this container by next Spring, but for now it is just right!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Custom 'Taco' tortoise cozy

I love creative challenges! One of my clients asked me if I could make a 'taco' tortoise cozy for her tortoise who is named Taco. It took a bit of experimenting, but here is what I came up with: 

...maybe we should taco 'bout this... 

Crocheting this cozy was much more involved than the others I've made, but I could imagine it may become quite popular.

Roz modeling the 'taco' tortoise cozy.
What kind of food should I crochet for YOUR tortoise? ;)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Our baby Marginated tortoise has a name!

I think I have settled on a name for our little Marginated tortoise. My husband called her a "margarine" tortoise the other day, which brought me to butter, which brought me to 'Buttercup' - if she really turns out to be female, and some day we get a male, then we'll name him Wesley. ;)

Little Buttercup seems to be settling in really well. She has eaten every day, is active and curious, and loves to explore. She seems to enjoy her daily soaks, and doesn't hide when I mist her.

I move her big tub outside every afternoon so that she can catch some natural sunshine. She seems to like being out there, and it will be fun to watch her explore when I've built her a larger outdoor enclosure. 

I measured and weighed her yesterday. Buttercup is 2.5" long (6.35cm) and weighs 60g. I look forward to watching this spunky little one grow and thrive!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bathtime and weigh-in!

Except for our baby Marginated tortoise, all the torts are currently living outside for the Summer. Just to be sure that they are staying hydrated, I soak them once a week (the baby gets soaked every day). I keep my tortoises separated by species, so bath-time is really the only chance I have to take a picture of them all together.

My little tortoise crew soaking in warm water
The current count is: 5 Russian tortoises (1 male, 4 females), 1 Greek, 1 Marginated. These are all my own, I am not currently fostering any tortoises (I'm sure that will change).

Summertime weigh-in
About once every half year I weigh my tortoises to make sure they are growing healthily. Here are the result's from today's weigh-in:

Our Greek tortoise, Boo - 480g

The Russian tortoises:
Jill - 452g
Roz - 478g
Mila - 628g
Timmy - 908g
Lady - 1075g

Our baby Marginated tortoise - 60g

It looks like all the tortoises are healthily gaining weight. Hooray!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New tortoise family addition!

We have had an un-planned addition to our tortoise family yesterday: a small Marginated tortoise baby! This little one hatched last November to a tortoise owner near us. At almost 9 months old, she is past the sensitive stage, but still small enough to fit into the palm of my hand. 

I haven't decided on a name yet - the eggs were incubated at temperatures that should result in females, so until proven otherwise, I am going to assume she is a female. We likely won't be able to tell for sure for several years.

I have never held a tortoise this small. She is too darn cute! She sure doesn't hold still much though. It was hard to get good pictures!

Just look at that cute little tortoise belly! Did you know that Marginated tortoises have a slightly hinged plastron? It is more obvious in an adult.

She was kept outdoors since April - she has a beautiful, healthy shell (with very minimal pyramiding from the first few weeks of her life, which she spent indoors), and she is active, alert, bright-eyed and spunky. I have set up an indoor enclosure for her, but she will spend afternoons outside in a protected little enclosure. 

I haven't measured and weighed her yet. I didn't want to disturb her too much today, since she was eating wonderfully, and exploring her enclosure.

It is going to be so fun watching her thrive and grow! So far all my tortoises have been rescues and 2nd hand... so it will be nice to start with a 'brand new' little one.

Monday, July 8, 2013 many tortoise cozies!

The tortoise cozy business is BOOMING, folks! Seriously, I am receiving several new orders every day, and I am working as quickly as I can.

Oh so many cozies...
This last week we were out of town, so I took the opportunity to close my Etsy shop for a few days, so as to get somewhat caught up on my custom orders. Can you believe that these cozies are only about half of the ones I've made in the last 2 weeks?!

Just for fun, I also created a few new designs:
The question is... who wins? The tortoise or the hare?

The flying pig - wings optional
And I played around with a few new color combinations:

Jill loves to eat Johnny Jump Ups, so this seemed like good colors for her.
If you are interested in having me make your tortoise a custom cozy, please swing by my Etsy shop, MossyTortoise and send me a private Etsy message. :) I look forward to hearing from you!