When I was little, I kept five water turtles – all red-eared and yellow-eared sliders. They were adorable and so agile! They could pile out of the water directly on top of one another like tiny shelled acrobats.
I didn’t keep close company with shelled beings again for many years until four and a half years ago when Malti, a redfoot tortoise hatchling, came into my life.
She was really cute…and really clumsy! Nearly from day one, her tiny little legs reminded me of nothing so much as teensy elephant feet as they clumped and clomped her around our casa.
If she climbed up anything, she couldn’t climb back down. If she fell over onto her back (a frequent occurrence) she couldn’t right herself. She would often climb over half of something and then get stuck on top of it, her little legs dangling off the sides in either direction.
So suffice it to say that Bruce’s entry into our little flock was something of a revelation. Backwards, forwards, up, down, sideways, under water, over hills and through valleys, on his back (you haven’t truly lived until you’ve seen a box turtle backflip)….Bruce never seemed to meet an obstacle he couldn’t conquer.
To this day, it is a not-infrequent occurrence to see him shell-slide down his hay pile, scamper across the dirt and ricochet into his swimming pool, smoothly swimming across and coming out the other side like an Olympian in training.