The large shell-less being here….
Once people find out there is more than one shelled being in our little flock, I can typically predict what question is coming next.
They want to know if my two shells get along.
Here, the first challenge is to define “get along.” I used to struggle with this until my juvenile female redfoot tortoise almost bit my adult rescued male box turtle’s nose off!
This, of course, was because he was coming on too strong. As usual.
Bruce came to us as an adult. When box turtles grow up, they pretty much spend all their time doing three things: sleeping, eating or looking for other box turtles so they can make eggs together.
When an adult male box turtle – say, Bruce, for example – first wakes up from winter hibernation, eating is not topmost on his mind, even though he probably hasn’t eaten for weeks and maybe months.
Nope. He is looking for love. And he may not eat until he finds it!
So imagine how delighted my Bruce was to discover there is a lady turtle (well, tortoise, technically) living right next door to him!
Bruce is a shy boy – he really is. He looks really confident. He knows how to make direct eye contact. He knows how to tell if the shelled being standing in front of him is a girl or a boy (tail sniffing – it’s not just for canines anymore).
I actually have video proof to back this up.
But what he doesn’t know how to do is play it cool. If ever I’ve seen a life form in need of a social skills refresher, it is Bruce.
One day I decided to let Bruce and Malti meet one another. I don’t do this very often but Bruce was acting particularly lethargic and I was brainstorming a way to tell if he was sick or just estivating (kind of like a summer hibernation) because of the heat. I figured if he was sick, he would just sit there because he felt awful and then I’d know I needed to take him to the vet.
But if it was estivation, chances are good he would “come to” when he caught sight of Malti.
Suffice it to say he came to. Oh boy did he.
The moment Malti wandered by, head down in the clover as usual (this is not a girl who would ever delay snacks for love), he perked right up, hauled himself up onto his strong little box turtle forelimbs and headed off to make true love happen.
I was photographing and videoing the whole thing. I was really curious to see what might transpire.
And this ended up being a very good thing, because right at the moment Malti finally stopped walking away and turned to face Bruce – right at the second where I was about to utter a besotted “ohhhh so cuuuuute!” – Malti opened her jaws WIDE!
And I snatched Bruce away right before she chomped half his face off.
Here is the gripping footage right before I had to pause it…for obvious reasons.
This is one of many excellent reasons why I personally don’t let my shells hang out together.
Plus, our amazing vet strongly advises against it. And that is good enough for this interspecies flock mama.