Follow Pearl, Malti & Bruce
When you keep company with turtles and tortoises, you have plenty of opportunities to make new neural connections.
This, of course, is because they are full of brain-enriching surprises.
For instance, never in a million years would I have guessed how very different one shelled being can be from another – at least not until Bruce was rescued to me and came to live permanently with our little flock.
I thought I was at least somewhat prepared to care for a second shelled being, given that I had by then amassed a couple of years’ worth of experience parenting Malti, a hatchling South American redfoot tortoise.
Hah. Malti might as well have been a hummingbird or a mountain goat for all she prepared me to parent Bruce.
Their personalities – so different. Their daily habits – so different. Hobbies – so very different. Weight, width, length, looks, mobility – different, different and oh-so-different.
In fact, pretty much the only thing they seemed to have in common was the shared shells adorning their top halves!
This difference also extended to their respective dining preferences.
Malti isn’t exactly what we’d call a gal who wants to work for her supper. She prefers it already dead, chopped up into bite-sized pieces, and (if at all possible) handfed so she can enjoy her lunch with zero personal exertion.
And then there is Bruce. The first time I saw Bruce’s wild red eyes light up and begin to whirl intensely when I presented a live and wriggling mealworm….there really are no words for the transformation.
All of a sudden, his “inner predator” came out. Instead of the sweet, petite, shy little boxie I’d come to know, here was a ferocious slavering hyena moving in for the kill.
After a few rounds of Bruce’s now-trademarked “chase and chomp” hunting style (where I drop the mealworm down on the soil in front of him and then cheer and heckle as they duke it out), I started to wonder why this wasn’t a sport. it was just that exciting.
He has the same reaction to any still-living menu items. The other day I placed a large, live escargot into his habitat. Instantly, his body tensed. His eyes turned deep red and began to whirl. He arched his neck and dropped his head down to take a deep sniff.
I had to look away at that point. But when I next looked back, the escargot was nowhere to be found.