Follow Pearl, Malti, Bruce & Io
I can’t remember where I read it, but early on in my journey to learn how to become a tortoise mama, I read somewhere that tortoises don’t like it when you change their environment.
Unfortunately, I moved a lot the first couple of years Malti was with me (she is turning three and a half this May) and she also grew a lot during that time.
So there was a LOT of change! Her habitat kept changing, growing in width and height as she grew in width and height.
I also had to change where her habitat was positioned in our casa depending on the layout of each new place.
And I kept having to change the furnishings in her enclosure, depending on how persistent she became in trying to climb things that weren’t meant to be climbed or burrow under things that weren’t meant to be burrowed under.
But with all this change, I also noticed how quickly she noticed anything new that I had added or changed! She would go right over to investigate, seeming very intensely interested in each little adjustment.
As she’s gotten bigger and transitioned to living outdoors in a 6-foot by 3.5-foot outdoor enclosure, I’ve often worked on her habitat while she is inside the enclosure. She seems to love this!
In fact, she will come right up to where I’m planting something new or trying to add rocks or wood chips or a new pond or some other new feature, totally getting in the way of whatever I’m attempting to accomplish because she wants to see what’s going on.
Because of this, I don’t really worry anymore that changing her environment stresses her out. However, I do try not to change it too terribly much, outside of the seasonal re-plantings and safety adjustments and the necessary re-plantings when she’s decided to eat her plants or sit on them until they finally give up and turn into compost.
But inside the house too, if I change anything up – and I do this rather frequently – she notices right away and heads over to investigate. She just seems so intrigued – really alive and alert and so curious – often she tries to bite at the new addition, exploring it with her mouth just like a young child might do.
Recently, I added a new mosquito screen over the front door. Not surprisingly, Malti noticed right away. She would go over and bat at it with her front paw, then retreat, then go bump it with her nose, then walk away, then come back, approaching it from the front, and the side, and then the other side….it was clear she had never seen anything like it before.