Malti Explains Redfoot Tortoises: Squirming

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Malti, snoozing away under her heat lamp “post fall.”

I don’t really like to tell this story, on account of how I think the moment I do, the turtle police will show up and cart me off to wherever they incarcerate delinquent tortoise parents.


But it needs to be told, on the off chance somebody who has a turtle or tortoise and doesn’t know that shelled beings squirm might stumble upon this blog, read this particular post and learn from my mistakes.

This particular mistake involved bathrooming (for more on that topic, you can read this post instead).

Malti had just “turtled” (what her mama calls going #2) quite a lot in her indoor habitat, where she was living until outside temperatures warmed up again.

(I had just put her in there, too….I think she’s figured out that when I put her in her habitat and she doesn’t want to be in there, she can just turtle and I’ll take her right out again. It totally works, too.)

So I looked into her habitat, saw she had turtled, and immediately lifted her out, holding her with one hand while I located her bathing bin, got the water warm and waited for it to fill up with the other hand.

Here, it is important to mention that in general, tortoises and turtles don’t much like to be held, and they definitely don’t like to be held up in the air.

So there I am. I’m standing at the sink and holding her, getting the water temp just right, and in the interim, she gets squirmy. And she was more slippery than usual (see “turtling”).

Suddenly, she had squirmed her way out of my left hand and hurtled down towards the floor….which she landed on with her NOSE.

Yup. My juvenile tortoise, all one-pound-something of her, landed on the tile right on her teensy tiny tort nose.

Which then proceeded to turn red. And swell up. And send me right to the internet to google “I dropped my baby tortoise from a height…”….

The internet taught me that I could expect one of four outcomes, generally speaking: a) she could be fine; b) she could have a concussion; c) she could have internal bleeding; d) she could have both b and c.

I proceeded to come down with four days’ worth of migraines while I vigilantly watched her eat and walk and sleep under the heat lamp, with intermittent breaks to dab lidocaine onto the tip of her nose with a Q-tip (not vet sanctioned, but it was all I had for the pain I assumed she must be feeling).

After four days, her nose was normal-colored and normal-sized again and my migraines eased up.

I have also begun to notice for the first time how often I need to lift her up for some reason. So now I try to use both hands and not do anything else while I’m lifting her in or out of somewhere, and I have found a little basket with a handle I can use to carry her longer distances, such as into and out of our casa.

And remember…..

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Published by Shannon Cutts

Animal sensitive and intuitive with Animal Love Languages. Parrot, tortoise and box turtle mama. Dachshund auntie.

2 thoughts on “Malti Explains Redfoot Tortoises: Squirming

  1. Love the intro, explaining who everyone is, in the off chance a newbie stumbled onto the site. Then the actual story is def scarey forany mommy. Your stories and articles are grrreaat! Thanks

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