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In South American where Malti’s species hails from, red footed tortoises are considered a…um…delicacy.
“Tortoise pie” is said to be a particular favorite on festive occasions.
When Malti first joined our little flock, she hid CONSTANTLY. And she was the size of a silver dollar, and her mama had packed her habitat with plenty of her very favorite burrowing material, sphagnum moss, which meant I really had to hunt to check on her!
Being new to the whole “tort mama” thing, I was convinced she was hiding because she hated me and hated living with me. I was so convinced I emailed her breeder for advice to make her more comfortable in her new forever home.
He told me all baby tortoises hide constantly. It is in their DNA – a part of their evolution – and really their only protection if they don’t want to become tortoise pie during the next round of national festivities.
Since then I have learned that, along with homo sapiens, pretty much everything likes to eat red footed tortoises as well, which naturally makes the deep, dark, dense forested areas their very favorite hiding places.
Today, when I see my no-longer-teensy but still-delicious juvenile tort artfully concealed beneath a stand of potted hibiscus or transplanted fern, I totally understand and praise her for finding such clever hiding places!