Malti is a red-foot tortoise (you can tell by all the red dots on her feet).
Are you sure she’s a girl?
Yup. We’re sure. We knew for certain when a recent CT scan revealed (non-fertile) eggs developing inside her abdomen!
How did you & Malti meet?
“Malti” is an Indian girl’s name meaning “small fragrant jasmine flower.” After many months of sharing life together, I can verify she smells like nothing of the sort. But I’ve always loved the name, so Malti it is.
Malti was an impulse purchase, which is pretty much the worst kind when you are purchasing a living being that will need a lifetime of love and care. What happened was, I had had an argument with my significant other and was supposed to be researching apartments on the internet. Instead, I entered a search for “reptiles.” Up popped the cutest baby turtle face I’d ever seen (which in fact I later learned was a baby tortoise face – there are some important differences I’ll get into elsewhere on this site).
I was hooked. The ad said “baby tortoises in need of rehoming.” I emailed and volunteered my home. Three days later I found myself in possession of a silver dollar-sized bundle of red dots with wild black eyes and the kind of hair-trigger startle reflexes you usually only find in Wild West gunslingers. And so our journey began…and continues.
Can you tell me more about Malti’s species?
Red-foot tortoises (Chelonoidis carbonaria) hail from tropical South America. Their habitats can vary greatly depending on the region of their birth, but by and large they tend to be found in dense forest areas with lots of underbrush and not a lot of direct sunlight. As such, their living quarters in captivity must mimic the warmth and humidity they would get in the wild.
Red-footed tortoises can grow as large as 19″ long and live for 50+ years. Their bodies are strong and solid and as they grow up their front legs become especially well-developed for digging and walking. To me, their back legs look like mini-elephant legs. Totally cute. They have great vision and smell (hearing not so much) and are very smart and curious.