Contrasting Worlds


It's 15°F outside and we've gotten more than a foot of new snow in the last twelve hours.

I always enjoy spending time with my tortoises, always enjoy caring for them, always enjoy watching them explore their enclosures, always enjoy listening to them crunching their way through a meal, always enjoy watching them bask for UV and/or heat... but never more than when the difference between the world outside and the worlds I've created for them inside are vastly different.

Their enclosures have different temperatures, but the coolest part of the least heated enclosure (Chili's, one of my Russians) is around 65°F; the warmest baseline temperature is in my Redfoot Darwin's enclosure, which is around 90°F at it's coolest this week because she sounded as though she had a bit of a respiratory infection, so I raised the temps 5°F over normal to hopefully support her recovery. 

All of the tortoises enjoy eating dandelions and plantago and other weeds from the lawn during the warm months, but all of that is buried and frozen under a blanket of snow now, so they're enjoying "Spring Mix" from Hannafords, along with some other treats to celebrate the snow (butternut squash for the Russians, animal protein in the form of Reptilinks for the forest tortoises). 

I know people who have giant tortoises that get out in the snow from time to time to explore the winter wonderland and forage for fresh greenery under the white stuff, but my torts couldn't manage it without running the risk of illness, so they'll never see snow, much less plow through it with their shells.

Keeping temperate and tropical tortoises is hubris, and magnificent, and cool. The feeling of pushing back against nature and making a small pocket of the climate that they need to thrive and survive is wonderful. I feel it most on the days when snow is falling and temperatures are well below freezing outside.

They're unaware of the steps I've taken, modifying their environments to allow them to live with us here in New Hampshire; that means it's working.

This is a picture of Chili basking under his UV lamp and heater, taken today, while the snow still falls outside.