Today I am really excited to introduce you to a new member of the Fluffy Jellyfish family!! This is Elvis…
Elvis is a 20 year-old Hermann’s Tortoise (Testudo hermanni). Hermann’s Tortoises are part of a group of Tortoises referred to as Mediterranean Tortoises. In the wild, these tortoises live in rocky hillsides and the Oak and Beech forests of the Mediterranean, where there is plenty of warm sunshine, and very little rainfall. In the wild, the IUCN Red List has classified the Hermann’s Tortoise as Near Threatened. The reduction in numbers is mainly due to road mortality, poaching for the pet trade, and habitat destruction. This is why it is so important that you do your research before getting any pet, and in a case like this make sure to only go for a captive bred Tortoise, or even better is to rehome or adopt your new friend (in Scotland, the best place to do this is the SSPCA). The Hermann’s Tortoise will rarely grow larger than 18cm and this species usually lives to about 50 years, but the oldest recorded pet Hermann’s Tortoise was 110 years old!!
We adopted Elvis from a friend of friend, who was looking to re-home him. I am so glad that Elvis found his way from his first family to the owner we got him from, they really saved his life. He had been housed in a small vivarium for the whole of his life, and we were told that he had not been given any lighting, and that his heat source was not regulated. He was only being a fed a handful of bagged salad leaves every couple of days, which is not even nearly enough, and he most likely was going without any calcium or vitamin supplements.
The situation was so bad, that not long after moving in with his second family, Elvis collapsed, and had to be rushed to the vets. He was diagnosed with metabolic bone disease, and severe undernourishment. He was put on a mix of critical care, which was fed through a feeding tube. Luckily, Elvis is a little fighter, and he soon started to put on weight, and was moved back on to solid foods, and a proper diet.
Elvis also whistles! This noise would most commonly be associated with a respiratory infection, but in Elvis’s case it is due to the malformation of his shell. We brought up this concern with his vet during his initial check-up with us, and were told that it is sadly something Elvis will have throughout his life. His malformed beak, and jaw, also contribute to the whistling noise… and give Elvis a bit of a crooked smile!
While all of these factors show off exactly what not to do with your pet tortoise, and showcase what bad husbandry and a lack of research can lead to, Elvis will be able to live out the rest of his life with only a few adaptations to a normal tortoise lifestyle! He is a little fighter, and a great character, and we have completely fallen in love with him already!!
At the moment, Elvis is living in a temporary home. We have set up the vivarium that he came with inside an old IKEA bookcase. We filled it with topsoil, and have added a few fun additions for him. There are a few hides, banked up dirt for him to climb in, a big terracotta dish for him to soak in, a mineral block (which he completely ignores!), some climbing rocks, and a pretty clam shell. This enclosure is much better than what he was in before, but it is not his final home! When we move out of my parents house, Stuart is going to get his carpenter hat on and he is already brimming with ideas for the build. Elvis is going to have a custom-built indoor tortoise table for when the weather is bad, and when the weather is good he will live in a huge outdoor enclosure! We want to make sure we get a home with a garden, so we can build him an outdoor run for the summer months. We are hoping to move out of here towards the summer, so it should be perfect timing to introduce Elvis to the great outdoors!
We are so happy to have Elvis in our family! I can’t wait to give him the home he has always deserved! I am a new Tortoise parent, so if you have any tips for me on the care of this little dude, or any tips on custom-building his house, do leave them in the comments below! I’d really appreciate any advice to make this little man’s life the best it can be!
Fluffy Jellyfish out.