How do I sex a tortoise?

Like crazed piranhas

I have just become the proud caretaker for four tortoises. Alex, my beautiful American roommate called me up from the Medina to discuss buying them. It is actually quite a hard dilemma, because on the one hand you don’t want to perpetrate the trade in them but on the other hand, you have the chance to give four of them a nice life. Nice life won!

I’ve never had a tortoise so had low expectations. But in fact they are both lovely and fascinating. This is what I have learnt, in no particular order.

1. They love lettuce like I love cakes, diving in like crazed piranhas when faced with a pile of the greenstuff.

2. They are great climbers, scaling stones and hose pipes with aplomb.

3. They are very lazy in the morning, even lettuce won’t wake them.

4. They are not that slow and they can cover a lot of ground for little fellas.

5. They like having their chins tickled.

6. They pee on you if you hold them for too long.

7. They are fearless and will launch themselves over drops three times their height with no regard for life or limb.

8. They snuggle up for the night in little burrows that the make under the stones.

9. They aren’t very sociable, after lunch time they all scoot off to their separate areas of the garden, without stopping for a chat.

10. They embrace non-gender roles – well what that means is I have NO idea how to sex them.

Am looking forward to finding out more over the next 100 or so years – apparently they live a long, long time.



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