News & Features
Interviews with people who own unusual animals
Published: February 6, 2013
I have moved twice since I've owned him, so I've had to move him twice and figure out a living situation for him. That's probably the most complicated thing, the bigger he gets. He's curious, so in some places I've lived, he's gotten out and we had to put up missing posters, but we've always gotten him back.
What does a tortoise like to do? Does he swim? We've taken him to a dock. He doesn't like water because he's a land tortoise, but he would throw the sand on his back, which I've been told they do to keep cool in the desert. I used to live on Central, and there is a park I used to walk him to, but he's pretty heavy. I feel like he's so interesting on his own. He's really one of the most gentle pets I have ever had. You can touch him on his head, his face, his neck, which isn't normal, I feel like, for wild animals. He's an interesting animal to watch; his shell is beautiful, it's a work of art.
What does he eat? The most important thing [for him] is green foods. He definitely likes strawberries and bananas and fruit, but those aren't the most nutritious things for him. I feel like calcium and, from what I've read, mustard greens, collard greens, kale, all the rich greens are good for him. The only thing to watch out for with him is how high in protein they can be, like spinach. He doesn't need that much, just a little bit.
Describe a typical day for Garbanzo. Well, from what I know, he comes out of his burrow around 11 a.m., maybe later if it's colder out, if he comes out at all. If it's cold, he may stay in all day. He's a forager, so he's always slowly moving, chewing. … He'll eat a pile of food in one sitting, so it's a little different from what he would do in the wild. He just walks around. He likes interacting with things. I feel like he likes interacting. When it's hot out, I mist him with the hose, because he can get dehydrated. Then he returns to his burrow around five o'clock before it gets too dark.
You said you've lost Garbanzo a couple of times when he got out. How many times has he run away from home? Three. I'm grateful because people always return him. [Tortoises like him] have been stolen out of pet stores. Most of the time he was down the street. The second time he escaped, he was in somebody's garden. They found it pretty entertaining and they actually fed him. Only one time did somebody get angry, and I think they were going to take him inside of their house. In the last year he's lived here, he hasn't gotten out, so it's easy on my mind.
Do you have any interesting stories about Garbanzo? I don't have any other interesting stories, but I definitely feel a connection with him. I sometimes have dreams about him, especially in the cold months, because we don't see him for a few days.