Saturday, February 27, 2010

Give the tortoise a drink – but be patient

- Hugh Forsyth -

Subsequent to a few words that appeared in the January edition of this esteemed publication a valuable lesson has been learnt about giving a tortoise a drink – be patient. My Klipstraat neighbour of four doors down, Ms Gill Hall, a vegetarian but a decent soul none-the-less, recently found a big bergskilpad in the road and invited it in. She offered it a dish of tap water (yes, we had water) and the tortoise hissed at her most aggressively. This display of hostility from one vegetarian to another is most odd, but perhaps tortie was stressed. Sensibly, Ms Hall stood well back and waited. The bergskilpad relaxed and drank its fill, said grace and left for the hills.

By the way, research has revealed that the Bergskilpad or Leopard Tortoise, or Geochelone pardalis in Latin (Bell, 1828) is water dependant, must drink regularly and can actually float in water and can even swim, though very slowly. In captivity it has been recorded as having a lifespan of up to 75 years. It is possible that in its later years it may check in nicely as a youthful face in the Thursday Group. If you would like more detailed information on the bergskilpad, contact the writer.

In the November edition of the Friend there was an article about the water pipeline from the mountain to the town, including the good news that there would be several drinking places along the pipeline so that tortoises and other animals could slake their thirst.

For quite a long time these drinking points were bone dry. However, in early February work was done on them and indications are that they now contain water. Let us hope that they remain full and tortoise-friendly.

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