African Spurred Tortoise Visits Den Herder Vet

We say it often. We see some of the neatest things in our clinic. And today was no exception. We were lucky to have Elliott, an 11-year-old African Spurred Tortoise, in for a check up from Dr. Cherney and a little deworming. The video shows how we gave him his medicine. Just don’t tell Elliott we hide it in an apple!

Elliott started out as a rescue from the Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project in April of 2013. He was up for sale at an exotic pet auction and rehabbers were concerned about his health and well-being. They decided to buy him to rescue him because he was filthy and in poor health. They cleaned him up and got him healthy. He has lived with a few rehabbers in the past year and now is permanently with one of our staff members, Rachel Shadle, a licensed rehabber as well.

tortoise walking in dandelionsElliott is a hefty 60 pounds and about the size of a spare tire. This won’t last long. He will eventually grow to 250 pounds. Amazing really given his diet consists only of leafy greens (e.g., dandelions, grass, and clover), carrots, and celery (and the occasional medicated apple).

In the video you may notice a blackish spot on one of the “horns” on his shell. This is a tracking device in case he escapes. Now, we realize the mental picture of a “tortoise on the loose” is laughable, but they are rather strong creatures who can knock down fences. Granted once they are out aren’t exactly making a run for it, but Rachel shared he can go a mile. In twenty minutes.

Tortoises have a lengthy lifespan, up to 100 years, so he will have plenty of time with Rachel. Elliott, for the timetransporting a tortoise in a wheelbarrow being, makes educational appearances in the area. If they can figure out how to move him easily and safely as he grows, he will continue those outings. And you thought it was hard to get your cat to the vet!

Rachel describes Elliott as very stubborn, but very sweet. Interestingly, tortoises do bond with humans. They are able to tell their caretaker from strangers based on voice and sight.

What unique gentle giants.

tortoise eating dandelions