dimanche 15 février 2009

Freddy the tortoise

Freddy is very old, about maximum for a Herman's tortoise - he is more than 60 years old. He has been in our family for most of his life, having been brought to the UK in the 1940's. No one can remember him having been any smaller than he is now, so we presume he was already adult. A great many tortoises were brough over from europe and north Africa at this time, they were very popular pets. He lived all his life with my husband's Nan until she was too old to look after him, then he was passed on to her daughter, my mother-in-law, until she went into sheltered accomodation. Now he is our responsibility. We repatriated him to France 6 years ago, a year after we moved here, Herman's tortoise are resident down here in the south of France. When we brought him out here we had no idea that there were any restrictions on movements. My husband just put him in the foot well of the passenger seat in the car and drove him here, he was just waking up from hibernation and with the car heating he was very active by the time he arrived.

We took our new responsibility very seriously and I did much research on the internet to give him the best possible retirement. For many years he was subjected to the then Blue Peter hibernation system - pack them away in October until March without lookng at them......I am surprised he survived. Blue Peter is now a much better informed children's TV series I am happy to say.

He has a very large pen, planted with bushes and landscaped with different strata, covered with netting here because of eagles, foxes and martens, he has a Flintsone's type stone hill with a tunnel for shelter underneath when it is very hot, and a shallow pond. In fact it gets so hot here he goes into Estivation, the summer form of hibernation. I had never seen him do this in the UK.

He had a companion until last year, an Iberian tortoise called Benji, who unfortunately died, of old age, having been brought to the UK not long after Freddy, he moved to France with Freddy. We are looking for another companion but do realise Freddy is now very old, we are also retired now and so we are considering the possibility of rehoming him at a tortoise sanctuary near here, just outside Perpignan. Until then he is well loved and has loads of visitors, he is alert and seems to know his name, if we stand in his pen he comes and stands on our feet.

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