Thursday, February 7, 2013

Can a Tortoise Survive in a Box?

Recently on Facebook, my godson posted a link 
to a story by Stephen Messenger titled 
"Family Cleans House, Finds Pet Tortoise Missing Since 1982."
It appeared Feb 4, 2013 on Tree Hugger.

A strawberry stealing tortoise--usually how I see them around my house.

photo courtesy of

It is an incredible story. 
A red-footed tortoise survives in a storage room in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
for 30 years. Yes, three decades. 
In the US, that's all the way from Ronald Reagan's first term
to  Barack Obama's second.
From big hair and big shoulder pads to today's anything-goes fashions--
except mullet hair styles on men, that is.

Back in 1982, the family thought the tortoise had wandered away
while some remodeling work was being done on the house.
After the patriarch, who was described in some articles as a "hoarder," died,
 his family began cleaning out the house.
Only to discover their pet tortoise in a wooden box
they had placed on the curb.
The family speculated the tortoise had survived
by eating termites and other insects.
But can a tortoise survive 30 years in a box?

According to an article appropriately titled
"How did a Tortoise Survive 30 years in a Box?"
written by Richard Schiffman and posted here:
National Geographic Weird and Wild,
it is indeed possible.

Schiffman says the family's red-footed tortoise
probably survived by eating insects and licking condensation.
A heroic effort for sure,
but I don't care for the visual image I get
 of a tortoise licking up condensation in the dark of night.

Red-footed tortoise picture
red-footed tortoise file photo from
photo by Fabio Maffei, My Shot

Irrespective of that, the article says that it is quite common for tortoises
to be able to go into a kind of hibernation, heretofore documented at about 3 years.
Our Brazilian turtle beats the record by a mile.

Which adds further credence to Aesop's Fable
about the superior nature of the tortoise compared to the hare.
Sometimes going slooooooooooooow
is the only way to travel.

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