Friday, 7 January 2011

A tale of two tortoises

As long as there has been a bit of rain, Summer is the time of the herps (reptiles and amphibians). These primeval creatures come out from wherever they have been chilling, and walk the streets like they own them.

The other day I was driving back from Uniondale when I passed a small tortoise on the road. On stopping to check it out I thought “Yay, a padlooper” as these are South Africa's smallest group of tortoises. Except back home the little thing didn't fit any padlooper description. Turns out its a baby Leopard Tortoise, the most common tortoise in these parts. I think tortoises are a bit of a reverse situation of the ugly duckling, shame for them.

So pretty, its as though its painted! Apparently shells of new born tortoises are soft.

Are those meant to be scarey eye markings on the shell?

Baby tortoises aren't the handful they are made out to be

Shame. This is what that cute thing is going to grow up to look like.

A lot rarer – in fact the only one I've seen so far – is the Angulate Tortoise. This is fairly common around Cape Point, Cape Town. Luckly, they are very easy to tell apart from any other tortoise given the triangular markings at the base of their shells.

Amazing Angulate Tortoise Fact: they can drink by sucking up water through their nostrils, according to A Guide to the Reptiles of Southern Africa

No animals were hurt or injured in the making of this blog.  

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