An Unusual Kind of Babysitting

Ben and I have got various young cousins – after having no younger cousins for 20 years, 3 suddenly came along in quick succession from aunts and uncles on either side of our family that we hadn’t ever expected to have children. So we quite quickly became go to babysitters – not something that I’m complaining about because I love spending time with them and playing with my old toys that get dragged down from my parents’ attic.
But today, I’m not talking about babysitting kids, I’m talking about something a bit more unusual – this:

Babysitting a tortoise

Meet Tort. Technically this is DLF – Dear Little Friend – but affectionately known by all of us as just “Tort”. He is Charley’s tortoise, and when Charley goes away, Tort becomes my responsibility. Again, not something I’m ever going to complain about because LOOK AT HIM! We’ve babysat Tort various times in his life – Charley has taken some pretty awesome trips and we live close enough by that he can easily be dropped off and picked up again.

I say easily, but tortoises come with quite a lot of equipment and have some very specific needs. When he first came to visit, he was only small and spent half his time in a terrarium – a small tank with a light inside – and the other half in his own purpose built (by Charley and Frankie) tortoise table. He’s now most definitely outgrown his cosy terrarium and has in fact outgrown his original tortoise table too! He’s now got a bigger tortoise table with higher sides, but when he comes to visit, he comes with his old table which is a lot easier to transport, although this does mean that we encounter some rather daring escapes!
He also must travel with a few other things, including his heat lamp and spare bulbs (we used to say “just in case”, but those bulbs have died twice now so it’s very good we’ve had them as tortoises can quickly get chilly), substrate for the bottom of his table, all his “furniture” (including a Casa del Tortie – again, handmade by Charley and Frankie), supplement for his food and a water spray bottle.
There have been a few times where I’ve panicked that we’re not doing something right and have had to Google it to make sure I’m providing Tort with the best care and attention he can get. The RSPCA is awesome for this as they’ve created some really helpful content here to make sure that exotic pets like Tort are getting the right attention when people choose them as pets.
Feeding Tort is one of the things I worried most about at first, but luckily Charley gave me plenty of advice and the internet has been there for any not sures that I have encountered. This tortoise is a big fan of grated carrot as a treat, but not too much!

Do you have an exotic pet? What kind of needs do they have? It’s very different to having cats!

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