Herman’s afternoon nap was interrupted by the sound of the lights in his home being taken down. This did not overly concern him because the lights had been changed quite a bit recently. Then he heard his food dish and basking pond being removed. Again, common enough occurrences, and not much cause for alarm. In fact, Herman remained calm throughout the removal of the cacti, the broad leaves that provided shade and even his tree stump in which he took shelter to sleep. However, as soon as he was squeezed into a plastic container he realized that his afternoon had taken a decidedly unpleasant turn. Because this time it wasn’t just a new light, or new items in his home. Herman knew that the plastic container meant that his whole home was moving. This had happened to him a number of times in the past year, often for a short time while his guardian was on a trip. It wasn’t the idea of taking a trip that bothered Herman so much as the fact that he’d done some growing in the past few months and was no longer comfortable inside his travel carrier. He peed inside the carrier to let the guardian know that he was not happy, which was absorbed by the paper towel that had been placed there for his comfort. Herman’s distress was duly noted and a larger, roomer carrier was quickly arranged for his return trip.
Bathing outside his home was a fairly new experience for Herman and he had yet to make his mind up about whether he enjoyed it or not. One advantage was that the bathing water was often an excellent temperature for him, while the water in the basking pond tended to be too cool for his liking. On the other hand, a major disadvantage was that he was often napping, or about to nap, when the guardian decided it was time for a bath, whereas he could wash himself in the basking pond at any time he chose. The oddest part of the whole exercise was that bathing was followed by being dried off in a towel. He wasn’t sure what to think about the towel. It was soft, so that was nice, but you couldn’t eat it, so that was less nice. The more he thought about it, the more he decided that baths would be much better if you could just eat the towel after you used it to dry yourself off.
Of the leafy vegetables that Herman had recently been fed, Herman found that escarole was his favourite after kale. Kale, of course, was at the top of his list but had become less frequent after the guardian had been advised that large amounts could upset his stomach. He understood that tomorrow there would be endive, romaine and perhaps some pansies added to his usual meal, and was interested to find out if he would have a new second favourite.
Herman had a lot of things to do today; he had to search his food bowl for carrots, confirm that the cacti hadn’t moved by going around them, test the water in his basking pond to see if it had warmed up to a suitable temperature for wading and keep an eye out for Lucy, the dog. But first on his list of things to do was bask and take a nap. How could he be expected to do the rest of the items on his list if he wasn’t fully rested?
As Herman ate his late night meal he thought about the past three weeks and all the new things that had happened to him; the new location, the new guardian, the guardian’s dog, the new food, the new world outside his home, the new landscaping inside his home and the introduction of bath time. All of these things could have created a great deal of stress for a little Hermann tortoise, causing him not to eat, or oversleep, or hide all the time. But Herman was an easy going tortoise, and had learned that change was good and brought good things. Like the times when his previous guardian took him to wander outside – a place beyond the world outside his home, and graze on grass and dandelions, bask in natural sunlight, and play hide-and-go-seek (a game he always won by being the last one to be found). He wondered if he would get to play hide-and-go-seek again, but it seemed cold outside and he was happy doing what he was doing, eating.
With the new heat/ UV lamp working on a timer, Herman’s mornings for the past couple of days had been easy and relaxed. However, the resulting change in the placement of Herman’s tree stump in his home had an unexpected and unwelcome result. The guardian was no longer leaving the blinds open during the day because he had enough heat in his home, but as she got ready for work she liked to have them open to provide more light. Although Herman also enjoyed natural sunlight, he did not particularly like it invading the cozy darkness of his tree stump. After noticing the problem, the guardian closed the blind that was causing him problems, but not before making sure to document his discomfort.
Herman woke up slowly on Sunday, taking his time under the basking lamp before checking out his morning meal. After an hour of blissful heat, Herman took a great big yawn and ambled over to his food dish. He was enjoying the escarole quite a bit, but he’d had it for a week now and by Herman’s calculations, it was time for the guardian to present him with something new.
Saturday was an eventful day for Herman since the guardian was around during the day to monitor the heat in his home. He had a lot more energy thanks to the fixed heat lamp and, unlike the last time he ventured out into the world outside his home, was quite curious about the kitchen. He found that the stone floor had patches that were warmer than others, which he made note of for a time when he could wander around without the watchful eyes of Lucy.
The new lights have been set up and once again the tree stump, basking pond and eating platform have been moved. Herman spends the first half hour of his day lazily basking under the new heat lamp – rather than eating his morning meal as he has for the past three weeks, and watches the guardian as she gets ready for work. There will no doubt be more moving around in the future, but for now Herman is happy.
Herman was a patient tortoise. Over the past week or so he had done the best he could to communicate with the guardian that the basking area was lacking heat. He could see from the almost daily changes that the guardian was trying to fix the problem and he was confident that sooner or later she would figure it out. And this morning she did. When she replaced the ceramic heat emitter with a heat bulb she discovered that there was a problem with the lamp’s cord and needed to be replaced. After a quick fix got the heat lamp working again, Herman immediately settled in below it, pleased that his message had finally been heard.