For the past three days Herman had been able to graze outside for her dinner, and she was disappointed that the weather had taken a cold turn. The guardian, on the other hand, was happy that there were now enough weeds outside to start feeding Herman directly out of the garden. Paying $6 per bunch of organic dandelions was not something the guardian enjoyed.
Herman did not enjoy visiting the vet. But, over the past few weeks the guardian had noticed that Herman hadn’t been pooping and she got concerned. After a thorough examination which included X-rays, blood tests (which Herman HATED) more X-rays and poop analysis it was determined that Herman was seriously dehydrated. The guardian was very sad that she’d let Herman get so sick over the winter. She’d been giving her baths, but not daily and it was clear that Herman didn’t get any of the hydration she needed from the pond. And so, Herman went home with four medications and an IV bag full of reptile fluids that the guardian would have to inject near her bum. On the bright side, an excellent way to rehydrate a tortoise was to feed them watermelon, which the guardian hoped would make up for the daily pokes.
Herman had come a long way from the vivarium she was raised in as a little shell. She now had a luxurious split-level tortoise table and a brand new (not quite ready) outdoor garden. It had been an unusually mild winter and the guardian was already out, removing pup poop, sifting out the rocks Herman loved to eat and installing the wire netting that would protect her from the hawks that lived in the nearby bird sanctuary.
Herman didn’t hibernate, but after a 548 day online absence it felt like she had been asleep for ages. Not much had happened except for the fact that the guardian found out she was a girl. Oh, and a new garden had been created outside just for her (more on that later).
As often happens with plants, even fake ones, the giant leaves next to Herman’s pond had started to droop. The result was that Herman now had a perfect view of the food bowl while remaining hidden. The guardian briefly considered fixing it, but she didn’t want to spoil Herman’s fun.
When Herman woke up, he woke up to an empty food bowl. It was tough, but he tried not to let it get him down. Today, though, he found it very difficult to keep his spirits up. Not only was his food bowl empty, but the pond had been drained dry. No food and no water! He was so distraught that he sat in the barren pond until the guardian woke up and filled it. So great was his relief at having the pond replenished that he waited until breakfast was served to leave.
Herman understood that the guardian would continue to make little changes until she felt comfortable with the arrangement of things in his new home, but he didn’t have to like it.
After two weeks of changing Herman’s pond water daily (despite the fact that he not only ignored it, but actively seemed to avoid it), the guardian became quite pleased when she saw him climbing the ramp. She was quickly disappointed, however, when it became clear that Herman was just looking for breakfast and thought it might be hiding in the pond.
As Herman’s grazing time outside dwindled, the guardian was once again scanning the produce section for new, but healthy things for Herman to eat. She’d been following startortoise, whose beautiful Indian star tortoises loved the okra (AKA lady fingers) they got once a week. So, when she found some in the grocery store she bought a few to see if Herman would eat them. He loved them. Which immediately made the guardian suspicious. A quick check on The Tortoise Table’s plant database confirmed that okra was not, in fact, an approved food for Hermann’s tortoises. Perhaps next time she’d check the database first, before feeding Herman something she’d seen being fed to other species of tortoises.
After months of tremendous effort, Herman finally managed to reach the lip of his plastic bath tub. He wasn’t there for long and he wasn’t able to do it again that day, but he proved he could do it, and that was all the encouragement he needed to keep trying to escape.