The Strange Case of Toby Tortoise

Tabitha Tortoise

31st January 2014 by

We had such a delightful email from our Aunties John and Pat  last week (pictured below with various of their Animal Aunts  charges)  as follows:

“In 1999 we found Animal Aunts and now in our 15th year we can’t thank you all enough for all our assignments, the places we’ve been, the homes we’ve stayed in, the clients, many of whom are now friends, which would not have been possible without the wonderful pets and animals we have looked after, and to you in the office.”

Their constant companion during their 15 years on the road is Toby the Tortoise and we thought you would like to read an excerpt from Toby’s extraordinary life story.

Spring came later than usual and although Toby had gone down for hibernation on the 20th October 2000 he was still asleep when the first sunny days of March 2001 eventually came. I left him to stir naturally and by early April he was taking notice of the outside world and wanted out. After the routine check-up and warm bathing he was eating almost straight away. So many summers and so many winters have come and gone over the 53 years I have had Toby. Many have come and passed almost unnoticed and I’ve wondered where in the world they have gone. Toby sleeps, wakes up and sleeps again for such a short season of the year. Toby is Toby and he’s always been there, very much a part of the family life. Perhaps, at times I’ve taken him too much for granted especially when everything is going well. He ate very well that summer, all his favourite foods were readily available strawberries, clover and dandelions in abundance. I was in Cheshire during the months of July and August and the conditions for Toby were ideal… a large garden with spacious lawn and I could watch him safely from the kitchen window and so total freedom for him was an added bonus. There was also a beautiful conservatory where he could wander to his hearts content and bask in the sun. Towards the end of August all was not well, a small lumpPat-Sharp appeared on Toby’s rear end and he seemed unable to retract it. Gradually the lump increased in size and I knew I needed help and expert advice – but from where and from whom? Toby had never seen a vet in over 50 years, and our local veterinary practice had never seen a pet tortoise. Much discussion with the family took place. I was due to see my daughter in Cambridge and so decided to take Toby with me as my daughter had already recommended me to her veterinary surgeon and he was only in the next village. We travelled the 250 miles with Toby to see him and although he acknowledged his knowledge was limited, fortunately for me he knew a lady in Cambridge whose expertise was tortoises and who had in fact been recommended to me by the Tortoise Trust when I rang them up for advice, so I felt Toby was in the right hands at the right time. Sadly I had to leave Toby with the practice so that they could find the cause of the problem and deal with it. I travelled the 250 miles back to Wales without my favourite pet. I will never, ever, be able to describe my feelings at that stage. Over 53 years and not having been away from Toby for more than a couple of weeks at a time. Even worse was the fact that I didn’t know if I would see him alive again. The veterinary surgeon kept me informed at every level of investigation and encouraged me to be calm and be patient as with all reptiles things work very slowly. A Cloacae prolapse was the diagnosis and an operation needed. I was beside myself. Late in the evening of the operation the first piece of news was as follows, which came by way of a telephone call from the vet and was also very embarrassing but also rather funny, as that, upon examination Toby was not a male as I had thought but female and the vet renamed her Tabitha straightaway. The John-Sharpsecond piece of news was that she had come through the operation and was doing well. That was the best news ever and I was smiling again To my knowledge Tabitha has never laid any eggs so perhaps there is still a ? My gender management skills, nought out of ten. At the age often when I purchased Tabitha I was not very sex conscious and as I had no intention of breeding from her the gender was not important. The age and country of origin played a far more important role in my learning about tortoises. Again I took it for granted that my tortoise was male hence the name Toby, how wrong I was, from now on she will be referred to as Tabitha. She came through the operation with flying colours and after 7 weeks I was able to travel the 250 miles to take my beloved pet home to West Wales

Filled under: Uncategorized