“Employee of the Month”

I recently told you about Sam, our desert tortoise who was turtle-napped from our back yard. It was quite a loss in that we all enjoyed feeding Sam and watching him as he enjoyed his snacks. He was a quiet and gentle spirit and it was pleasant just to sit beside him and share his peacefulness.

Our next experience with desert tortoises didn’t go as well. Sometime after losing Sam, Pat was in the lunch room at work, enjoying her lunch and talking about pets with one of her co-workers. Pat had just finished telling about Sam and desert tortoises in general when a young man at the next table interrupted and introduced himself. He said he was a part-time employee and was having to move from a rental house to an apartment. A major problem was that he had 3 desert tortoises that had been with him for several years that he would have to give up. He wanted to be sure that the tortoises got a good home and would be understood and appreciated by those raising them. He said that he heard Pat talking about her tortoise and he thought she would be perfect to take care of his animals. They talked a little more and Pat agreed to take the tortoises. Pat gave the kid our address and that evening he delivered the 3 tortoises and told us a little bit about them. The largest tortoise was a mature male. The middle-sized one was a younger male, hardly more than a teenager, and the smallest tortoise was a female. We talked about caring for them and then the young man thanked us profusely for taking them and left.

The next day was a Saturday and we were all at home. Suddenly, from the back yard we heard these terrible sounds and my first thought was that something was killing our new tortoises. We went running to the back yard and were shocked to see the older male on top of the female and humping away like crazy. With every thrust he made, he would let out a groan that could be heard half-way up the block. It had never occurred to me that a tortoise could be such a randy S.O.B. as this guy. Over the next few days we managed to embarrass family, friends, and most of the neighborhood. This turtle was as regular as clockwork. It was as if he was carrying a lunch pail and showed up for work every day like he was bucking for “Employee of the Month”. I mean, he was on the job!

Prior to writing this, I thought I would review what I knew about desert tortoises. Here’s one sentence from the Wikipedia paragraph on reproduction: “The male may make grunting noises once atop a female, and may move front legs up and down in a constant motion, as if playing a drum.”

A few days pass and Pat is again in the lunchroom at work. She is at a table next to a young man who is telling a couple of employees of his future plans. He says he is only working part-time because he attends San Diego State and is majoring in zoology. He loves animals and is especially intrigued by the animals and reptiles of the desert. He said he  has a particular interest in the desert tortoise. He said he built a compound for desert tortoises in his parent’s back yard and though he only had 2 tortoises now, he hoped to acquire more very soon. At this point, Pat realizes her good fortune and interrupts. She tells the kid that she has 3 wonderful desert tortoises, 2 males and 1 female that she is trying to place in a good home. “Do you think you might be interested”, she asks? The kid can hardly talk fast enough to accept and thank her and tell her what a wonderful person she is. They discuss the details and he cmes to the house that night and picks up the tortoises. Good job, Pat!

Dave Thomas
September 24, 2014


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