Felix felt like sleeping inside last night. He saw the back door open while I was letting the dogs back in and came trundling over to try to climb the small step up through the doorway. He probably could have made it if he tried really hard, but he stopped after a couple of attempts and then stared at me until I scooped him up and deposited him inside.

He wandered for a bit, then found a carpeted corner in the living room and went to sleep. I had to wake him this morning to bring him back outside. He’s gotten so big. He’s weighing in at 10.5 pounds at the moment. He doesn’t look so big in this photo, but he’s gotten to a point where he’s outgrowing Kloe’s gigantic head.

Torts know what they want and they don’t care if it confuses you. Actually? They like it more if it does.


Stephanie with a Sulcata tortoise, the largest mainland tortoise in Africa. 

Sulcata tortoise, also known as African spurred tortoise, can be found in the southern parts of the Sahara. The Sulcata tortoise inhabits deserts, dry savannas and hot, arid areas.

Let’s learn about Sulcata Torts! The torts that ram things best! 

Summer is here! That special time of year that inspires a particularly strong trouble making instinct in our shell friends. For Speedbump the 15-year-old, 75lb, sulcata,  that meant a third escape from his home in El Dorado, NM. It also meant 3 days of worry for his human family.

Speedbump’s latest adventure began after he managed to push open a gate and wander a half mile into the hills behind his house. Thankfully, as he attempted to cross a busy road, he was spotted by drivers who put him in their car for safety.

After contacting animal control, who were unsure what to do with him,  the drivers brought him to one of their own neighbors. A neighbor that happened to have a sulcata tortoise himself. He kindly agreed to foster speedbump till his owner was found. Thankfully, Speedbump’s human had contacted animal control himself, trying to find his missing shell friend, and he was put in touch with the neighbor who had him.

Another happy ending for Speedbump. He is back home having made several new friends, humans, and a tortoise just like him. His owner has now placed two 100 pound blocks of wood in front of the gate to ensure Speedbump doesn’t make a fourth escape.  

According to his owner, “The only way he’s going to get out now, is if he learns to fly.”  I don’t know, in tortoise terms that sounds like a challenge!


Time to play my least favorite game: how did the #tortoise get out of the yard? Thank God for good neighbors who put her in their bathtub.

It takes a village… and a lot of precautions, always keeping an eye out, and lots of anxiety…. because these guys are strong willed and ready to make trouble. You can’t help but love them to pieces even when they give you a minor heart attack. 

Being owned by a Sulcata is hard.





Piggy was so excited when I found our first dandelions of the spring

She’s pretty dirty… she was taking a snack break from working on her burrow


Piggy is a 10 yo sulcata. She was rescued by my family as a hatchling with shell rot, soft shell, and a severe respiratory infection from extremely poor care and neglect in what was essentially a puppy mill for tortoises. Her underbite was likely caused by these poor conditions and she occasionally needs to be taken to get it filed down, not a fun task with a 60lb monster.
She was originally rescued along with one more sulcata tortoise who died from her illnesses shortly after despite the expensive veterinary care and medication.

Sulcata tortoises are unfortunately frequent victims of impulse buys from people who simply think they’re cool and don’t bother to learn proper care for the species. These are the third largest species of tortoise, getting up to around 150lbs. By the time the tortoise reaches 30lbs it’ll need at least a 10x10ft area it can roam, and by the time it’s 60lbs it’ll need a whole yard to roam and a large heated and sheltered shed. They are very expensive to provide proper heating, lighting, and housing for. These are not a species for just anyone and I personally don’t think they should be kept as pets at all by anyone. They can be quite aggressive and are strong enough that even a 60lb tortoise like piggy can walk straight through the average chain link fence like a piece of tissue… this is a tortoise that is only 10 years old. They are thought to have the potential to live well over 100 and they are constantly growing. A sulcata WILL get large and you NEED to have a plan should you die or be otherwise unable to care for the tortoise. If you don’t have someone reliable that is able will gladly care for your tortoise for the rest of their lives, should something happen to you, don’t get one, no matter how capable YOU alone might be. If properly cared for the tortoise WILL outlive you and you WILL need a plan for it.

VERY important response by a committed sulcata owner!

A video posted by Ten DeShazo (@tendeshazo) on


This is BP (Border Patrol). She found a nice leaf today during her outside time. Very exciting stuff! #lovemyjob #workbabies #zoolife #sulcata #tortoise

I bring you treat, human. Now, your turn.

(we have been watching this clip non-stop. You are such a sweetie, BP! We hope that human brought you a treat in return)