Taking Care of Tortoise


by Mallory Vopal

Carnegie Museum of Natural History houses a living collection
of animals that serve as important educational ambassadors in many of our programs.   Our Russian tortoise Natasha is part of this
collection. She lives in the lobby of the Earth Theater where she is frequently
seen watching visitors, climbing up on top of her log “house,” and digging in
the coconut substrate in her enclosure.
All of this activity causes her to work up an appetite, and the Lifelong
Learning staff at the museum are tasked with making sure she gets the best diet

We go shopping for her food about twice a month and buy
different types of greens to give her a well varied and nutritious meal.   This week, I purchased kale, endive,
radicchio, and red leaf lettuce.  We
prepare her meals for the whole week at once and store them for when we are
ready to feed her.   Before serving, a
little sprinkle of a special reptile calcium supplement is added to make sure
she stays healthy and strong.  Purple radicchio
is her absolute favorite, and she sifts through her food to find it first!

Mallory Vopal is
Gallery Experience Manager at Carnegie Museum of Natural History and also
manages the Living Collection.  Her animal husbandry background includes
reptiles, birds, amphibians, mammals, and invertebrates.

hee hee thats what I do with my radicchio too! we torts are high end!


Pebble update.

He went to see a vet this Friday, and my suspicions of RI have sadly been confirmed. Thankfully, we caught it fairly early, so he is very likely to make a full recovery.

We’re waiting for the results of his culture swab to know which antibiotic will be most effective against his infection(s). Then, he’ll be getting his meds subcutaneously.

Also got his fecal sample out, to see how badly he’s infested by parasites.We’ll deal with them too.

For now, he’s going to spend every night indoors in a heated tub, and only come out into his pen on warm days, until he’s good and clear of his RI.

This morning was cold and foggy, so I let him have a free run of the room where his tub is (which is also free of snakes, so they stay healthy!) until it warmed up outside. He was quite active and was inspecting the perimeter, and even had a few bites to eat!

Right now, he’s sunning himself in his outdoor enclosure until the evening, when he’ll come back in to sleep in his cozy tub.

Wish Pebble to get well soon, y’all!

Oh no! Hang in there, Pebble! So glad you have awesome human to make sure you get all the right medicine and lots of snuggles. sending lots of good thoughts for a speedy recovery!

Send your good thoughts to Pebble!