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Desert tortoise likes to browse in the garden

By Gary Bogue
Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 at 8:41 am in Desert Tortoises, Gardens.

Tortie the desert tortoise, hiding in Gary’s backyard garden. Photo by Karl Nielsen, Benicia, CA
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Tortie likes to browse in our backyard garden

My wife Lois, and I, have 4 large garden boxes in our backyard, where we grow all kinds of squash, beans, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, mammoth sunflowers (to feed the squirrel so he leaves the rest of the veggies for us) and an assortment of herbs we use for cooking.

There are gravel paths between these garden boxes. We tend to let our veggies have free reign, and the pathways are necessary so Lois and I can find our way through the garden jungle to harvest the fruits and vegetables of our labor.

Gary and Lois in one of their backyard garden boxes. Note path between boxes, where Tortie roams during the day. Photo by Karl Nielsen, Benicia, CA.
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This spring, our son Karl blocked off the ends of these paths with wooden barriers. This allowed us to release our pet desert tortoise, “Tortie (“creative name, right?), inside the now enclosed paths so he can spend the day browsing on the overhanging plants, or dozing in the sun. We humans can just step over the barriers. There is now a “tortoise browse line” here and there along the paths, indicating which vegetables Tortie likes, and which ones he doesn’t like to eat.

Gary and Lois on path between garden boxes in their Benicia, CA, backyard. Photo by Karl Nielsen, Benicia, CA.
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We bring Tortie back in to his special greenhouse enclosure (we call it his garage) at night so he can’t encounter any raccoons, which can cause considerable damage to tortoises and turtles. /Gary

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5 Responses to “Desert tortoise likes to browse in the garden”

  1. Cheryl Rinker Says:

    Tortie is one lucky tortoise!

  2. Karen Says:

    How utterly cool!

  3. Teri Says:

    Gary:
    While putting something away in my tool shed, I discovered a beautiful monarch butterfly laying on the ground. At first I thought it was dead, but it was, and is, very much alive. I have had it in my kitchen on a damp paper towel since yesterday. I have misted it and have placed mushy banana near its proboscis. Not sure what to do! I thought perhaps it was tired from a long flight…do you think it could get better and fly off?
    Teri (Discovery Bay)

  4. Gary Bogue Says:

    Teri: Try putting it outside today when it’s not raining and see if it will fly away. You also might try feeding it with a hummingbird nectar mix in a lid. 4 parts water to 1 part granulated sugar. Place the mix in a small bottle cap/lid next to it. be careful to keep it from getting wet from the mixture. You need to get it back into the wild, or it’s just not going to survive long. Good luck and thanks for caring. /Gary

  5. Teri Says:

    Thanks for responding! Was not sure how to post a question on this blog – didn’t mean to “reply” to the story above! It is still alive (two days now), and I am trying the sugar/water mixture. Let’s pray it works! Thanks, Gary!

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