As a kid, my favorite cartoon character was Donatello from the Ninja Turtles. When I was six, I asked Santa Clause if he could send me a turtle for Christmas. I remember giving my parents 25 cents for a stamp. I got a t-shirt instead. 13 years later, I told one of my best friends this story. For my birthday they bought me a Russian Tortoise. At first I called him Donatello. Then my friend told me it was a girl. Female Russian Tortoises tend to have flared scutes on their shells. I didn’t want to give a female turtle a male name; I thought it was kind of sexist of me. I changed her name to Donatella instead.
I’ve read The Turtle and The Hare, and I want to say my turtle could beat the hare in a foot race. And the hare doesn’t need to take a nap. My tortoise is fast. She can cover a half a mile in a day.
There is a concern of survival for the Russian Tortoise in the wild. Humans are destroying their natural habit. However, they are very durable. They are usually found in Central Asia. During the winter months, they would burrow themselves deep underground and come out when the temperature has risen to suffice their needs. A Russian Tortoise has four toes with claws to dig. I’ve lost my turtle in the backyard for days just because she would burrow herself in the corner of the picket fence. I’ve also seen her climb over logs and rocks. I don’t know why they want to climb. Maybe they want to get closer to the sun. I would say it’s for food, but I’ve seen my turtle eat grass, daffodils, and four leaf clovers. They’re pretty common in my backyard.
Still, we humans, after destroying their habitats found out they made great pets due to their size. The female Russian tortoise can grow up to eight inches, while the males grow up to six. My Russian Tortoise is about 5 right now. She’s quite heavy. She has to spend most of the winter indoors, which I know she hates. During the summertime I like to train her. I create obstacle courses that test her intelligence, agility, and strength.
She loves climbing over things, so I would create two different kinds of blockade: one made of rock and the other of wood. The blockade made of wood has food behind, while the one with rock doesn’t. It took her a while to figure out, but now she always climb over the one that is made from wood.
I also time her to get to point A to point B, which is usually the length of my backyard. It is roughly 12 yards long. I don’t know if Donatella knows I’m timing her because halfway through, she sometimes stop and burrow. It takes her about an hour to do the whole backyard, but I’m sure she can get it all down to 20 minutes.
You may ask me why I’m training her. The first tortoise in space was a Russian Tortoise. I want my Russian Tortiose to be the first one to Mars.