Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Mission Statement and Introduction

Modern Tortoise:

To facilitate outstanding (and continuously improving) tortoise husbandry through a discussion of the best practices and provisioning choices, making use of information based on real-world experience, supported by science, supplied by actual keepers, with a goal of improving long-term outcomes for individual keepers and their tortoises.

I fell in love with the first tortoise I ever saw. 

It was at the Central Park Zoo in New York City, where I grew up. It was large and slow and older than anyone alive; it seemed both wise and laid back. The love affair between myself and the various members of the family Testudinidae continued at a slow burn for almost the next half-century, until the day that Darwin came to live with me.

Darwin is a redfoot tortoise (also called red-footed tortoise), Chelonoidis carbonarius, a native of South America by way of Florida (where he was bred and hatched). He arrived almost a year ago at the age of a month or two, small enough to fit in a teacup; now he is about the size of a salad plate and just passed one pound of weight. Inviting him to live with me has been a rewarding, if sometimes stressful, experience.

It's not that there's no information about how to raise a tortoise hatchling available in books and magazine and online... just the opposite, in fact, there's a superabundance, a surfeit, and much of it is incorrect, at best useless, at worst harmful or even deadly. The only thing working in favor of new tortoises and new tortoise keepers is that they, the tortoises, are tough little creatures.

I spent a lot of time sifting through various sources, in print, online, and the people I met (face to face and through the internet), trying to sort the wheat from the chaff from the shards of glass. General patterns began to emerge over time, allowing me to figure out how best to promote Darwin's health and well-being; keys that helped me learn which sources and people promulgated faulty, dated, or baseless advice on tortoise husbandry.

My plans for Modern Tortoise include:
  • share the things I've learned (and am learning) about tortoise husbandry, providing references where and when appropriate;
  • invite long-term keepers to contribute based on their knowledge and experience through articles and/or letters;
  • offer links to interesting articles and papers on keeping tortoises;
  • review equipment and food and other materials beneficial in making the best home possible for your tortoises.

Jamie, NH, 8/7/19