The Life of a Tortoise

A wild tortoise who lives near the cabin where we were staying in the high desert above Yucca Valley, CA has learned that people will give him lettuce.


He comes out when he hears people because he likes lettuce.  There’s only just enough plant life for survival in those parts so it’s easy to see why he’d be tempted.


He’s been living there for at least 30 years and has a female consort who we didn’t see.  Maybe she didn’t come out because she’s shy, more likely because the weather wasn’t really hot enough yet, or perhaps it was because he told her not to.  He has a rival, a bigger fellow, with whom he battles for control of the territory and access to the female.  The way battle works for tortoises is they try to flip each other over.  An upside-down tortoise has no way to right itself and soon dies.

These battles must be noisy.  The tortoise hissed loudly if we did not give him the next piece of lettuce as fast as he wanted.  I expect he’d look even more menacing if the issue was survival.


He usually loses the battles because he’s smaller than the interloper, but not always.  Our landlady once found both of them on their backs.  She checks on them many times a day when the weather is hotter and had to right the home tortoise five times one day.  She has repeatedly taken the interloper several miles away in her car but he always comes back.

2 comments on “The Life of a Tortoise

  1. In other words, when we started eating grains, we started experiencing problems. Perhaps you have not heard of the Paleo diet, well it first became popular in the mid 1970’s. If I wanted dessert, I would have baked a mixed berry pie with ice cream and laughed hysterically. Have a look at my homepage paleo breakfast recipes

  2. Hello, Lila. Thanks for your comment, which I approved because I enjoyed your joke and like your spirit. I also very much like the look of those recipes!

    The theory behind the Paleo diet seems pretty weak, though. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t live long enough to develop the health problems many of us do. That we share their genetic adaptation to the kinds of things they ate, which varied depending on where they lived, doesn’t mean either they or we would have health problems from eating the products of agriculture. We do know that eating too much on a regular basis causes problems, and we know it’s a mistake to eat a lot of some “foods” our ancestors did not have, e.g., fried chicken and sodas.

    There is some intriguing science suggesting that simply eating a lot less results in much lower risk for several kinds of cancer, heart problems and such, as well as greater longevity and less chance of developing Alzheimer’s. One way to do it is eat less than 500 calories two days a week and your normal intake the other five. I just started doing it and will report on the results after a few weeks. A lack of humor was a result on the second day of fasting 😉

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