Monday, 20 October 2008

Leo The Leopard Tortoise

This is Leo, my leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis). Leo originated from Ethiopia where it grazes on the dried, arid grasses of the savannas. I bought Leo waaay back in 1997. At that time, I remembered I wanna get a Sri Lankan star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) initially but changed my mind when I saw Leo. It was the first time I ever saw a leopard tortoise. The shop was in Penang, but was in a dubious state which I eventually learned, was operating illegally and clamped down by the authorities weeks later. The price MYR 700 was of course way way too expensive, but Ah Shen, my cousin brother, said it was unique and different from the star variety. His mom, Aunty Pek, was kind enough to loan me MYR 400 for the balance (whom I repaid back with my pay the following month). Leo, had a problem of insufficient calcium intake, probably due to too long in captive, thus affecting the proper growth of several of the scutes on her carapace. Leo was just about 4 inches long, now estimated about 15 inches. It is said that Leo is probably just into her juvenile stage of her life, and will most likely outlive me. I fed Leo with kailan (kale) on almost daily basis. At times, when the kale supply ran out, she would graze on the grasses on the garden, like a cow. Now, Leo is a "she". How do I know? Well, not for 100% sure but one way of identifying a tortoise sex is via the concaveness of the bottom carapace, females have a almost flat surface and vice versa for male. Throughout the years with us, Leo has had a fair share of accidents, always with cars parked on our porch. Luckily she turned out fine (but with scratches). She also has bits of paint on her during one of the painting the garden walls session.

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