Within my house of patterned horn
I sleep in such a bed
As men may keep before they're born
And after when they're dead.
Sticks and stones may break their bones,
And words may make them bleed;
There is not one of them who owns
An armour to his need.
Tougher than hide or lozenged bark,
Snow-storm and thunder proof,
And quick with sun, and thick with dark,
Is this my darling roof.
Men's troubled dreams of death and birth
Puls mother-o'-pearl to black;
I bear the rainbow bubble Earth
Square on my scornful back.
- Elinor Mortin Wylie -'The tortoise in Eternity'
Early this week was the first time in about 8 weeks that Torti surfaced from her semi-hibernation state and took a stroll around the garden. Torti is my Leopard or Mountain Tortoise whom we rescued, as she was destined for the pot.
Southern Africa is very fortunate to have the largest variety of animals in the world. It is home to more than 800 bird species, 150 mammal species, about 50 snake and lizard species, 11 tortoise species and thousands of invertebrate animals like insects and arachnids.
The Mountain tortoise inhabits a wide range of habitats, from dry Bushveld to moister coastal plains and is the most widely distributed and also the biggest of the 12 species of land tortoise found in Southern Africa. It is believed to take its name 'mountain' tortoise from its size rather than its habitat. ('Leopard' tortoise comes from the black and yellow blotched patterns on its high-domed carapace.)
Though not averse to gnawing on an old bone, the mountain tortoise is mostly vegetarian, feeding on a variety of plant matter, including grass shoots, succulents such as cotyledons, fungi and fruit.
Adults usually weigh from 10-15 kg, but some specimens of over 40 kg have been recorded in the Eastern Cape.