Monday, June 30, 2008

Owen and Mzee --- Nemo needs a hippo?

I don't recall having seen videos of the story of Owen, the orphaned baby hippo, and Mzee, a very old tortoise, that developed a most unusual bond after the 2004 tsunami. I followed the caretakers blog and purchased two children's books that came from this amazing friendship. For some reason I searched YouTube yesterday and found this video I wanted to share.

The update, as far as I know, is Owen was introduced to (and bonded with) a female hippo. Apparently Owen thought he was a tortoise and wasn't meeting his hippos needs for more water wallowing and foraging for hippo appropriate food. Not only was the hippo bond successful, and not only are Owen and Mzee still friends, Cleo (the female hippo) also bonded with Mzee! I think animals have a highly sophisticated form of communication that Cleo knew to be gentle with the tortoise.

Of course Brian has nixed the idea of a hippo coming into our household to bond with Nemo, but maybe Nemo will start visiting the Pleos one day since they can no longer go into his area without constant supervision.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nemo outsmarts the hand that feeds him

Last week turned out to be a game with Nemo. He loved his salmon and shrimp so much, I began to hide a pellet of tortoise food to help get him proper nourishment. I carefully hid a single warmed mushy pellet in each shrimp "belly". He gobbled them up. Yay! The next day I gave him a bit of salmon wrapped around warmed mushy pellets (only 2-3 would fit). He gobbled that up too.

The next day I hid box turtle pellets in the shrimp. Apparently he doesn't like them. He has never eaten them alone either. He turned his nose up the salmon that had only the tortoise pellets in it the next time. When I realized he was going on strike or somehow no longer trusted the shrimp or salmon, I wanted to make sure he still would eat. I returned to basics--the bagel bite with salmon inside. No extras. That little stinker ate the top of the bagel ball off leaving the salmon and lower portion of the bagel!

I give up...for now. He had plain shrimp yesterday. He did nibble on at least one but left a path of destruction. He must have walked through the small pile of shrimp because it was strewn along about a foot long path. Meanwhile Brian has been working on the outdoor plans for our tiered hill including Nemo's spa area. We can only hope he will enjoy the outdoors on at least a limited level and eat some real turtle food. His enclosure will have earthworms. Yuck for me but I don't have to watch outside. He did have a dead spider in front of him yesterday though. I don't know if he killed it or found it. It never was eaten though.

The lead photo for this entry is Nemo snuggled amidst his circle of stuffie reptiles that keep him safe from curled wrought iron legs. He looks so comfy. The other photo is his rediscovery of the jungle gym wine rack. It looks well guarded with Bronson and the hippo...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Nemo's' Prickly Pear

Last year I was given a flowering prickly pear cactus pad to transplant for Nemo. He did like the one flower I got for him. Unfortunately, I killed the poor cactus. After researching different instructions for growing cactus from a pad, I ordered several pads through Ebay.

Late last summer I placed the pads in the pot shown at left, constantly moving sticks and stones to keep the pads upright. I could tell in early spring that it was getting new growth. Then about two weeks ago I got what I thought was a cactus flower bloom. Now, two weeks later, you can see the plant is growing new branches (?)...pads...all over the place! I'm hoping Nemo will have his plant provide him with delicious yellow flowers later this summer. What we don't do to try to please his palate.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A New Corner to Explore

This is how I found Nemo yesterday afternoon. Spread 'em?? He actually fell asleep in this position. He hasn't been in this corner in over six months. It had been arranged differently for his hibernation in October. I guess he is reclaiming it.

A short while later, he was lounging in this lovely setting. Guess he decided it would be okay after all.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Under Construction

Nemo is in for a treat...we hope. Brian has dedicated himself to giving Nemo an outdoor experience. Actually more like the ultimate turtle resort. Brian has begun the first tier of our very steep small backyard. Some may recall that the left side is my Zen garden shown in the photo. On the right, at the base, is the beginning of a Tuscan-paved patio area--it will be a beautiful setting for my container garden and we have a lovely water fountain picked out.

The second tier will be a 6' long, 3' high wood-beamed enclosure that will include turtle friendly plants, a small pond, earthworms, a duplicate "garage", and even a screened top to protect from predators. Even though we have a privacy fence, birds swoop and possibly a cat might get in (?). Where we went wrong last year was not realizing any open-spaced fencing is a magnet to turtles who feel they must get through. Yes, even the unturtle.

Nemo will be placed down into the raised enclosure where he can't get out by digging or climbing and won't see any "holes". It was always our intent for Nemo to have the outdoor experience until he freaked out each time he was outside. He wouldn't search for appropriate food because he was too busy escaping from having dirt on his feet (my theory). If he doesn't like his habitat, we still have a beautiful gardening space. When construction begins on the Nemo level, I'll post photos of the progress.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Nemo Takes on the World

I was thrilled to find several of Nemo's videos, some including the Pleos, on a Russian website and what appears to be a Chinese website! How exciting is that? I don't think Nemo would stand for paparazzi but I'm sure Linus & Schroeder would have no problem.


Holding down the fort.

Climbing the walls (trying to get past his garage the hard way)

Lounging under Bronsan. Somehow Nemo manages to crawl under and out from under Bronsan and never knock him over!

Chillin' in the garage. Almost.

Full view of a completed blanket tunnel system.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

And the turtle will have lox & bagel

Someone who follows Nemo activities suggested I try smoked salmon as a tasty offering. I happen to love Nova smoked salmon, bagel, and cream cheese. Since I like it, it was a good bet the unturtle would like it. I checked online to make sure salmon was a safe turtle food. It was.

Yesterday morning I smooshed a piece of bagel, placed a dime-sized piece of salmon inside, and made a turtle salmon wrap. I actually made two. He downed the one while I prepared the second. A success! Nemo likes two kinds of fish.

Attempting to build on yesterday's success, today I thawed a shrimp and warmed up some box turtle pellets so they were soft. I made a little bagel panini again, this time with shrimp and just a few pellets. A second one just had shrimp in it. When I checked later, he had eaten the bagel with just the shrimp. The other he had opened up and picked the shrimp out! What a brat! Just like a cat or dog might do. I had a potbellied pig that did the same thing. Guess Nemo just doesn't want his veggies. But I will not give up!