Writing a story about tortoises was quite an education for Amy and me! 

One of the first thing we learned while writing The Story of Neeps & Tattie is that land tortoises can live a long time! In fact, many owners include for the perpetual care of their tortoises in their wills! In fact, as of the writing of this blog post, the oldest living land animal is 200 year-old Jonathan,  a Seychelles Giant who resides on the island of Saint Helena, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. Smithsonian Magazine wrote a great article about Jonathan that you can find here. (If you look closely in The Story of Neeps and Tattie you will see a “portrait of Jonathan!)

There is often confusion between tortoises and turtles. The biggest difference between the two is that tortoises live on land and turtles can live in water some or all of the time. Tortoises only go near water to drink and bathe. They don’t have teeth, but have a beak that helps them rip food apart. Most tortoises are herbivores while turtles are omnivores and will eat meat. Whether a tortoise hibernates or not depends on their species and the climate they live in. A tortoise shell is much heavier than a turtle’s and is  dome-shaped to help protect it from predators. 

After researching all of this, and in an effort to be accurate in our story, Amy and I decided that Neeps and Tattie would be of the Herman’s Tortoise species – in part because of their vibrant shell colors and patterns, but primarily because when they don’t live in a warm climate, Hermann’s Tortoises can hibernate either in the refrigerator or a box kept in a cool basement – as long as the temperate is around 5 degrees Centigrade. You might be asking, “How do they get enough oxygen while in the refrigerator?”  The answer is that the tortoises get fresh air each time the refrigerator is opened on a daily basis. This is one of the big reasons Mrs. McKay checks on Neeps and Tattie each day! 

Read about World Turtle Day – May 23rd

Images from Amimalia.bio

Similar Posts