This is Aeschylus, the Russian tortoise who’s been living with us since…2009? Yeah, 2009. How about that?*
Over the past few years, Aeschylus has had to endure several moves, each time receiving a larger and more elaborate outdoor enclosure as a reward for his fortitude. And now that we’re finally homeowners, we decided that it was time to give him the BEST HOME OF ALL.
So we did. And here’s how we did it.
1. Castle Bricks:
We bought a pallet of these from our local BigBox and, with some cement, made a stone circle 3 bricks high.
2. Build a drain.
Shortly after we constructed the enclosure ring, we realized that we’d built a large stone bowl. After watching it fill with rainwater for a few days, My Fella raided the brick pile and cleverly constructed a drain. Voila!
3. Plant some Greens.
Not only is Aeschylus a vegetarian (like all Russian tortoises), he’s kind of a fussy eater. And he prefers to graze on living plants, versus the fresh, hand-picked garden greens that we gather for him…tho’ he’ll eventually eat those, too.
4. Make a sandbox.
Aeschylus likes to burrow. When it’s cold, when it’s hot, or when he just feels like hiding in a hole in the ground. He also hibernates in winter, usually under half a foot of dirt. However, to expand his burrowing options, we also constructed a sandbox for him.
In addition to letting the plants grow — clover, fescue, lettuce, cilantro, squash plants, etc. — we added a water dish, a flat rock for basking, and a broken ceramic pot. (As I type this, he’s sitting in the ceramic pot.)
Russian tortoises are notorious escape artists. While Aeschylus probably cannot climb out of this enclosure, we are not about to risk a break-out. Furthermore**, we don’t want anything to swoop down and carry him off…and subsequently drop him on someone from a great height. For this reason, My Fella took some plastic deer netting and wove it into a protective cover.
7. Posts in the ground:
This landscape tie, cut into four pieces, serves the same function as tent poles, keeping the netting aloft.
8. Just add tortoise.
9. Watch tortoise eat.
Here’s Aeschylus devouring an entire squash plant.