Part of our garden is actually a home for our tortoise Petunia. He is a Testudo marginata or marginated tortoise. this type of tortoise is unique looking due to its extremely flared marginal scutes from which it gets its name. They are native to Greece, Italy and the Balkans in southern Europe and are the larges Mediterranean tortoises. They can get up to 14 inches long and 8-12 pounds. Petunia weighs about 1.5 pounds right now.
Petunia was actually almost named Lithops. We thought the "Living Stone" reference was hilariousness. Instead he was named after a petunia plant that was in his "happy place" when he first arrived in his garden enclosure. "Petunia" started as a sort of nick-name place holder while we auditioned other names and it stuck. Since he spent so much time under the Petunia and eating the Petunia, it just seemed right. Eventually Petunia's nibbling and the Texas summer heat killed the poor plant.
Marginateds eat dark leafy greens, weeds and some grasses. They do not need to eat meat or fruit and consuming either can lead to digestive issues. Fountain grasses, maiden grasses, sedum, spirea, hosta, knockout rose, hibiscus and stone crop are good choices for a tortoise garden. Currently we have hibiscus, fountain grass, coleus, grasses, clover, sedum, mints, Lamium, and purslane in Petunia's garden. We also have a few places for him to hide and climb. We also give him a little tortoise salad daily in his food dish. Variety is the key when feeding a tortoise.
|A view of his garden|
|The other side of his L-shaped garden enclosure|
Petunia took a long time to settle in and is a very shy tortoise overall. He is also reluctant to eat out of his food dish and enjoys grazing on the plants in his garden. He does seem to enjoy an evening soak with a tasty treat. I am by no means an expert on tortoises, but we definitely are enjoying our new friend.