Nature

Eden Animal Sanctuary Offers a Soft Place to Land for Tortoises and Turtles

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All photos courtesy of Jenny Webster Jurica

Located near Spring Branch, Texas is an animal sanctuary that rescues, rehabilitates and re-homes a curious bunch of creatures indeed. When you walk into Eden Animal Sanctuary, you’re likely to be greeted by a positively prehistoric-looking tortoise named Radar, the friendly resident sulcata, or African “Spur Thigh,” tortoise. Radar, like most of the other chelonians (which is the order that both turtles and tortoises belong to) who’ve found themselves at Eden Animal Sanctuary, used to be someone’s pet. Radar was found after being dumped on a piece of property, likely by unknowing owners who tried to “return him to nature” when they realized how large he was getting.

Turtles and Tortoises Are a Big Commitment.

Radar the Sulcata

Most of the turtles and tortoises (Just so we’re clear: Turtles live in the water some or all of the time while tortoises are land dwellers) that live at Eden Animal Sanctuary were once purchased at the pet store or at a roadside stand and were kept in captivity. It’s also highly likely that they didn’t have a proper habitat in their former homes. In fact, many of the tortoises and turtles who come to Eden Animal Sanctuary are getting to live outside for the first time in their lives.

We’ve probably all seen turtles and tortoises at the pet store and briefly entertained thoughts of scooping one up, taking it home, and being best friends for life. What lots of people fail to realize is that some species of tortoises can get big – we’re talking 200 lbs. big! They also live as long as (if not longer than) most humans, with the average lifespan being 50 to 150 years (so, you better add your pet sulcata to your last will and testament). And, all turtles and tortoises require special habitats. That aquarium in the corner of the science lab that houses a red-eared slider? Sadly, that is just not the best place for him.

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Eden Animal Sanctuary
This is precisely how Eden Animal Sanctuary’s founder Rachel Street started on her “chelonian journey.” In high school, back on the East Coast, she worried about the resident box turtle in her science class, so she took it upon herself to find him earthworms every day. She knew that the limp piece of iceberg lettuce in the corner of his small aquarium wasn’t what he needed. She eventually brought the box turtle home and thus began a life of rescuing and fostering all types of animals.

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