Texas Tortoise

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - 10:08am

Massive African tortoise finds a posh new home.

Sandy Brown's Marble Falls, Texas backyard is now home to a 140-pound tortoise she adopted three weeks ago.

With a tan shell, the tortoise blends in with her two-story, stone house.

"They said he would eat the grass and I thought, 'Well, that is great. I want him,'" said Brown.

The exotic pet store delivered the tortoise three weeks ago.

"For right now, we are calling him 'Baby' until we find a better name," Brown explained. "We are open to suggestions."

The family is no stranger to animals.

They own three dogs and a rare bird, and they once had a beaver they bottle-fed.

The bird even sleeps in the bed with Brown and her husband.

Their latest addition, however, comes with added perks.

"He is more of a weed-eater I would say," Brown said.

Brown no longer has to mow her lawn or pull weeds because Baby loves to eat them.

He is an herbivore.

Baby is an African spurred tortoise and is already 40 years old.

Still, some tortoises have grown to be more than 100 years old and weigh several hundred pounds.

It is native to the Sahara Desert and Sahel.

Baby's home is the family's spacious backyard that is equipped with a pool and playset for the Brown's grandchildren.

But, Baby has his own posh digs to retire to at night.

Brown had a builder come in and specially design a house for Baby.

It has a tin roof, a door and heat lamps.

It is so big, you could easily mistake it for a child's playhouse.

"It cost us a bit to put that up," she said.

The Brown's even had to fence their yard.

Baby has escaped twice since they adopted him, and bringing him back home is hard.

"We have to get him up on a forklift and put him in a trailer and drive him back," Brown explained.

Baby, however, does more than light landscaping.

He also had a bug for redecorating and moving patio furniture.

"I came out one morning and our patio table and one chair was down by the sidewalk," Brown recalled.

It is not that Baby wants to move furniture; he just takes whatever is in his way when he walks with him. And don't think this guy doesn't live life in the fast lane.

"The tortoise and the hare, that just isn't true. Baby moves fast," Brown said.

With our triple-digit temperatures, Baby seeks shade during the peak heat hours.

You can typically find him on the Brown's back patio keeping cool with the family dogs.

Luring him on to the grass, though, isn't hard.

All you need are carrots and lettuce.

"He loves carrots," Brown said.

Once on the grass, he is in snack heaven.

"I just worry that he is going to drown in the pool," Brown said, while keeping a watchful eye on her latest animal friend.

Brown already made sure when she adopted him that her children needed to be ready to take him when she passes.

"We hope to have him for at least 15 years," she said.

Brown is able to sit on the tortoise, and her grandchildren can ride him.

His shell can hold up to 100 pounds of weight.

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