Friday, 22 April 2011

Flashback Friday - Tortoises

When I was a child, tortoises were common pets. In the seventies, you could buy them for 50p at pet shops and to all intents and purposes, they required very little care. Blue Peter showed us how you could paint your tortoise's name on the shell to enable easy identification should your pet wander out of your garden and also alert your dad to their presence in the dug earth to avoid any unfortunate incidents with a garden fork. They also had tips on hibernation.

All of the tortoises that I owned eventually died during hibernation. One, met its end when my dad inadvertently put something heavy on top of the cardboard box that held my hibernating pet. Come spring, I found the flattened box in my dad's messy, disorganised shed. It was with a heavy heart that I opened it, knowing that the poor creature could not possibly have survived.

Others did not meet such a brutal end but I can remember the horrible feeling of pulling back the straw and finding lifeless bodies. We did manage to get our pets to survive some winters. In the spring, you would hear scratching noises when they woke and started moving around. It was if the scratching noises failed to happen that I would investigate and inevitably have to deal with death.

When the horror of the tortoise trade was exposed and imports eventually banned, tortoises entered the realm of pricey, exotic pets requiring specialist knowledge and equipment. The pocket money back yard tortoise days were over.

Eno (later renamed as Crusty Pie) loved strawberries

Me and little sister Wendy posing with our tortoise

For more of this week's Flashback Friday posts visit Cafe Bebe


  1. I feel like I've just had a nature lesson! I had no idea that tortoises were so popular here back then! Amazing. And what tough lessons to learn as a young person... :(

    Thanks so much for linking up and have a great weekend! ;)


  2. Ahh we had a tortoise called Fred probably late 70's or very early 80's. Ours would always try timescale not next doors garden! I remember Blue Peter informing us about how to look after them with regards to hibernation lol great post x

  3. I can't believe that you could buy a tortoise for 50p! I didn't realise they were so popular either.

    Why was your tortoise called Crusty Pie? :D


  4. My next door neighbour, who was my best friend, renamed the tortoise because it looked like a pie with legs - a pie with very crusty pastry :)


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