4 female Russian tortoises on the Seattle Craigslist


Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Jul 21, 2010
Location (City and/or State)
San Antonio, TX
I'm probably going to catch some heat for this, but I totally get where russian/sulcata/tortoise is coming from. When I was just a boy of eight years, my dad and I found an ornate box turtle crossing the highway just south of El Paso, TX. My old man was firm that we couldn't keep it, given that box turtles were disappearing in the wild and that we shouldn't contribute to that problem. But at that time, that message was lost on me. All I knew is that I wanted a turtle. My mother was the biggest source of resistance to the idea of keeping any cold blooded creature. I always wanted to get a tortoise. She would always either say no or wait. Finally, I went out with my friend's older brother, and I bought my first reptile pet, an ornate box turtle from Clark's Pets in Albuquerque, NM for $15. My mother was furious; she kicked my butt and demanded I return the animal. I took my licking and still refused. Finally, my father relented, allowing me to keep the turtle so long as I took responsibility for it. To be honest, my old man used to keep California Desert tortoises, so I think he was glad I had finally been bitten by the chelonian bug. Anywho, after some years, after I had acquired four tortoises and our family was finally settling into the good sized property I currently own in South Texas, my parents and I came into conflict again. They insisted on planting apple and pear trees in the corner of the property where my tortoises were to stay, the only corner of the property free of ground cover. I wanted to grow clover, dandelion, and other weeds in that spot, and they fought me, saying they didn't want to be pulling weeds from their precious landscape. Despite these initial setbacks, I stubbornly refused to relent, offering vocal opposition to every stupid plant they purchased at Wolf Nursery, offering vocal support to the planting of anything the tortoises might find edible. Things changed when I moved out of the house, with my father taking over primary care of the tortoises, though I made sure to visit as often as I could. Eventually, when I had three big sulcatas dominating the property, the movements of the giants did my fighting for me, given that no stupid plant was safe from the jaws and bulk of the Goliaths roaming the plains. Unfortunately, my largest sulcata passed, and shortly after that, the entire parent/child dynamic changed when my old man suffered a stroke and passed away a few years afterward. I left my apartment and moved back in with my mom, who was growing increasingly fragile after my old man's passing, having suffered two heart attacks herself. With money I had saved over a decade, I paid off the homestead, and I chopped down those stupid trees that had been such a source of contention. Now, aside from the garden, the entire fenced in section of the property is devoted to tortoises. I've since slimmed down my colony to consist of only marginateds and my first tortoise Graecus, a small black Greek tortoise.

So, to russian/sulcata/tortoise, I must say, don't stop fighting your parents about your tortoises. Your parents are going to make stupid decisions. Not all parents have the wisdom and understanding to see that reshaping your property toward the care of tortoises is the best possible use of that property (this sounds like a joke, but I'm dead serious; tortoises are awesome, and anyone who thinks otherwise is in need of a good shaking, as far as I'm concerned). But at the same time, know that when you leave your house to go to college, things are going to change in ways you would never suspect. You might find your absolute love of tortoises coming into question. I know I did. I spent my first year of college away from my tortoises, living in a dorm room that stank of sweat and alcohol, a foul place that was lonely and depressing, where I hung up polaroids of my tortoises to keep from getting home sick. During that time, I needed my old man to watch the tortoises for me. Granted, he didn't do as good a job as I would have, given that we seriously disagreed concerning care regimen, but despite all of our conflicts, despite all of his bitter refusals to allow me to grow dandelions on the property those first two years, I am most grateful that he watched over the colony when I was gone, that Gino, Lady Gino, Little Gino, and Graecus are all alive today thanks to his time and efforts over those last years of his life.

But Floof is right about the fact that you're a young person. Your life is going to see many changes, and it's going to be overwhelming. I urge you to stick to your passion, to keep the tortoises, but make sure that at least one of your parents is on board and enthusiastic about the care of the animals. The more animals you have, the more important that will be. I can't speak for everyone on the forum, but for me, caring for tortoises is always best done as a family effort, and though I may be pig headed and nasty stubborn at times, I've always done my best to get my family enthused about taking care of tortoises, about letting them know just how amazing these critters are. Heck, even my mom, who is Korean and absolutely detested most animals when I was a child, now finds them fascinating and is as happy as I am whenever a new baby tortoise emerges from an egg.

So yeah, if Floof wrote a novel, I suppose I've written a compendium, but despite that, I feel it is important. Don't sneak around your parents to get more tortoises. I did that with the box turtle, and I barely got away with it. But I was just a boy, without the faculties of reason and logic. Once I acquired reasonable use of these faculties, I used them to persuade my parents while stubbornly refusing to bow before setbacks and challenges to seeing my tortoises to a better quality of life. Keeping tortoises is hard, especially when your parents aren't supportive. The trick is to get them as interested as you are. It really isn't as hard as it sounds. Your parents love you and think you're awesome. Getting their attention may be hard at times, but if you keep at it, over time, they will come to appreciate your tortoises as much as you do. And when they do, getting those russians won't be so difficult.