I work retail and often my coworkers will see me buying worms from the sporting good dept. When I tell them they are for my pet box turtles, they look kind of weird at me. But when I tell them I've had one of them for 24 years, they are usually impressed.
Usually the educational summary..."He is fantastic. No barking. No need to walk him. Doesn't scratch the furniture. He eats salad, and likes to be held. He has a sweet face and is even tempered. Is low maintenance once the setup is correct. And he will live longer than me
Or option 2-the naive...maybe tough if you are a guy (it is tough for me)...
What do you mean you can't do anything with them? Do you think I made a boo-boo picking out my very special pet? Oh, no, what am I going to do? Oh but he matches my decor so nicely...oh no. I am so saddened I have made such a horrid mistake!
The plain absurd response...where some people think you may have lost your mind or you are telling the truth...
"Oh, he is just sooooo super pretty and he can dance and play the piano now! We are getting him a voice coach soon too. The only trouble is he leaves the lid up on the toilet." then walk away
You would be amazed how many people really just are asking out of curiosity and do not know what to ask so they are very generic in their questions. The good information you can give will probably leave them with something new to respect!
Well, sometimes I bet that if they locked their pet and my pet in a room, that my pet would be the survivor.
Usually, I talk about how fascinating tortoises are, how much I learn from it (patience, diet, etc.), how much fun it is to meet their needs, and the great value (cost divided by life expectancy) of an 'heirloom pet' I can pass on to future generations.
I mean- a dog runs about $200 and lives 20 years, $10 a year. A Red-foot runs about $150 and loves 50 years, so it costs about $3 a year- a clear value!
100 reasons a tortoise is better than a dog...
1. They don't bark
2. They don't chew your shoes or furniture
3. They don't make urine spots in the yard
4. When in heat, other tortoises in the neighborhood don't come around and pester you (which would actually be kinda cool, wouldn't it?)
5. Don't have to worry about breeds or pedigree.
6. Better value over lifetime
7. You don't need to spay or neuter them
8. They don't need annual shots
9. They don't get rabies or distemper
10. No one has every been killed by an irate tortoise
11. They don't shed
12. No one is allergic to them
13. what else.......
Most folks just do not understand anything that cannot bring them an instant satisfaction a mainline pet can bring. It takes something more to have the courage to take on something that you really have to put 100 % into, only then to reap the rewards these very cool animals can bring us. For someone who would expect to be entertained by a tort with out that dedication will get very little and their perception would reflect the same. These are the people that would say why own a tort, or what can they do. These people will never know that feeling of accomplishment (or love if you will) that comes with this end result. It is this satisfaction, in the end, that motivates me to take on this great responsibility. All the stuff they do do and will ultimately share with you as you grow with them will be the answer to that question.