In Memory of Chip the Man-Eating Tortoise

Chip the Man-Eating Tortoise

So today I re-potted Phoebe the Date Palm. I bought Phoebe to brighten up our patio, after half of our garden was destroyed in a fire. Phoebe is a little bit troublesome and when she is not falling over in her nursery pot, she is attacking us with her sharp spikes. I currently have a swollen finger where she left one of her spikes behind. Phoebe is fast taking the place of Chip the Man-Eating tortoise, as the garden devil.

The story of Chip is a sad one. As mentioned, part of our garden was destroyed in a fire, along with three outbuildings. The fire was caused by Chip’s heat lamp falling and his bedding starting to burn. Unfortunately Chip was in his enclosure at the time and did not survive.

While we as a family are devastated about the loss of our pet, we are left with some funny stories of chip, as he was quite a character. We’d had him for six years after his previous owner’s mum handed him into a pet store, while her son (who he belonged to) was away at college. As it happened, my brother-in-law worked at said pet store and knew that I had kept tortoises in the past and so brought it home to us.

It soon became clear why he had been given away. Chip was not people friendly at all. Whenever we stepped foot off the patio, wherever he was in the garden, he would run (yes run) and begin to bite our feet. Although he didn’t have any teeth, he did have a grip like steel and a very sharp beak, which wasn’t so sharp after he fell down the shed step and snapped it. When he wasn’t biting, he was humping anything that didn’t move, so in the end we had to get him a ‘special friend’ made out of stone. One friend did not believe that 1. a tortoise could run and 2. a tortoise could cause such terror to our household. So it was that I invited her over to meet Chip. When she arrived I was in the middle of hanging the washing out and had a laundry basket in the middle of the lawn. Hanging out the washing had become a frightening experience since the day that Chip had bitten down on my toe so hard that I flung my leg up into the air attempting to shake him off. The vicious beast clamped down even harder while I swung my leg around, screaming at him to get off. Said friend confidently strode onto the lawn and it was only a few seconds before Chip appeared from out of the flower beds. “Aw he’s so cute,” she crooned. A couple of minutes later she was running around the laundry basket in circles, chased by an angry tortoise who had been denied a taste of fresh meat.

I’d always thought that tortoises were meant to be vegetarian and I am sure most of them are. However, Chip was often to be found wandering around with a half chewed snail hanging out of his mouth, like a dog with a bone. When The Husband was landscaping the garden, he would often throw a worm over his shoulder rather than accidentally chop it in half with his spade. There was Chip right behind him catching them and swallowing them down whole. I have video evidence of Chip trying everything he could to climb up onto the patio while I was sitting there in order, no doubt, to attack me. He would go from one end to the other, trying to find a way to get up there. I often said if one of us were to drop down dead in the garden, then he would definitely eat us.

There was only one person that Chip did not seem to attack and that was The Youngest Child. In fact he used to follow her around like a little puppy. πŸ€”πŸ€” Maybe he could sense a kindred spirit there.

Despite the fact that he wasn’t the easiest pet, we have all been deeply affected by the death of Chip, particularly the manner in which he died. We will miss him so much and it has seemed quite odd that we are now able to step out into the garden without fear of being attacked. That was until Phoebe came along! Can tortoises be re-incarnated as plants I wonder. πŸ€”πŸ€”

Phoebe the Date Palm

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