Harriet, the Tent Tortoise.

Back in January of this year, I (Jellybean #2) became the proud mum of a two-year-old Hermann tortoise. I took on the commitment of keeping the armoured, four-legged creature alive, believing that Jellybean and Guy Rope #1 would be able to provide free tortoise-care during my future holidays. How wrong was I… less than a year later and we’re looking into group canvas trips! At home, Harriet has her very own ‘Tortoise Table’ equipped with all of the equipment a reptile could ever wish for, as well as an outdoor enclosure to trash whenever the weather deems fit! Realising that neither of these would fit inside the tent, let alone the car, this meant there was only one thing for it. Shopping. Harriet gained a smaller travel size ‘home away from home’ and an ‘aeroplane’ ready for her first holiday!

On one of their rare visits to their concrete home, having become very attached to Harriet, Mum joked “can I steal her and take her back to the caravan with me…you can pick her up when you come camping?” … before Dad could object, his car was being filled with Harriet’s belongings and she was ready for take-off aboard her aeroplane. Engine started, Dad drives away whilst Mum waves frantically whilst holding Harriet up to the window…good god, I hope she makes it back in one piece.

The trip took off to a flying start, tortoise settled and parents maintaining a loving gaze to hide their inner panicking voice… ‘what do we do with this thing?!’. However, they soon became confident tortoise grandparents and during her caravan travelling trip, she visited several counties on numerous weekend trips away with them!  By the time we arrived for our camping trip, they were utterly in love and providing her with the five-star service of a freshly picked dandelion and sow-thistle breakfast each day (courtesy of my early-rising Mum)! It has to be said that I was highly disappointed when she didn’t break free from her housing to greet me as a dog would, considering she hadn’t seen me in a few weeks. She didn’t even wake up from her mid-afternoon snooze.

As Harriet remained snuggled in the kitchen of the parent’s compound overnight, we thought it would be a good chance to have a trial run of what it would be like camping with a tortoise. Overnight the outside temperatures dropped to degrees that would send my little armoured baby into an early hibernation. However, having packed a handy radiator, the bedroom compartment of our tent remained a toasty 20 degrees throughout the night. This proved to be very comfortable overnight, as the fluffy socks were made redundant. But in the morning, our airbed resembled a pool of sweat as we’d almost died from heat stroke… “TURN THAT RADIATOR OFF!”.

With the knowledge that we could control the drop in temperature, we took the next few hours to introduce her to our canvas home. Even the short burst of rain didn’t interrupt the fun as a ‘cardboard box fort’, with a built in flipflop climbing frame, was promptly constructed for her to explore. Her little legs couldn’t carry her fast enough as she excitedly clambered all over her new play pen! They say that tortoises don’t like change, but my little adventurer seems to thrive when given a new environment to discover.

So without further ado, let me introduce you to… Harriet the tent tortoise.

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