Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Snow on the Superstitions

Today there has been much frenzy over desert snow in Phoenix, Tucson, and many other towns in Arizona. Facebook has been covered in discussions about it and people have been posting all sorts of pictures of the snow. So, I decided I had to go out and get some shots of snow on the Superstition Mountains:

The next couple of shots were taken on the road to Canyon Lake.

This is the view of Usery Mountain Regional Park from the Superstitions.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Meet Our New Tortoise!

So, at the beginning of February, we got a pet tortoise. Bill's cousin's neighbor found it in his backyard and we got to keep it. When we first got it, we weren't sure what kind of tortoise it was, what it ate, where it should live, or how old it was. We decided to name him James T. Kirk (Jimmy or "Little Dude" for short) and then we got to researching.
This is him sitting on Bill's desk while we were looking for pictures of different tortoises online. The coins next to him should give you an idea of how big he is.

  He didn't like my camera lens too much lol.

We discovered that's he's a Sulcata or "African Spur." They're originally from the Sahara Desert region. A perfect tortoise for Phoenix! They live for around 150 years and can reach 200 pounds. Good thing we have plenty of space in our backyard! We talked to someone at a reptile store and they think Jim is a few months old.

An adult sulcata.

  This was our initial experiment for his "house." The log and the flipped over paper bowl are "hides" because baby tortoises are used to hiding most of the time from predators. The light above is a UVA/UVB light to help him get enough vitamin D and the red light to the right is a heat lamp. The other two containers are his food and water dishes.
We put him in here to show him his new "hide." He promptly turned around and went under his heat lamp because it was too cold in there. We had to change this cage arrangement right away because we woke up in the morning and he had flipped himself over trying to climb up the log. Apparently baby sulcatas do this all the time because they like to try and climb on everything lol.

This is Jim taking a walk around his new cage set up.

At night, we turn off his UVA/UVB light. Reptiles can't see the red light from the heat lamp, so they can sleep with it on. He often sleeps on his basking rock.
I decided to make him a new hide out of a lunch meat container since it would stay warmer than a paper bowl. It's his new favorite spot.
 His front door.
 What his cage looked like after we rearranged it.
Jim hiding under his log while Bill moved his water dish to a better location.

Jim could see the outside through the plastic walls of his container and kept clawing at the walls, so I put paper on the sides. He kept clawing anyway lol. Apparently if these tortoises can see anything that they want outside of their cage, they'll go after it.
He likes to sleep in the corner by his basking light.
 Jim likes to pace around his enclosure when he's feeling energetic. This day, he paced so much that he rearranged his dirt.
Sometimes Jim likes to hang out by his new 'pool' and let one leg hang in for good measure.

Sometimes he falls asleep this way.

This is Jim soaking in his paper bowl. We have to soak him frequently to keep him from getting dehydrated. Baby sulcatas spend most of their time hiding in humid holes in the wild. The adults are more suited to being exposed to dry air.

Jim's walk around his enclosure.

Watching Jim eat and walk around his cage makes me think of a tiny dinosaur. It's adorable. Every time I see it, The Rite of Spring animation from Fantasia (the one with the dinosaurs and volcanoes) goes through my head. So, here is Jim eating and walking set to The Rite of Spring, 1st movement.