It’s mid-June. I say “Where’s Geronimo?” More than I ask “Where are we going, Geronimo?”
Because we’ve reached the point in the desert summer where he’s scarce for days at a time, entombing himself deep in his burrow in order to stay cool. He was nowhere to be found all last week. On Saturday afternoon, my daily peek into his burrow was met with Geronimo sitting inside, just at the entrance. At long last!
He didn’t look good. My sweet reptile son was listless and encrusted with mud, and it seemed that he could barely open his eyes. He’s obviously dehydrated, said my maternal instinct. Perhaps severely. I leaped into mommy-emergency-mode.
Geronimo has access to the “watering hole” (the large dish that we keep filled with water for the wildlife as well as for Geronimo and Salem), but – to my consternation – he never goes in on his own. I quickly dumped it, rinsed it, filled it with fresh water just cooler than lukewarm, and ran back to Geronimo’s burrow. I snatched him out and hurried him back to the watering hole.
I put him in the water nose-first. That’s how he realizes that he’s thirsty… water touching his nose. When I set him down, he submerged his head and kept it underwater for a good long minute, just drinking and drinking. I’d never seen him hold his head underwater for that long, or drink so much water all at once.
Mud swirled around him. I waited for him to surface before I lifted him out to rinse and re-fill the dish. He promptly dunked his head again and drank and drank and drank as I poured water over his head and back.
I’m not exactly a helicopter parent, but I admit to being the hand-wringing sort. In this case, I had good reason to wring my hands. What if I hadn’t checked on him? He was just sitting there. He wasn’t coming out to drink the water that he so clearly needed.
Geronimo’s eyes were wide open when he climbed out of his dish. He was beautifully clean and smooth! I hoped that he would stay out and walk around so he could dry off, but he went directly home to his burrow, of course. Straight back into the dirt, soaking wet.
The next day, Sunday, I found him at the entrance of his burrow again, predictably covered in mud. His eyes were open and he looked a little livelier, but I repeated the soaking process. He held his head underwater and drank as if the day before hadn’t happened. He blew bubbles through his nostrils as I rinsed him all over. Callaghan joined the party. I held Geronimo up, and Callaghan hosed off his undercarriage.
That time, Geronimo went around the yard and ate, starting with the kale I brought out for him. Have I mentioned that kale is his new thing? He still loves Romaine lettuce, but kale is his favorite treat now! He happily ate kale, hibiscus flowers and leaves, grasses and weeds. He doesn’t eat the verbena, but he likes to sniff them.
I’ve got a few video clips, if you’re interested. In the one where he’s walking back to his burrow, I’d gotten in front of him to retreat at his pace with my phone recording his walk. He’s faster than he looks. Before that, there was a lot of “Where are we going, Geronimo?” happening all over the yard as he foraged.
I love to walk him back to his burrow and tuck him in.
That’s the latest, my friends. Geronimo’s favorite time of year is coming up: monsoon season! I’ll be back with another update after he revels in the first summer storm of 2020.
2 thoughts on “The Geronimo updates I’ve been promising. (Desert tortoise update!)”
Hey there! Love love love Geronimo! Not sure if you’ve tried it yet but my boy Vern’s favorite right now is dandelion greens. He goes mad for them! Can’t wait to see monsoon photos. Stay well!
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Hey! I read that they love dandelion greens! I should try tempting Geronimo with them. Vern is a lucky boy! Thanks, and you stay well, too. =)