Lancashire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Hannah Russell
Features Writer
1:03 AM 4th November 2023

Meet Ernie The Marginated Tortoise

Hannah with Ernie
Hannah with Ernie
Sat in my office, I’ve got my wire-haired dachshund, Pip, sitting at my feet, looking out the window, wondering when the rain might stop. He’s never been a fan of the rain, and I usually have to stand over him with an umbrella or else he refuses to go out in the rainy weather. Although I can’t really blame him, I’ve got the fire on in the log cabin, so it’s very cosy.

I’m also sitting and watching Ernie explore around her tortoise table. Ernie is the new arrival here at Swinton Green. She is a marginated tortoise and needed a home, so she has come along to me and joined the growing family of animal friends. Ernie is a girl so we might have to rename her to Edith but we love the name Ernie for now and she seems to love it!

Ernie is a different species of tortoise from Arthur; if you’ve followed him for a while, you will have already met him in one of my earlier posts. Ernie is a lot smaller and doesn’t eat grass like Arthur.

Ernie is primarily native to the southern parts of Greece and Italy, with a few isolated populations on islands in those areas. She has a gorgeous shell and adult marginated tortoises are most easily recognised by the intense flaring of the rear of the shells, which is often described as a skirt. This is so they can climb and camouflage in rocky areas.

Like most tortoises, Ernie requires special care and heat in captivity to make sure she stays happy and healthy. Generally, marginated tortoises are kept in captivity, and Ernie has a lovely large tortoise table in my office with lots of enrichment things inside her pen, such as rocks to climb on, brushes to brush her shell against after a nice warm bath, food bowls, balls for hay so she can roll around as she feeds and slate, which helps her keep her beak filed down.

Arthur the Sulcata
Arthur the Sulcata
For next year, we will also be building Ernie a lovely area outdoors so she can enjoy the natural sunlight and explore the outdoors. Her diet often consists of leafy greens such as dandelion leaves, lettuce, carrots, spring greens, watercress, and many other greens that are safe for Ernie to eat!

Ernie also has special hay cubes and a supplement called hard feed, which is for tortoises. I also sprinkle tortoise calcium on Ernie’s feed, which helps with shell health and growth; this is only required around three times a week. I keep a special log online with all my animal health and care sheets!

Ernie has already been meeting visitors here at Swinton Green and getting involved with therapy intervention programmes. She’s enjoying all the attention and is a very friendly tortoise.