I acquired my first Desert Tortoise, Doris, when my younger brother Rick passed away in 2004. Naturally Doris means a lot to me because there is a living connection between Doris, Rick and me. My brother spent a lot of "quality time" with Doris from the time he adopted Doris as a hatchling in about 2000, so Doris loves people.
When I brought Doris home with me in August of 2004, my husband and I built an enclosure in the back yard, including a burrow dug to the specifications of the Desert Tortoise Society. Since Desert Tortoises are a protected species, owning one is serious business. The burrow allows the tortoise to escape the desert heat, and a place to hibernate, which they do from about November until March.
In 2006, we were quite surprised to discover that Doris is a male! (It's difficult to tell the sex until they are at least five years old). But the underside of Doris' shell was becoming concave, which allows a male to "fit" over the rounded top of the female shell when mating. I just didn't have the heart to change the name my brother had given him, so we still call him Doris.
Naturally, when March rolls around, I start looking for Doris every day. This year, March came and went, but no Doris. Finally, last weekend, with April almost over, I was so upset that my dear husband dug up the burrow. It took a lot of digging, but my husband finally found him, hopelessly wedged behind a large rock. I don't think Doris would have made it out of the burrow by himself.
Doris seemed pretty grumpy, but happy to be out. He took a long drink of water and munched away the afternoon. My husband redug the burrow, taller and wider, so it is once again a safe place for Doris to hide.