Introduction; Walter

Please meet Walter…

I have been waiting a very long time to formally introduce Walter, the gopher tortoise. He came into our lives unexpectantly (as I suppose most critters do!). Walter is just a baby. Many many months ago he was minding his own business and enjoying the day when he stumbled upon a fire ant hill. Now, if you are not familiar with fire ants, well…you’re lucky 😀 Fire ants are rotten rotten little critters. They have aquired the name fire ants because when they bite, the sting feels similar to being burned with fire. These critters are nasty. Google fire ants and nursing homes and you can understand the damage they can do. Back to Walter….minding his own business, sun is shining birds are chirping and kapow! Right through a fire ant hill. Luckily, this all occurred in the yard of hubby’s uncle. He saw itty bitty Walter (nickname: Fireball 😉 ) scooped him up and managed to stop the ant attack. He brought Walter to us, since hubby has extensive knowledge on caring for reptiles.

Walter was in bad shape. At first we wanted to believe that maybe he was a brand new hatchling, and his eyes would open at any moment. Sadly, the truth was that the fire ants had made his eyes non-existant. His neck was so swollen from all of the bites he was not able to retract his head into his shell. We did not think that he was going to make it, but we also knew that so long as he was alive, we would do what we could for him. We put neosporin on his eyes and all the bites. We tried with all of our might to get him to eat. We did a little happy dance when he finally drank. And then we contacted the important people…Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. The thing about Walter? He’s a Gopher Tortoise. The thing about Gopher Tortoises? They are a threatened species in the state of Florida and are therefore protected by law. Hubby contacted a FWC agent he knows and was able to get Walter to a woman who rehabilitates tortoises.

The woman who was rehabilitating him was going to be moving. We were able to get Walter back after going through the process of applying for a permit so that we can legally keep him. The process was a little difficult and confusing, but I got some awesome help, submitted the application. And waited. And waited. Months went by. And then the other night I got the official word. Walter is ours 🙂

Sometimes when I look at Walter I feel sad for him. But then I realize that he really is quite the fighter. He was SO small (really, he is STILL so small!) the only way that he lived, I honesly believe, is because he wanted to live. He was in such bad shape, it would have been much easier for his little body to just give up. I cannot imagine the pain he must have been in. I have been bit by, at most, maybe ten fire ants at one time, and I know the pain was incredible. This poor guy was COVERED in them. And he survived. He is a little fighter ♥

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