Tuesday Timelapse: Breakfast With Buster

Buster is our 10-year-old Russian tortoise. All that you wanted to know about her and her meal this morning but didn’t really care to learn can be found after the jump. Or you can just enjoy the diversion that is the above video (though I’d recommend going full-screen to capture the nomnom’ing chelonian in all her sped-up glory.

So named in honor of Buster Keaton because of the stoic expression they both share, my mother found her burrowed into the dirt beneath a trashcan along the side of her Sherman Oaks house in October 2001, an escapee from a neighbor I couldn’t locate and so I gave the tiny land turtle a home that was a succession of larger but always inadequate fish tanks for the first 7 years we were together.

Finally in 2008 I purchased the lumber and built her an outdoor pen, and she went from having four square feet of glass-walled indoor space to the 25 square feet of Silver Lake backyard you see in this video. MUCH better for her.

Anyway, what this video first captures is me going through the motions of freshening up the water bowl she NEVER drinks from and picking up the uneaten bits of her previous meal before setting out her fresh breakfast, which consists of mixed greens (mustard, collard and turnip greens along with some spinach), some snail vine blossoms (her absolute seasonal favorite!), some sliced carrot, butternut squash, sweet peppers and broccoli. Then I spritz the pile of deliciousness with water and sprinkle upon it a ground-up store-bought mixture of dry grasses (alfafa, timothy, oat) supplemented with a dash of calcium/phosphorus powder.

A few minutes after I finish and leave, the sun gets up high enough for its rays to rouse Buster, and away she soon goes on the NomNom Express, making multiple and entertainingly (to me, at least) enthusiastic passes at the food in between wondering around the grounds. Bonus: she can also be seen voiding her bladder and pooping at various points along the way. And you might also spy me sweeping and Ranger the dog ranging momentarily in the background, but neither of us void anything, you’re welcome. At least not in the frame.

All told this is about 2.5 hours (between 8:30 and 11 a.m.) of a “Day in the Life of Buster the Tortoise” condensed down to three minutes. I hope you enjoy it.

5 thoughts on “Tuesday Timelapse: Breakfast With Buster”

  1. I LOVE THIS! I have a box turtle named Myrtle who’s been living in a big fish tank for the last 5 years but I recently moved to a house with a backyard. Wanting to upgrade him to an outdoor pen but trying to figure out the best way to build one. Any tips you might have would be awesome :)

    1. Thanks AgentD. In lieu of tips, I do have a Flickr photoset when we built the tortoise hutch that provides something of a how-to:


      The one modification made from the finished product was I replaced the bottom screening with an actual plywood floor. My original thinking was the screening would aid in drainage, but I didn’t factor in that the screen in no way could support the actual weight of the dirt.

      Good luck with an outdoor home for your box turtle. If you have any other questions, just holler!

  2. This is the same tortoise that went to the Blessing of the Animals, isn’t it? Perhaps when not eating, checking out the various places to hang out in the tortoise den, he’s considering writing a book, My Travels and What I Ate.
    Janwillem van de Wetering wrote a series of books about some Amsterdam cops…Grijpstra and de Gier.
    Their boss, the Commissaris, has a turtle in his garden and it is sometimes when confronted with difficult decisions that he turns to the turtle. In one book, he leaves his wife, goes to stay in another apartment, but he takes his turtle with him. An odd series, quite enjoyable, and while the turtle does not figure prominently in any of the stories, he’s still there, and memorable.

    1. Hi Gabriele! Indeed Buster is our annual household ambassador who attends the Blessing of the Animals, each year.

      I’m not sure if there’s a bestseller in the works, but like the character you mention, I have sought Buster’s wise council on several occasions during our time together. She’s never steered me wrong.

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