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Duration:04:35
Uploaded:2014-05-16
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Jessi introduces Yucca the red footed tortoise and explains what makes her awesome!

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Hey guys we're at Animal Wonders, and I am super excited because we're on this awesome new adventure creating awesome content with a little help from our friends.

Today I'm really excited to share with you some behind the scenes stuff. That's really hard to say - behind the scenes stuff!

So a little bit about how Animal Wonders runs is we have three separate rooms for each large category of animals at Animal Wonders. Um, we have about 80 animals, and so we wanted to keep each of them at their optimum temperature.

Now, we didn't want to create 80 different environments, so we grouped them into three relatively similar categories and then we make adjustments as we go.

(Upbeat music)

So, we have the mammal room which is right behind you. We have the reptile room right here, and we have the bird room right here. Each one of them is uniquely temperature regulated, each one is uniquely noisy, and each one is uniquely smelly!

Let's visit the reptile room!

Meet the keeper of the reptile room! Yucca the red-footed tortoise is everything you could ask for in a watch tortoise. She marches, she patrols, she watches - nothing escapes her keen chelonian eyes.

Actually tortoise eyesight hasn't been thoroughly studied. It is thought that they're good at seeing general colors and objects, but that their detailed vision isn't as developed. Many tortoises have color preferences. Yucca really likes reds and oranges; that could just be because those are her favorite fruits.

Yucca is a red-footed tortoise that lives in the rainforest of South America. She's gonna get to live around 80 years and she'll be between 30 and 40 pounds.

You can find her wandering around the forest floors looking for fallen fruit and other vegetation, and when she finds one she's going to take a really big bite of it; she's not going to chew. She can take a bite of it and swallow it whole. She's going to consume it pretty slowly. This form of consumption allows seeds to remain intact, and so when she does finally eliminate it, it's going to be dispersed from its original location, and it's going to be packaged with this nice little goody bag of nutrients so it has a great start in life.

Look how pretty she is! I like to compliment her 'cause she's really sensitive. No, not emotionally sensitive - she is sense of touch sensitive though! Tortoises can actually feel everything through their shell; at one time it was common for people to be really, really rough on their shells, like they would go so far as to recommend drilling holes in their shell to tether them to places. And that'd be like drilling a hole through your tooth without anaesthetic.

I'm sure most people that care about animals have enough common sense to not drill through their pet's shell, but this little history lesson just goes to show how important research in the animals behavior, their anatomy, and physiology can be so that we all know it's common knowledge not to drill through a tortoise's shell.

People today still think that it's okay to knock on Yucca's shell - I mean, who does that? Are you going to go up to a dog and knock on their head or a cat or a hamster or a person? Don't knock on tortoise's shells.

Yucca actually has a favorite spot to be touched. Kind of like a dog likes its tail pet, she likes right here-here, right here pet. She loves this; we could just do this all day.

The TARDIS shell is bigger on the inside - no really, it's actually pretty snug in there. When they get scared they're going to pull their heads inside and then cover their heads with their arms like that, but in order to fit their head inside they have to exhale all the air in their lungs.

Now when we humans exhale, we almost immediately want to inhale again because the CO2 builds up in there, but tortoises are much more tolerant of the CO2 buildup, so that's going to allow them to hold their breath for much longer periods and stay safe from predators.

The same mechanism works for turtles when they're doing their deep sea dives. So the reptile room is a nice toasty 85 degrees during the day, and 75 at night, and that keeps most of our herps in a good natural range with a few exceptions. Yucca's really happy with the temperature. In the wild she would work to maintain her own temperature by going into the sun or the shade or by little pores in her shell, which is covered by scutes.

These tiny pores in the scutes help with thermoregulation by effectively trapping in radiant heat. Yucca outgrew every enclosure that we got her, so we just decided that we're just going to give her the run of the reptile room. It works out 'cause she's really social and she loves to be involved in everything we're doing; like right now she's climbing underneath me.

(End music)

What was the tortoise doing on the highway? About 100 millimeters an hour! (laughs)