Gertie, a spur-thighed tortoise who lives in a beautiful habitat outside the science classrooms on the Bolles Middle School Bartram Campus, has newly updated quarters thanks to the generosity of a friend.
The 18-year-old tortoise now abides in a spacious 50 by 55 by 35 shelter made of pretreated wood that will better endure local weather conditions. The house also includes a heat thermostat for colder months, a garden hose for fresh water supply and a personalized name plate. Captain Ralph Olivett, a family friend of a Bartram teacher, offered to make the new house for Gertie after seeing the habitat during a recent campus visit.
“Spur-thighed tortoises can live to be 150 years old, so we are thankful to Captain Olivett for providing a long-lasting home,” said English Lead Teacher and Animal Lovers Club sponsor Deborah Carney. Gertie began his life at Bolles as a little tortoise living in a tank inside science teacher Laura Boswell’s classroom. Over the years, students have learned many lessons from Gertie, including reptile characteristics and food consumption, as well as specialized adaptions reptiles make to survive in their environments and how to compare and contrast turtles and tortoises.
The Animal Lovers’ Club was particularly grateful for Gertie’s new home. Members wrote to Olivett, thanking him for the habitat on Gertie’s behalf.