Caring for exotic tortoises a great way to relieve stress

18 May 2024 08:30am
Among the land tortoises kept as pets by Muhammad Jantan in Durian Tunggal in Melaka. - Photo by Bernama
Among the land tortoises kept as pets by Muhammad Jantan in Durian Tunggal in Melaka. - Photo by Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR - Spending RM100,000 to purchase 31 land tortoises as pets may seem wasteful but for Muhammad Jantan, it is a worthwhile "investment” as he finds caring for the reptiles a good stress-buster after a hard day at work.

The 29-year-old proprietor of a marketing consulting company said his interest in these exotic animals came about after he noticed many Indonesian social media influencers keeping them as pets.

His tortoise collection started with the purchase of two four-month-old Sulcata tortoises in June last year, each costing RM500. He quickly became enamoured of the testudines and soon his collection increased to 31.

"I now have 24 African spurred tortoises of the Sulcata breed, six leopard tortoises and one Indian star tortoise, their ages ranging from one month to 35 years,” the father-of-two told Bernama.

Out of the 24 African spurred tortoises, three are giant tortoises which he named Mila, Bedah and Habib. They are between 56 and 60 centimetres long and weigh 35 to 50 kilogrammes each.

Muhammad, who lives in Durian Tunggal in Melaka, said before deciding to rear land tortoises, he did some research, including on social media platforms, to get tips on how to care for the reptiles.

Regularly sharing photos and antics of his exotic pets on his TikTok account where he goes by the name Abah Sulcata, Muhammad said their eating habits are among the things he finds endearing.

"I spend quite a lot on their food as tortoises are animals that eat all the time. Every day, I prepare their food in large quantities of around 10 kilogrammes but I feed them only once a day to enable them to digest the food properly,” he said, adding the reptiles can get kidney stones or the flu if they overeat.

Their diet consists of vegetables and fruits such as leafy vegetables, long beans and watermelon as well as hibiscus and mulberry leaves and fresh grass. They are also fed a special type of bran mixed with calcium powder twice a day. Their food bill comes to RM2,500 to RM3,000 a month.

Muhammad has built a special enclosure next to his house to ensure the tortoises can move freely, thus facilitating their growth.

He has also erected a special structure, fitted with ultraviolet B and A light, to house his tortoises aged below one to ensure the temperature is conducive to their growth.

"The tortoises that are still young must be kept separately for fear they may get crushed by the adult tortoises,” he said, adding all his pet tortoises have licences issued by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan). The licences have to be renewed every year.

Considering their high selling prices, Muhammad is planning to apply for a licence from Perhilitan to breed and sell land tortoises.

Hoping to implement his plan by the end of this year, he said he will also have to open a pet shop to exhibit some of his tortoises for potential buyers to view. - BERNAMA

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