Welcome to ThePoeLog, Yertle. You’ve cancelled this interview four times over the last three weeks. What gives?
Yertle: Get off my shell! I’ve been busy. I just moved from Chicago back to my native habitat of Nevada (I’m the state reptile, you know). And, well, let’s just say I’ve been settling in.
ThePoeLog: Let’s take a question from one of your readers. Masha asked, “Is that your cat?” Other readers pointed out that you appear to be a turtle. What exactly are you?
Yertle: Yeah, I get that a lot. Well, not the cat part, but the turtle stuff. Big difference: I’m a desert tortoise, native to the Mojave and Sonoran Desert of the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. I’m way bigger than a turtle — I weigh 10 lbs, but some tortoises can weigh up to 15 lbs when fully grown.
Also: I hibernate, which turtles don’t do. And, frankly, I’m more special than a turtle. In fact, I’m an endangered species in the wild. It is unlawful to touch, harm, harass or collect wild desert tortoises. You can, however, adopt one bred in captivity, which is how XFE’s family found me.
ThePoeLog: So how old are you?
Yertle: Well, XFE got me when he was about 10 years old, so I’m around 30 years old. But I could live to be 80 or even 100 years old. I’ve got really good genes and I keep pretty active. You know, at the craps table.
ThePoeLog: Where do you live and why don’t you live with XFE?
Yertle: Like I said, I just retired from the Chicago grind after 16 years, and moved to Las Vegas full time. I live in the house, but I like to spend a fair amount of time outdoors, getting some sun.
I don’t live with XFE because 1) I like where I’m at; 2) I hear XFE has stairs, which I’m not too good at; 3) I’m not too sure about that whole cat thing. I already live with a dog (Frankie) and we get along pretty good, so I’m not really looking to mix it up with a cat.
ThePoeLog: Do you not get along with other animals? How do you defend yourself? Do you bite? Do you have teeth?
Yertle: Whoa! Slow down! No, I don’t bite or have teeth. As for other animals, I do my thing and they do their thing. But if they get too close, I will hiss. I also hiss when I get picked up. Mostly, I just want to be left alone.
I’m also pretty fast, faster than some people might expect, and I’m pretty stubborn. I’ve been called a tank, because I just go and I don’t really let anything get in my way. I’m not going to lie: One defense mechanism the tortoise has when it is handled is to empty its bladder. It’s not pretty, but effective.
ThePoeLog: That brings up a good point – where do you go to the bathroom? Do you go outside like a dog?
Yertle: I don’t really drink a lot of water, so it’s not like I gotta a lot of pee or anything. Hell, I can survive up to a year without water. I also have a very large bladder and can store over forty percent of my body weight in water and waste. But basically, I go wherever I want, and whenever. It’s a tiny bit, so it’s not a big deal. My peeps clean up after me.
ThePoeLog: What do you eat?
Yertle: I’m straight up herbivore. I eat a lot of kale, salads, you know, with spring mix. I like tomatoes, strawberries, green beans. I like to treat myself to hibiscus flowers once in a while. I eat a lot during the summer to store up for hibernation time. No spinach though. I don’t like spinach.
ThePoeLog: Tell us about your hibernation – how long is it? How do you know it’s time? Where do you sleep?
Yertle: I generally start slowing down in late October, as the days get colder. What better way to escape a cold Chicago winter than to go to sleep, am I right? By October, I’ve got some nice fat stored up with reserves around my legs and shoulders. I like to sleep under the bed in the master bedroom. I burrow down into some blankets and get my dream on. My peeps check on me periodically and I’ll respond if my foot is touched. When the days begin to warm, around March or April, I start to become active again, slowly moving around, looking for something to drink (I’m real thirsty). Within a week or two, I’m back to my normal level of activity, eating, exercising and sunbathing.
ThePoeLog: So, what do you do all day when you’re not hibernating?
Yertle: I like to be in the center of the action, so I hang out in the kitchen a lot. I like to find a corner to put my head in and then just chill. You never know when a bit of kale might fall to the floor.
I also go outside and work on my tan, maybe roam around the yard, looking for any opportunities to escape. I like my home, but I’m of course interested in the world at large. I’ve gotten out a couple of times, but I always get caught and brought back. Dude’s gotta try, right? I’m also big into digging. My front limbs have sharp, claw-like scales and are flattened for digging, so I’m pretty good at that.
ThePoeLog: You have a pool. Does that mean you’re a good swimmer?
Yertle: Not at all. I’m a terrible swimmer. This shell really doesn’t do me any favors either.
ThePoeLog: Everyone thinks that turtles are slow. Is that a fair portrayal?
Yertle: You know, I’m really glad you asked about that, because I have a real issue with the media’s portrayal of turtles and tortoises. Listen, if you were carrying a house on your back, you wouldn’t exactly be a sprinter either. The way that companies like Comcast portray tortoises is totally irresponsible and just not accurate. I mean, the Slowskys? Really? That’s pretty funny coming from a company that can’t get its act together. Every time my peeps try to use their OnDemand, it doesn’t work. And if you call customer service, they tell you that it’s a free service and therefore, you shouldn’t really get your scales in a fluff if it’s now working. Which is ridiculous! First of all, it’s provided with the package that people pay for – that’s not free! Anyway, sorry. I get quite worked up on the Slowskys issue.
ThePoeLog: One last question – MelgFox asked, “how do you pronounce XFE. I have a friend who is now following thePoeLog blog and we were just wondering. Is it just X. F. E. BTW love the name Yertle.”
Yertle: I think the X is kinda like in Xavier, which also sounds like Javier, so I would say the X sounds like a soft “h.” Which would mean XFE sounds like “jefe” which is Spanish for boss. XFE = boss.