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The Colt

The student news site of Arlington High School

The Colt

The student news site of Arlington High School

The Colt

Not your regular family pet

English teacher married into a family who kept unusual pets
Not your regular family pet

Cats, dogs, birds – those are the animals most families call pets, but English teacher Denise Bargsley and her husband think otherwise. They have over 50 tortoises they call their four-legged friends. The Colt sat down with Bargsley to learn more about her unusual pets.


The Colt: How long have you been raising tortoises?

Denise Bargsley: I’ve been raising tortoises for about five years. I married my husband and they kind of came with him. He also had snakes! 

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TC: What was your first thought when you found out he had them?

DB: I thought it was unusual.


TC: How long did your husband have the tortoises before you met? 

DB: He has had them since the mid-80s. We met in 2016.


TC: Why did he start raising tortoises? 

DB: He’s been interested in reptiles since he was a little boy.


TC: How many tortoises do you have?

DB: We have around 50-75 tortoises and over nine different types of tortoises. Only two of the larger tortoises are named, Hank and Harley. There are way too many others to name.


TC: Where in your house do they live?

DB: They live in the backyard during the summer. They roam around but they each have their own separate habitats. The big three sulcatas roam around anywhere in the backyard. When the weather is cold they live in a heated shed. 


TC: How do they handle Texas weather?

DB: They can not handle water under 50 degrees, but in warmer weather they’re already used to the heat because Sub-Saharan tortoises are used to weather over 82 degrees.


TC: What do they eat and drink?

DB: The tortoises eat grass, weeds, vegetables, and tortoise chow. They like apples, watermelon, and pumpkins as treats.


TC: How long do tortoises live?

DB: All we really know is that they’ll most likely outlive us. 


TC: Not to be morbid but since you said they’ll most likely outlive you and your husband, what is the plan for them if that happens?

DB: He’ll let his kids decide. But as we get older, we’ll probably whittle them down. Some of them are heavy to lift!

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