A regular roadside sighting from Little River, SC to Ocean Isle Beach, NC is Randy Gallagher and his bale of African Spurred Tortoises.
A Calabash resident, Randy Gallagher a.k.a. “Turtleman” will routinely load up his gang of eight TESTUDINES in a specialized red covered trailer and frequent grassy plots from HWY 179 to HWY 17S. A captivated audience is sure to gather as curious passers-by pull over to visit with Randy and his extraordinary menagerie. He will happily answer any questions and even allow small children to ride his heftier fellas. When I managed a quick visit yesterday, Mr. Gallagher was entertaining an inquisitive crowd with his collection of enormous pets. The larger individuals were allowed to graze freely under close supervision. Juveniles of the herd were more restricted, corralled within wooden enclosures made from 2x4’s.
The diet for these mammoths isn’t reliant on mowing grass alone. They also enjoy flowers, cactus, fruits and various leafy vegetables.
Unlike the famous Galapagos Island Tortoises that can become a colossal 700-800 pounds, these African Spurred Tortoises (Geochelone sulcata) reach a ‘mere’ 200 lbs. “Hammer” a 30+ year old, is one of the larger tortoises weighing in at 100 lbs. and was avidly munching on the grass underfoot in the afternoon sun.
I spoke to Mr. Gallagher about visiting the Ocean Isle Inn in the near future. Since we feature pool parties throughout the summer months, we are looking forward to a “Turtorial” for the kids. Randy will educate the public about the unusual creatures and inform them about the Rescue Mission.