THESE cute tortoises are looking for a new home –and whoever buys them will help an orphanage in Africa.
The babies hatched this week, far earlier than tortoises normally do thanks to the warm winter.
Now owner Sally Walker, from Waterlooville, will sell them in return for a donation to the Hands of Love orphanage, which helps children in Uganda.
She has a total of 14 tiny animals looking for new homes.
Most of the time, tortoise eggs are laid in early summer and hatch in June, July or August.
But Sally was shocked when she realised eggs had been laid in November.
‘Normally they go into hibernation and come back in the spring,’ she added.
‘But because it was warm they produced eggs in November.’
Sally said her fascination with tortoises started when she was seven years old.
‘We were going out the door and I found a tortoise at the back of the house,’ she said.
‘It belonged to the neighbours who had just moved in.
‘They didn’t want it any more and said I could keep it. I think they are fascinating.
‘Tortoises have changed very little since the dinosaur era.
‘Some species have evolved but the basic design hasn’t changed that much in 30 million years.
‘They will be around long after we’re gone.
‘They are simple creatures – they live by instinct.
‘If disaster strikes they can go into ground and stay there. They are the survivors. They are the good design that lasted.
‘In the winter they hibernate and go to sleep but in the summer they come out in the sunshine.’
Sally has been involved with Hands of Love since 2007 and two years ago she flew out to Uganda to visit the orphanage.
‘I was so impressed with what I saw there and the ways it’s been handled and run,’ she added.
‘I came home and decided that I wanted to do more. It’s occupied a lot of my time. It’s so amazing what they are achieving there.
‘So doing this is wonderful. It’s something extra.
‘I work very hard for Hands of Love anyway but it’s lovely that I’m reaching out to more people and people are sharing the joy of giving to Hands of Love.’
The charity supports an orphanage and a primary and a small secondary school in a very poor rural area of Uganda.
The orphanage cares for nearly 500 children aged between three and 19. Many of them suffer from malnutrition and malaria.
To purchase a tortoise please call Sally on (023) 9225 3213.