Visit Tank the Turtle at the Davidsonville Nursery

Most young couples get a dog or a cat as a pet. Davidsonville Nursery owner Shawn Stallings bought his wife Brianna an African Spurred Tortoise nine years ago as a present because she loves turtles. These are not the typical little box turtles you might find at a Petco. These tortoises are large animals. The only tortoise species that is larger is the Giant Tortoise from the Galapagos Islands.

The turtle is a member of the Stallings family, but he has also become a mascot for the nursery. Tank lives in the main greenhouse. It’s the perfect setting for a Spurred Tortoise. Plenty of warmth, a place to move around, and close enough to the people that Tank seems so enamored of.

He eats a head of lettuce and two pounds of green beans a day. He goes to the vet regularly and gets plenty of exercise traveling around the green house.

“He will plow over anything, especially if he is hungry,” Stallings said.

African Spurred Tortoise’s are known for their good disposition. Tank is friendly and when he is hungry follows customers and employees around.

African Spurred Tortoises live a long time. Up to 90 years in captivity and 150 in the wild.

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Stallings didn’t have a name for the turtle in the beginning. But as he got bigger and roamed the yard, he would make tracks that looked like tank tracks. His name soon followed—Tank.

The African Spurred Tortoise is known for being very tame and outgoing—and among the most hardy of pet tortoises. It isn’t a pet for everyone though. They get very big, live a long time, and have more care requirements than the average pet.

Lucky for Tank, Stallings has the nursery, where Tank can live in the comfort of the greenhouse. Tortoises need a warm place, at least 60 degrees. In the summer, the green house gets too warm, so Tank vacations at the Stallings home in Pasadena. There Tank can roam the back yard and play with the four Stallings’ daughters.

When Tank goes on vacation to north county, Stallings lifts him into a pen that he built escpecially for the tortoise.

“Tank travels very well. He likes to go on vacation,” he said.

Tank fit in the palm of Shawn’s hand when he first came to the Stallings’ home. When he came to the nursery in 2007, he weighed just 20 pounds. He is now 60 pounds, and will eventually grow to between 150 and 300 pounds.

“He is our mascot,” said Stallings. “He is quite content here and enjoys when people come to visit him,” Stallings sad. “When he is hungry, he follows me around like a lost dog.”

Stallings mentioned anyone is welcome to visit Tank during regular business hours.

“A lot of people know he’s here and stop by to say ‘hello.’”

Right now, Tank is awaiting visitors who come to Davidsonville Nursery at 3659 Riva Road for Christmas Trees, roping and wreaths. The hours are: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday  to Thursday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

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About Cynthia Giorgio

I'm Cynthia Giorgio, co-founding editor of South River Source. I love to write about the people, places, news and events in South County. Send story ideas to or call me at 301-906-4767.

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