A video showing a Japanese man walking his pet tortoise spread like wildfire online, going viral for not only the unusual sight but also because of their loving friendship. In the video shared by @sugiomart on TikTok, Mitani Hisao is walking his large African spurred tortoise named Bon-chan down a city street in Tsukishima, an area of Tokyo.
Bon-chan is around 25 years old old. The narrator says, “Mr. Mitani’s wife bought him when he was smaller than the size of the palm of his hand. They expected him to get big, but not this big. And he started to grow rapidly as soon as he hit 10 years old. Now he weighs 70 kilograms, which is about 150 pounds.”
African spurred tortoises are the third-largest species of tortoises in the world. It can take them more than 20 years to reach their full size and although they start off small, they can grow up to 200 pounds. So Bon-chan is pretty average for this kind of tortoise!
@sugoimartim only living for the kabuto on his head tbh 🐢 ##fyp ##foryoupage ##africantortoise ##japanthings ##animals ##japanlife ##tsukishima ##japan ##sugoimart♬ original sound – sugoimart
The narrator further explains that Mitani takes Bon-chan for “long walks”, saying locals “will definitely see Bon-chan taking a walk” from 3 to 5 p.m. “on a very nice day.” In fact, Mitani told the Daily Mail a few years ago that he takes the tortoise out two to three times a week and that the tortoise loves their walks together.
“Bon-chan knows the route by heart and is very strong-minded, so it is more me that follows him, than the other way around. We walk the neighbourhood and we are pretty famous around here,” said Mitani.
The tortoises are known to be very intelligent and don’t like to be cooped up.
Mitani also said he had an instant bond with Bon-chan. “I never had any children, but 19 years ago my wife caught the eyes of this little tortoise and felt an instant bond with him. I couldn’t leave the store without it. But we had no idea he would become this big… He knows all my dirty secrets – if he could talk I would be in trouble.”
Bon-chan is well known in the area and people love to say “hello” to the pair.
Now, sulcata tortoises not only grow very big, they can live for more than 70 years, so there are many things to consider if you are thinking of getting one as a pet.
In the video below, a pet owner shares some real facts about owning and caring for the African tortoise. What she says about their pooping and peeing and the size they grow certainly does not make them sound like an ideal apartment pet. Then there’s the digging…so do your research!