Heather Santana loves her young family and her kids love their playtime. Their favorite toy is their family pet - a Giant Tortoise.
Five-year-old Thais and 4-year-old Tiago love to play with Kobae, a 10-year-old tortoise, whose favorite snack is Romaine lettuce.
Santana's life has a few interesting twists, her tortoise, and her husband, Ze Roberto, who is a star defender for the San Diego Sockers. She likes to hauling the kids to his games and hauling her large tortoise around the neighborhood. Kobae can often be seen around the neighborhood going on walks and stopping to munch on weeds.
When she first brought Kobae home 10 years ago, the 85-pound tortoise fit in the palm of Heather’s hand,
"When I got it, I didn't realize the responsibility or, while I knew the size, I didn't really think it would be this big this quick," Santana said.
Kobae is a familiar sight around the neighborhood, however, every now and then he still gets few stares and a few second looks.
So what's it like having a tortoise? First, it's not cheap. Food for a tortoise consists of lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, the price tag is nearly 100-dollars a week. Heather says tortoises can be a bit messy… at both ends.
The kids get a kick out of playing with him, but he likes to eat their toys. The kids sometimes like to use his strong shell to beat on.
"It's kind of like a drum and it doesn't bother him at all that you are smacking him while you’re eating," Santana said.
On cold days, he stays in the garage under a heat lamp, but he's also got a house in the back yard.
"It's turned into a bigger chore, but just like anything else, it's part of the family," Santana said. "I'd never give him up. I'd never give him away."