Marc Morrone / Newsday

Q: We have a red-footed tortoise that is now 12-inches long, and we were wondering with the hot weather if it is OK for us to keep Shelley loose in our backyard for the rest of the summer. We have a small yard that is enclosed by a 4-foot-high cinder block wall, so he cannot climb out.

A: This is a really great thing for your tortoise to do as long as you do not have the lawn sprayed with any chemicals. Free-ranging tortoises love to eat dandelions and other treats they find growing outdoors. I also would advise against putting Shelley loose in the yard unless you are with him. You say the wall is 4-feet high, so anybody could jump the wall and steal the tortoise.

So, yes, Shelley can enjoy the yard, but only when you are there to supervise.