In the midst of all that’s going on in the world right now, I feel the need to share a story that I hope will bring smiles to faces today. We all need a reprieve from life every once in a while yeah?
This is Turtle:
Let’s rewind back to oh, 2008ish. I was a freshman in college. I lived in a dorm with a roommate and my high school Biology teacher had imparted the gift of a baby corn snake to me. I named him Y because he had a Y on his head. Y didn’t last long because the stupid snake wouldn’t eat no matter what I tried. We buried Y outside under one of the trees in front of Miller.
I was following the school forum and came across a student who found this turtle in the river and didn’t want it anymore. I don’t even want to explain the lecture I gave this person about how they should have left the turtle in the river… Anyway, the turtle wasn’t doing well because she had it in a fish bowl (!!!) and basically got bored of it. It’s a turtle.. not a dog. Of course it’s going to be a bit more boring! So I got it into my head that I would rescue this turtle and give it a better life.
I decked Turtle out. Got a big 40 gallon tank and had a waterfall fountain and all these pretty stones on the bottom! It was awesome! One time I decided to try and give Turtle live fish; little comets you can get from the pet store. I bought three of them and put them in the tank. Turtle didn’t seem interested at first and then a few days later two disappeared. The last one stuck around for months! My husband named the fish Philip and I’m sitting here like don’t name the fish. Turtle needs to eat him! Philip grew and grew and I panicked because I did not want a pet fish. I tried starving turtle out for months but, I learned, turtles hibernate! One day though we did look in the tank and Philip was gone….
Back to turtles hibernating! Turtles can hibernate! This means they give their owners heart attacks because they stay underwater for days and look dead! I remember walking over to the tank and he was just sitting on the bottom. I didn’t think anything of it at first until he was still doing it the next day. I freaked out and yelled at my husband to reach in the tank and make sure Turtle was alive! I just couldn’t do it. He reached in there like a good gentleman, and gave me the same look Turtle did like “can’t a man nap in peace??” I found out later that not only can painted turtles hold their breath for an extended period of time but that when they hibernate, their metabolism slows way down to the point where they truly look dead but they are able to absorb and process oxygen from the water through their skin!
Now, I did have one other incident where Turtle gave me a heart attack. I woke up one morning to see this floating in the tank:
Once again, I could not bring myself to look into the tank for fear I’d see a dead turtle. I screamed for my husband, “I’VE DONE IT FOR REAL THIS TIME! TURTLE IS DEAD! I KILLED HIM!” I was perilously close to tears. I thought maybe a big rock or something fell on turtle and crushed his shell somehow off of him. I’m not logical when I’m panicking. My husband comes to scope the situation and just starts laughing at me. He tells me to look in the tank. I’m in denial of course so I’m begging him to just tell me and he’s enjoying my hysterics so he just keeps repeating that I should look in the tank.
There was turtle. Alive and well. I freaked out for nothing. Turns out turtles can shed. When they shed pieces of their shell, they’re called scutes. I guess it’s rare for a turtle to shed a whole scute so I had to grab him and check out his shell and make sure it wasn’t soft because it could be a sign of metabolic bone disease. Turtle was not amused and tried to bite my finger off, which btw, turtle bites hurt!
To end this longer-than-I-thought post, I want to say that Turtle did have an original name. It was MichaelAngela because an old roommate of mine insisted Turtle is a girl but that and “she” is too many syllables so its Turtle and he.