My Pet Turtle - Part 1 / by Evan Perry

Sometimes you just got to let your turtle out. Know what I'm sayin'?

Hello Friends!

Here's something unique about me: I own a red-eared slider (or Trachemys scripta elegans). It resides in my room at my apartment and perhaps I'll invite you over so you can see it someday . . . 

Anyway, I came to own a turtle about 7 or 8 years ago (I honestly don't remember). I was visiting an ex girlfriend's house during college and she and her sister had a shallow 10 gallon tank with two sliders: Sandy and Flip. They had obtained the turtles illegally at Hampton Beach in New Hampshire at some point. I say illegally because you are not allowed to purchase turtles with a shell that is less than 4 inches in diameter due to the risk of contracting Salmonella poisoning among other things. They were tiny things and very cute. Unfortunately, Flip lived up to his name and died soon after. Sandy was the sister's turtle, so it became her responsibility to care for it, but she didn't have time. Turtles take considerably more time to care for than you would think between cleaning, changing water, and so forth. Eventually the tank went dirty for long periods of time and I felt terrible for the poor little thing. So I offered to take the turtle for myself.

I remember my ex and I gathering the tank and the filter and the little rock that was in the tank and setting it back up in my room. The happy little turtle!

I've had her ever since, but not without a few difficulties here or there. For instance, during the great ice storm of 2008, the house lost power and heat for 3 days and the turtle's water needs to be, optimally, between 76 and 85 degrees or so. I had to use the grill outside in the cold to heat water for the turtle to keep it at least 60-something degrees while the temperature in the house was dipping into the 40's. Hard times!

The years I've been a turtle owner have been fantastic and I hope to keep them going. Apparently the things can live to about 30 years or so and in some cases much longer. In future installments, I will discuss what it's like to own a turtle and the adventures I've had raising Sandy.