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Turtles Are Tricky

By Amy Fleck |

I know you wouldn’t think so, but caring for and understanding turtles is pretty tricky.  And, just to clarify, I’m talking about pet turtles and tortoises.  (I know they are not really the same thing, but just think of them as fraternal twins, they’re the same, but different).  Anyhoo, I thought I would share some turtle information with you in hopes you will refer to it before you purchase, adopt, kidnap or steal a turtle for your own.

My turtle experience really did not end well.  For the turtle.  Probably not that well for my mother either*.  Long story short, a few years back we finally gave in a purchased a much-desired turtle for the kids.  Said turtle also required the purchase of an aquarium, assorted sizes of turtle swimming pools/water dishes, shredded barky bedding and a half-log about 8″ long for the turtle to use as it’s house.  Turtle #1 (yes, there was more than one) was the kind that eats live crickets.  (I really don’t know how a turtle is supposed to catch a cricket, but I didn’t make the rules).  Turtle #1 pooped a ton on the way home, never ate very much and spent a lot of time in its water bowl trying to drown itself.  Turtle #1 died about 37 seconds after the return warranty expired.  After further research, I believe the turtle was sick when we got it. (I refer to the turtle as “it” because the people at Pet Smart informed me you can’t tell what sex a turtle is.  This is probably up for debate).

Turtle #2 was far more hearty and was the kind that eats lettuce and fruit (no thank you to more live crickets).  #2 never slept in the log house though.  It used the log to try to kill itself.  It would climb up onto the log and then walk waaaaayyyyy over the edge and hang over until it fell on its head and flipped onto its back.  It would then spend a good bit of time getting back upright and then it would start over.  After a few months, a friend wanted to know how much it cost to buy a turtle and all its accoutrements.  Before she had finished her sentence, Turtle #2 and all its stuff was at her front door, free of charge.

Final Turtle Information You Should Know

Turtles will not come to you when you put them on the floor and call their names.

It is really gross and complicated to try to get crickets out of a plastic bag and into a turtle aquarium.

Turtles are not very smart. (see previous comments regarding falls on head and self-drowning).

Turtles sometimes poop in their water bowl and then drink that water.

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Turtles and tortoises as pets

Chillaxing Turtle

No matter what time of day, this likely what your turtle will be doing. Nothing.

*photo credit to stock.xchng

*Almost Forgot!  Turtle #1′s demise was a problem for my mother because when it died it was too cold outside to bury it, so I put it in a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer until we were able to dig a hole.  My mother, while visiting, opened the freezer and pulled out what she thought to be a frozen bagel.  She’s still a little bit mad.

You can read more by Amy at her blog Donkeys To College.  In between posts you can come join the fun on Facebook and Twitter.

Recent posts by Amy:

You Should Be Able To Tell The Difference

And Now How Will I Make A Lot Of Money

Less is More, Except When It’s Not

They Have Microclimates, So Wear Layers



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About Amy Fleck


Amy Fleck

Amy Fleck writes the blog Donkeys To College, which is followed in the United States and abroad by tens of people. She is a stay-at-home mom to 2 teenagers and has been married for 20 years, but still maintains her sunny disposition.

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3 thoughts on “Turtles Are Tricky

  1. Mike Mueller says:

    Thanks Amy! I was going to buy a turtle to protect my dogs, but now that I’ve read your article I will probably just let the dogs protect themselves.

    1. Amy Fleck says:

      Unless your dogs are being attacked by crickets, that is probably a good choice. :)

  2. Amy says:

    And contrary to popular kid knowledge, hibernation does not mean toroises sleep for 6 months so you don’t have to feed or water them. ‘Learned that the hard way, may he rest in peace.

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