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Hrm. [Jun. 13th, 2010|01:31 pm]
Lauren or Lou, as you like.
[Current Mood |confusedPerplexed.]

So we have a (temporary) houseguest.

It is a turtle.

He swam into my backyard (...they over-water, at these places) from under a neighbor's fence, and he doesn't belong to that neighbor. Or the neighbor on the other side, or to anyone the manager of our complex knows of, or to the neighbor beyond the neighbor on the other side, or to the man I yelled to from my upstairs window who was in the yard of the house behind the neighbor whose fence he swam under, or the other people who answered their doors when I knocked. (This turtle is helping to socialize me.) My bets are currently on the people behind *our* place, whose fence overlaps a little with next door, and who frequently neglect animals in their backyard, but I haven't seen them out to call down and I'm not sure from the street which house is theirs. And I'm not sure I want to go hand it to them if they don't call and ask, considering how poorly everything else I've seen back there tends to look.

So I've posted on Craigslist and put up a few signs on the blocks of mailboxes for our complex and for the street behind, and we're hoping. And in the meantime, one of my neighbors very sweetly let me borrow an aquarium tank, and after some research I'm doing what meagre I can to make him a little basking dock considering I have no driftwood and no large rocks, though so far he's a little too freaked out to come out of the water onto it. He's in a warm room.

Spinach and cherries is what I have that I can think of to feed him, so far.

Of all the myriad critters I have impromptu cared for before or had in the menagerie we called our house growing up, I have never, ever had a turtle. Or known anyone who had a turtle.

Sooo. Anyone know some home-grown temporary care tips for a Red-Eared Slider Turtle?

[User Picture]From: piss_and_ink
2010-06-13 09:06 pm (UTC)
I had red-ears back when I was growing up, years and years of red-ears. Make sure the turtle always has the option of being either in water or on land, like a rock or something. And... that's all I can think of. Have fun!
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[User Picture]From: blindswandive
2010-06-13 10:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I've had trouble building him a platform, but now I'm trying sculpey, so hopefully that'll work. He keeps propping his head on the brick I've got angled in there, but not climbing onto it, so maybe a better ramp up will help. :)
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[User Picture]From: piss_and_ink
2010-06-13 10:56 pm (UTC)
Go outside, find a rock. Then wash the rock off, and put it in whatever you're using as a tank, so it's half under water but half out. The turtle would swim up to it, if it wanted to get up.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-06-13 09:14 pm (UTC)

c. towns says-

Remember Joey from President and Fleming? He had turtles at one time. Know you've known someone with turtles.

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[User Picture]From: blindswandive
2010-06-13 10:47 pm (UTC)

Re: c. towns says-

I stand corrected!

How is Joey, do you know?
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-06-14 06:27 pm (UTC)

Re: c. towns says-

ugh... i don't know. haven't spoken to him in a while.
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[User Picture]From: lionille
2010-06-13 09:16 pm (UTC)
eeee! How exciting!

You can buy turtle food, I think it was called Reptomin, but it's been a few years. Came in a yellow container like fish food. Beyond that, I don't remember what all they're supposed to have/not have, so maybe call a reputable pet store that sells turtles?

Wash thoroughly after handling.

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[User Picture]From: blindswandive
2010-06-13 11:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, yay! I saw some Reptomin at the Target and grabbed it, I'm glad to hear that's what I needed!! And bless your heart for all this info, it DEFINITELY helps. Spinach and cherries are now removed (he'd pulled them into the water, so now I know why!), and I happened to still have some anacharis/elodia growing in a vase, so I gave him a little of that and some floating pellets and we'll see if he eats any of it, he may still be too spooked.

For a minute I got hopeful when I saw they liked snails, so I'm glad there was that handy NO SLUGS OR GARDEN SNAILS warning. I was about to go foraging for him in my decimated strawberries. -_-

Oi, I remembered the salmonella worry and I've been very careful about washing. I don't particularly want any food poisoning! And I got the feeling those little claws might be sharp, so I've been careful when he scrabbled the couple times I was moving him. Whew. He's got a warm window since I don't have a heater for the tank, and that should keep his water warm enough, and, and.. and I can hopefully keep him okay long enough for his people to get in touch with me. ::fingers crossed::
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[User Picture]From: lionille
2010-06-13 11:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, yay, you got the Reptomin! See, you didn't even need me.
Reading your above comment... I wouldn't put Sculpey in the water, it sounds... like it might put stuff in the water? I agree with piss_and_ink up there, find a nice rock. They sell nice curvy pretty ones at the fish stores. (don't get shells or coral or salt water stuff though, it adds salt to the water, and they need fresh water.) My turtle rarely left the water anyway, IIRC, though he did occasionally park on abovewater parts of his rock to rest. (little back flippers fanned out backwards, so cute!) I never used a heater, either, and he was fine, so. Getting daylight is fine, but direct sun might be too much. Now I'm just babbling like a lunatic, I'm sure you're doing fine. Turtle! I can't wait to hear what you name him.
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[User Picture]From: blindswandive
2010-06-14 03:21 am (UTC)
I made sure to check about the Sculpey, it won't leech anything into the water--you don't want to eat out of it because it's porous, but it's basically PVC, which is what a lot of tank decorations are made out of. Unfortunately, I failed to make something that would actually work, so I'm not going to have to worry about it. :)

I actually have no big rocks anywhere near here. :\ That was what I wanted, or driftwood or something, but there's just nothing. I've scoured the place. I had a step-stone kind of brick and was able to wash it and tilt it into the water by propping it over a small ceramic bowl, and he is laying his head on it and fanning out, but he hasn't gotten all the way up on top of it that I've seen, which is why I was trying to find a way to round it out, in case he was having trouble getting up there. He seems pretty freaked when I get anywhere near and ducks under water and hides. :(

Ooh, good thought about the direct sun.. I was so worried about him being cold, but I should keep an eye on that.

At the moment, I'm still thinking in terms of temporary, so I'm trying to avoid much outlay. :\ I'm not sure how well I'd be able to keep a turtle, with the cats, since they're.. er.. very curious. And have very long arms. (right now I'm having to keep him in a closed room.) But if I don't hear from his/her person in the next few days, we'll see then about finding a safe place and see what we can do about a better dock. It's a borrowed tank, too, so I'm not sure what to do. :\
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[User Picture]From: lionille
2010-06-14 02:33 pm (UTC)
Awww... poor little shy turtle! I'm sure he will calm down and tame up nicely. How big is this critter, Swanny? When I first got my turtle he was about the size of a quarter, LOL, and he grew to be quite, quite large and hefty. In fact, he grew so large I had to build him a little outdoor pen so he could get sunshine and exercise, because I was planning on releasing him into a lake (he wasn't a red eared slider, though he looked exactly like that only without the red, but he was a local species so it would have been OK to let him go, I checked into it... ANYWAY....) he escaped, apparently through climbing the chicken wire, because it wasn't through digging. I don't know what happened to him, I like to hope someone found him and took him to some body of water somewhere. I had him so many years...*wanders off down memory lane*

I did not know that about the Sculpey, cool!

I'm sorry I can't send you a rock, but I'm guessing shipping would be rather substantial, ROFL!

Shipping clerk: Jeeze, lady, what do you have in here? A rock?

Have fun with your turtle! I hope there will be pictures sometime, after he's less spooked, of course.

I don't know what to tell you about the cats, I guess that depends on the individual kitty and how strong their prey drive is. We had three cats who never bothered my small pets, (one was best buds with my dwarf rabbit) but we did have one who was a true Hunter of Game. He nabbed a hamster and a mouse over his career. Fluffadorable is also very huntery, but I'm not planning on any more cage or tank pets. And I'm suddenly remembering that I did have a metal mesh lid over the turtle tank for his protection from cats when not supervised. Weighted down with a rock, maybe, too. (wow, turtle farming calls for a lot of rocks, doesn't it, lol!)

Because I am feeling gabby this morning, may I tell you about the cat and the rabbit who were best buds? They had this game: the cat would hide in a box turned on the side, right? And the rabbit would run in circles around the box. And whenever the rabbit passed the opening of the box, the cat would reach out and swat around wildy and try to tag the rabbit. (claws safely retracted) This amused both of them for hours. Good times. :)

Edited at 2010-06-14 02:35 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: blindswandive
2010-06-14 06:31 pm (UTC)
Well someone responded to my craigslist posting saying if I was anywhere near the park, he had probably wandered over from there, so he may actually be a sort of.. er.. wild slider? (I am near the park, but there's a really, really big street between there and here, and I can't imagine him walking across.) I have no idea whether I should just take him to the park or not, if I don't find an owner! (I'm wondering if maybe the Irresponsible Pet People would have just snatched him from the park and dropped him in their yard. Hrm..)

He's much bigger than a quarter, about.. let's see, 4 inches across and six inches long at the shell (obviously longer with head and tail out!). It's actually illegal to sell a turtle smaller than 4" in California (salmonella terror - apparently little kids were putting any turtle smaller than that in their mouths...???) so that does suggest he might be from the pet store, he's only a little bigger than they sell them there, and I'm sure I've seen this kind there. That's part of why it's been hard to set him up, I want him to have deep enough water to swim a little and it's hard to get a high enough spot to come up from that and also be big enough for him to sit on.

And thank you, about the rock! It's so weird to me I can't find any like I want. o_O I kept thinking that if I was at my mother's there'd be just a hunk of rock or wood right there that would be easy to use, but no dice here.

I was planning on no more tank pets, after my two little fish had such a horrible brief run. I really don't know how prey-driven these guys are.. they certainly go mad about bugs and occasionally beat the crap out of mouse and bird toys, but they've had so little contact with other live animals it's hard to tell. :\ I know Arthur was really interested when the turtle was scrabbling at the bucket I'd plopped him into from the yard, and there's no lid for this borrowed tank. If I move him downstairs into a higher up place, they shouldn't be able to get in, but it's pretty far from any windows and I don't know if he'd like so little light (he was basking in a mud puddle when I found him :) ). But it might be worth trying out, and I wouldn't have to worry about roasting him with direct sun, then. And maybe he'd get a little more used to seeing people around.

Thank you again SO MUCH for the links and personal insight on these things, turtles are absolutely Greek to me. We had a couple tortoises (also illegal here, whoops!) growing up, but that's pretty different! They can just hang out in the back yard and eat veggies! (Although also prone to escape - one of them--Touché --did tunnel to freedom one year and we were never sure where she wound up!)

And THANK YOU for telling me about the cat and the rabbit!! <3 That is one of the cutest things ever ever ever. What were their names?
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[User Picture]From: lionille
2010-06-14 06:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, you had tortoises! How cool... those are such amazing little guys! I've seen them sometimes in the pet store, little golden boxes of adorableness. Heh.

Are these red eared sliders wild from where you are? Well, there you go, maybe just release him? He'd be fine. I'm sure he'd make a great pet for you, too, either way he sounds like he's got it made. :) You will have to find a tank and a lid, but those aren't *too* terribly expensive. To be honest, the tank water is really a lot of work to keep clean, I didn't have any kind of filtration system so it was a lot of 'bail and pail', I used to have to sipon the old water into a bucket and refill the tank with gallon jugs. A lot of work. And they do grow. I guess you could always raise him a while until he's bigger and *then* let him go. (but by then you're in love)(but if I know you, you're already in love) :)

turtles are absolutely Greek to me

Ha! This would be a good temptation to give him a Greek name!

Ah, the cat and the rabbit. :) The cat was a black and white tuxedo kitty named Middy. She was very maternal and gentle with everything and everybody. She brought me a baby field mouse she found in a vacant field once. The rabbit's name was Fiver, he was a lovely soft grey with darker grey ears that were very small and adorable. And the field mouse was named Nutmeg. :)

Editing to add: I guess I should mention the name of my dear turtle somewhere on this thread! His name was Juniper, but I called him "Junebug" a lot, though not the most masculine of nicknames. If I recall, if the underside of the turtle's shell is slightly concave, it's a male, and if it's flat it's a female? I think that's what I read. Ah, I hope he and your lovely Touche did well for themselves.

Edited at 2010-06-14 07:06 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: blindswandive
2010-06-16 12:42 am (UTC)
Yes, I'm hoping Touché and Junebug rocked out the wandering turtle business! And those are all wonderful names. <3 Junebug and Nutmeg especially I love.

I don't think red eared sliders are native here, but there's a population of turtles at a lot of the manmade lakes here. I'm afraid a lot of it's probably people dumping pets they don't want anymore, and if that's what's going on, I don't want to add to that. :( But I really don't know. Maybe I could check with the city somehow to see if they introduced the fish and turtles or if they have come in on their own.

As for falling in love... I've never really planned on having a turtle, and Chris was pretty stridently turtle-resistant, so I've been trying really hard to keep myself on a sort of professional level with him (especially since he might have an owner I'll have to give him back to!), but it seems like as soon as I brought him down and put him on the counter where we're seeing him all the time, we're *both* getting attached anyway. Now Chris keeps leaning in and saying "Turtle turtle turtle!" (which is indescribably cute) and then giving me a confused face with, "We've got a turtle now, don't we? We're going to have a turtle." So I think if nobody claims him we may have a turtle. ;) The love is creeping in. He is *very* cute, and is getting less afraid, and I'm pretty fascinated by him and his kind--kind of primordial, like crocs and alligators--practically still dinosaurs, which is so amazing to me. (...I'm kinda' googling like crazy, now, and it's pretty fun.)

Which reminds me: he's definitely male! I was looking it up, and apparently in this species in addition to the shell you can tell by the tail (males' are about as long as their legs and females' are much daintier) and by the foreclaws--only males have really long foreclaws, instead of even stubby ones. So he's a boy!!

Ooh, a Greek name might be a good idea... I keep thinking of fairly grand old-fashioned names like Rupert and Ferdinand, but I might be able to go really, really old fashioned...

Hmm. If I do wind up with him, I'll have to see about the bigger tank and a proper dock/basking spot, and I might break down for a filter, because his water is really murky even after a couple of days, even though I changed out about half of it. I'm not looking forward to that sort of thing, but.. y'know, I'd get used to it. We clean litter boxes all the time, so I could get used to cleaning a tank again.

Though.. my best gal pal has a little pond in her backyard with fish in it, and if I could convince her to shake some turtle food in there every few days or let me throw in some guppies and turtle-safe water plants to colonize or such, she might be willing to have a new pond-pet, and then we could visit him and he'd have a pretty nice outdoorsy kind of life. In any case, we figure we'll wait a week before we make any kind of serious decision, but then, who knows?
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[User Picture]From: lionille
2010-06-17 12:08 am (UTC)
Do keep me posted on all the continuing Turtle News, Swanny, it's so exciting when a new animal's in the house! (and on the flist) :D

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[User Picture]From: blindswandive
2010-06-17 08:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I will!!

Actually, I've been itching to tell you...

Night before last he did what is possibly the silliest thing I have ever seen any animal do, including my goofy cats. I came down and looked at the tank and just found a floating shell with a bunch of legs and tail sticking out all over, and no head.

The turtle was playing headless horseman.

I was terrified he was dead and rapped on the glass (I could never have children, a baby'd finally fall asleep and not move and I'd wake it right back up to make sure it was still breathing and no one would ever sleep again) and he whipped his tail around, so I calmed down, but then it was just.. 'So we're playing The Flying Dutchman?' I tried to get pictures, but I'm not sure any of them do it justice. I have never seen something so silly. I am absolutely charmed. I am overwhelmed with the cuteness. He was like a cartoon.

Turtles seem so dignified, and then for him to just.. ::oh, flails!::

He definitely likes spooking me, though. I didn't know they could sleep underwater for so long. ...Or that sometimes they shed and peel their skin. "Oh no he drowned!! Oh no, he's rotting away without sunlight!!!!" "...Oh, they just.. do that..? Okay. -_-"
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[User Picture]From: lionille
2010-06-18 01:02 am (UTC)
ROFL! He sounds like a character!

(I could never have children, a baby'd finally fall asleep and not move and I'd wake it right back up to make sure it was still breathing and no one would ever sleep again)

*cough* I'm embarrassed to tell you of the number of times I've woken up a heavily sleeping dog.
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[User Picture]From: blindswandive
2010-06-21 01:02 am (UTC)
::hugs:: I'm so glad I'm not alone!!
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[User Picture]From: blindswandive
2010-06-17 08:16 pm (UTC)
Er, to clarify.. I've seen him suck all the way into his shell, seen him withdraw everything partway, seen him just pull in a couple of legs, but that was the first time it was just his head completely absorbed inside and everything else fully extended. "OooooOOOOOo, I'm spoooooooky! WoooooOOOOOooo, Ichabod, run away!!"

(I mean, it was probably just "turn off that little light, I'm sleeping and I want it dark" but still!)
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[User Picture]From: lionille
2010-06-13 09:19 pm (UTC)
Quick internet search, since I know you're supposed to be resting your hands:


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[User Picture]From: lionille
2010-06-13 09:21 pm (UTC)
And another:


Sounds like spinach might cause some, er, digestive complications. Same with fruit. Although other sites are all 'yay, fruit', so who knows. Another listed these:
Collard greens
Mustard greens
Carrots (shredded root and top)
Green beans
Sweet potatoes
Apples (shredded)
Plums, peaches, nectarines (NO PITS)

Edited at 2010-06-13 09:24 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: lionille
2010-06-13 09:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, also they apparently only eat in the water. Wiki weighs in, with a warning about not to feed cat or dog food, while other sites say the occasional bit of dog food is OK. (I know tadpoles love Meow Mix!) Yay contradictory advice! This is why I don't keep exotics. If you keep him, I advise the Reptomin, and also a source of calcium. Anyway, Wiki:

Red-eared sliders are omnivores and eat a variety of animal and plant materials in the wild including, but not limited to fish, crayfish, carrion, tadpoles, snails, crickets, wax worms, aquatic insects and numerous aquatic plant species. The captive diet for pet red-eared sliders should be a varied diet consisting of invertebrates such as worms, aquatic and land plants, and other natural foods. They should never be fed commercial dog food or cat food. Commercial turtle foods can be used sparingly and should not be used as the primary food.[5] Calcium (for shell health) can be supplemented by adding pieces of cuttlebone to the diet, or with commercially available vitamin supplements. A nutritious food readily accepted by young turtles is baby clams soaked in krill oil covered with powdered coral calcium. Younger turtles tend to be more carnivorous (eat more animal protein) than adults do. As they grow larger and older, they become increasingly herbivorous. Live foods are particularly enjoyed and add to the quality of life of captive turtles. Providing a wide variety of foods is the key to success with captive red-eared sliders.[6]

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[User Picture]From: lionille
2010-06-13 09:31 pm (UTC)
A nutritious food readily accepted by young turtles is baby clams soaked in krill oil covered with powdered coral calcium.

Pffffffft! Right. Because krill oil and powdered coral calcium is so easy to come by!
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[User Picture]From: lionille
2010-06-13 09:36 pm (UTC)
One more! This looks like a comprehensive site...


And one more warning, to mind the claws. Anyway, have fun, I had a turtle once for many years and loved him dearly.
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