Tag Archives: turtles

The prodigal turtle…

I was all set to end my blogging hiatus on Friday night, and then our world changed. Briefly. Let me tell you the story…

We have pet turtles (you can read a little about keeping pet turtles here). There names are Franklin (Frankie) and Roosevelt (Rosie). You can’t tell what gender turtles are until they’re a few years old – and, like Swedish parents, we didn’t want to impose gender identities on them – so although they’re female, I sometimes accidentally call them “he,” and that’s pretty interchangeable.

We feed our turtles in a bucket – because their food stinks, and it dramatically cuts down on the amount of time one needs to spend cleaning their tank.

On Friday night, at 2000 (these stories are best recounted in 24 hour time), I put Frankie in the bucket for a feed. I forgot about her. A bit. And at 23:00 I went downstairs. I noticed that our garage door was open… there was a breeze blowing. It was a still night. The moon was full. The scene is now set.

I walked into the man cave – the home of the turtle tank – and the bucket – and reached in to the murky brown bucket to grab Frankie – she’s the bitiest of our turtles – so I was cautious. And the water was stinky. So I didn’t want to keep my hand in the water for too long. But I couldn’t find her.

She had escaped.

Vanished. Like a ninja.

I spent 20 minutes frantically checking every nook, cranny, and sock (a favourite hiding place when they were younger, and free range… It became pretty clear she wasn’t in the house.

These turtles are Robyn’s – they were a birthday present four years ago. She likes them. She was asleep. I had to break the bad news… Frankie was gone. She was outside.

I’d read that if you don’t recover a kidnap victim, or find a missing person, in the first few hours – the prospects aren’t good. I think that was in a Jack Reacher novel. Frankie’s prospects weren’t good.

I grabbed a torch. I spent 2 hours walking around outside checking garden beds, drains, under cars – looking like a creepy prowler. I gave up. I went to bed at 0200.

We had friends coming round for breakfast. I was a little dejected. Frantic. I woke up at 0600. And spent another hour combing the yard looking for our little amphibious friend. A water main had busted up the street – I wondered if we’d find Frankie causing a blockage in the pipe.

But of our turtle there was no sign. I pulled downstairs apart. Turned every stone – and piece of furniture. I spent the day peering out the window, looking for any sign of our turtle – or circling vultures (metaphorically speaking – they were more likely to be myna birds). But alas. There was no sign.

At 1600 I was ready to give up the search. We resolved ourselves to the idea that our little turtle friend was gone. And not coming back.

But still. I stared into the middle distance.

I considered making a lost poster. Maybe a neighbourhood kid had picked her up. It would have looked something like this…

Image (1)

I was doing anything to cling on to hope. We were picturing Frankie eating food, and frolicking in a local creek. Happy. Consoling ourselves with anything we could hang on to.

But we kept staring off into space. Unfocused eyes glancing at the road – in the hope that we’d see our turtle wandering the street. Adventure over. Coming home to comfort.

At about 1700 – the photographer’s golden hour – the sun hovering above the horizon, casting a radiant glow over our suburban street, I looked again.

I shouted. I jumped. A car swerved. Birds swooped – a flock of them. And there. Wandering casually towards a drain, head tucked under her shell to avoid the dive bombing sky-rats, was Frankie. Covered in bark chips after a day spent hiding in a neighbourhood garden. Making her move. For freedom.

Bravely – I ran through the swarm of aerial cane toads – risking neck and eyes (where I imagine myna birds targetting – they are evil) – to save our little turtle.

Frankie is home. The lost is found. She’s now happily hanging out with her turtle buddy. Home. Safe.

We are happy. Elated. Having traversed the kind of emotional roller coaster you might find in the world’s smallest and lamest emotional theme park. We develop all sorts of emotional attachments to pets – and that’s probably healthy. They bring joy, and they are delightful lives created by God. But this gave me a little bit of a taste of the emotions the father in the famous story of the Prodigal Son was feeling as he looked down the road to see his son returning. The lost found.

And that, dear friends, is why there hasn’t been much action here these last few days.

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A beginner’s guide to keeping pet turtles

Somebody, somewhere (I think it was a guy named Andrew, who I think, based on his email address, was a leader on the schoolies camp I went on – how random that he would be reading my blog ten years later) suggested I blog about having pet turtles more often. I think that’s a good idea. Pet turtles really are the coolest thing since pet rocks. And pet rocks were cool.

They do funny stuff. Like this:

Why you should get a turtle

  • They’re exotic, a little left field, and people (especially kids) love them. They love watching them in the water, and the love watching them run around. Turtles have a funny way of running, with in built comedic value.
  • Turtles are relatively low maintenance (eventually).
  • Turtles are amphibious. Amphibians are awesome. So are reptiles. Turtles are both.

What you should know before you buy a turtle

A hatchling

Our turtles at a very young age

  • There’s really no such thing as a penny turtle. You might remember having one as a child. What you had was a baby turtle that you probably grew out of. Our turtles started off the size of 50c pieces. Now they’re somewhere between the size of a bread plate and a dinner plate. They start small, but grow big.
  • There’s a bit of set up cost involved – you need heat lamps, UV lights, docking platforms, and eventually a big tank. If you get two (which we did) there’s a good chance they’ll fight. And you’ll need extra space. Most of our problems have been caused by turtle fights.
  • Get lots of Betadine. Betadine fixes everything. If your turtle has a wound, a fungal infection, a spot – Betadine will fix it.
  • You can’t tell if young turtles are male or female. It’s a gender lottery.
  • In some (many) Australian states you need a reptile license. You get these from the EPA in Queensland (or whatever they’re now called).
  • Turtles bite. But only really in the water.
  • If in doubt – take them out of the water – they only need to be in the water about an hour a day. They like being in the water. But sometimes their shells need time to dry out. For a long time ours slept in a box, wrapped in towels.
  • The internet is your friend. There are heaps of good turtle resources online. I even bought ours on the internet and had them flown up to Townsville from Brisbane. When I was worried about one of them I turned to the internet for help. One of our turtles, Rosie (short for Roosevelt) was a little more sickly than the other, Frankie (short for Franklin) perhaps because Frankie used to bite her around the neck and take her for a death roll.
  • Get a bucket to feed your turtle in. Turtle food stinks. And feeding them in their tank is a recipe for an incredibly stinky weekly clean up job.

Steps to getting your pet turtle

  1. Check licensing requirements where you live. Organise this first.
  2. Find a breeder – normally there’s enough time between contacting a breeder and getting the turtles to complete the next step.
  3. Set up the tank – you’ll need a dock of some sort (a rocky platform will do), a UV lamp to keep the shells healthy, and a heat lamp to keep their blood warm. A heater in the water is optional. They’ll get on their docks more if the water is cold (this is good for their shells too). You need to set up a tank a week before you put the turtle in it to get the chemical stuff happening properly. Apparently.
  4. Get some food – we use pellets and frozen turtle cubes (fish guts). We’ve tried with some cereal based pellets and they hate them. We also occasionally give them fruit and veggies. Which they seem to like. We put feeder fish in their tank, about 100 at a time. And they gradually disappear. But if you want some fun – kill one and hand feed it to the turtles and watch them go nuts trying to catch more.
  5. Get your turtles. Watch them swim. Enjoy some LOLs.
  6. Check your turtles regularly (especially when they’re young) for little blotchy spots on their shells and skin. These are bad – and should be treated pretty much straight away. Keeping them out of the water a bit will help.
  7. Take them for walks outside (but watch for birds). The sun is good for them.
  8. Wash your hands after touching them when they’re little. Turtles carry salmonella. And trust me. You don’t want that. Buy some of that reptile wash. Trust me. A week of gastro isn’t fun for anybody. They grow out of this after a while – I’m not sure at what point – but I don’t wash my hands anymore.

Some links

Status update

I’ve been sick all week with something a bit gastro like. I won’t overshare. This is more to explain the number of posts you’ll be getting today – there’s not much else to do when you’re sitting on the couch. I tried going back to work yesterday, lets just say lunch didn’t work out so well.

The turtles are copping a little bit of the blame because my symptoms look a bit like Salmonella, and turtles are known to carry that bacteria.

I’m thankful that it’s school holidays so Robyn is here to keep me company.

I feel pretty ok, except when:

a) I stand up.
b) I eat.
c) I haven’t taken any anti nausea medication.

That is all.

Franky does acrobatics

Turtles are the best pets. They’re funny. Clean. And they do cool stuff. Like this. Most of the fun finishes about halfway into this video. But it’s only 48 seconds.

YouTube Tuesday: Teenage Mutant Cyborg Turtle

Ninja Turtles have all the fun.

I’ve been tracking the story of Simone and her frisky dog. If you haven’t been – then you should. She took him to the vet the other day. The same day we sent our little Rosie to the vet for the first time. I’d never sent an animal to the vet before, but I think it was the most expensive five minutes of my life – and I wasn’t there. We sent her with my in-laws.

The vet told them that we’d already cured said turtle of her fungal infection by the power of betadine. Hooray for us. And then he charged us $50.

This little turtle had significantly greater problems… he lost his legs, so they replaced them with little plastic bits that slide along the floor.

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No dogs go to heaven

The first movie I ever saw on a cinema screen was All Dogs Go To Heaven. It was in the little cinema in Grafton, 40 minutes from our home town in Maclean. It’s a Disney cartoon with really bad theology. There’s no Biblical reason to expect your pet to be in heaven with you (except perhaps for the Biblical illustration of lions lying down with lambs… but I’d say that’s more an allusion…).

Even the atheists know this. In fact. In the same vein as the service that sends post cards to your unsaved loved ones post rapture comes a new service offering to care for your pets.

We are a group of dedicated animal lovers, and atheists. Each
Eternal Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you’ve received your reward. Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus.

For those who doubted – this is proof that atheists can be moral people after all.

Which is sweet. We’ll have two very appreciative turtles – which is lucky – because apparently turtles are impervious to fire.

Teenage Mutant Siamese Turtles

I’ve seen a few pictures floating around the interwebs of this siamese turtle…

It looked like a photoshop job. So I googled it. And it’s not.

It’s rare, but thanks to the Internet – all too common.

A pet shop even purchased a siamese turtle a couple of years ago to keep on display – and there’s this YouTube video too…

Lucky nobody gave them a set of nun chucks and a bo staff – that would have been majorly problematic to synchronise.

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Why I didn’t blog much over the weekend

  1. I organised the Willows Presbyterian Church Calvin 500 Conference.
  2. I spoke at said conference about Calvin v Servetus
  3. I organised the dinner part of said conference (and made coffee) where Mike Raiter talked about the New Calvinism.
  4. I attended the Townsville 400 V8 Supercar Event
  5. When I wasn’t doing those things I was cleaning out my big fish tank after a mishap with the filtration killed three of my pet fish and endangered the life of a pet turtle.
  6. I was telling the national director of MTS why I like MTS but don’t think it’s for me.
  7. Or I was watching The Ashes and Robyn was using the laptop.

YouTube Toosday: Real Life Ninja Turtle

Real life ninja turtles are popping up all over the internet. The latest is this ninja who purposefully got himself caught by a fishing family – just so he could teach them a lesson.

Ninja turtle

One of our pet turtles has a severe case of ninjavitis. He thinks he’s a ninja. I won’t show him this photo…

Found here.