The Big Guys
- Cathy and I have five turtles. Three of them
are males about 8 years old, and the other two are females about 10 years
old. All five turtles are Red-Eared sliders, which means that they have two
big red spots on their heads, one right behind each eye.
I always thought that turtles were really slow, but that's not true.
Tortoises (land turtles) are slow, but turtles (water turtles) move very
quickly, especially when they're scared or hungry. They're also a lot
smarter than I thought reptiles would be. They're always swimming around
and exploring their tank, and they like to watch what's happening outside
their tank. The only problem with them is that they carry the risk of
salmonella, so we have to wash our hands really well after we handle them.
Plus, they swim in their own waste, which is just yucky.
All of the turtles in a huge glass aquarium on our balcony. I believe
that it would hold about 80 gallons if it was full, but it's only halfway
full. The aquarium is split into four sections with wire mesh. Each of
the males has its own section, and the two females share a larger section.
It's easier to keep them separated than to have them fighting all the
time. And cheaper, since the vet bills had become quite expensive.
I made a plastic shelf that runs the length of the tank, and put a big,
flat rock on the shelf in each section. When it's sunny, the turtles
climb on the rocks and sun themselves. There's also wire mesh on top of
the tank so that they can't climb out. It's not really a concern for the
small ones, but the two females would be just about big enough to make it
out without the lid.
There's a really nice filter on the tank, as well as two heaters.
This is like a penthouse suite, if you're a turtle.
- Dong and Paisley are the females, which is one reason why they're so
much bigger than the others. They've gotten so big that
they're hard to hold with one hand. They're maybe
7 inches wide and 9 inches long. They could probably do some serious
damage if they bit someone, but they never try. Dong's the smart one,
Paisley not so much.
- P.J., Amelia, and Whytee are the males. We know this because they
have really long claws on their front legs. They're about four inches in diameter.
- They all have distinct personalities. PJ's afraid of everything.
Whytee's really agressive and tries to bite everything. Luckily, he's
not too smart. Amelia's the smartest. She's learned that fingers
bring food, and yet are not themselves food, so she doesn't try to
bite fingers very often.