Yes, it’s that time now. It’s time for you to meet the Writer’s Pets! Usually, this is a section reserved either for adorable cat antics, or for goofy dog tongue-hanging-out pictures. But you get to meet the Shelled Ones.
Darwin, my Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) is my first ever turtle, and my first ever reptile pet. Darwin was a Craigslist “rescue” in need of a bigger tank, proper lighting and heat, and some serious change in diet.
Darwin is easily the most interesting pet I’ve ever had. For one, he is a serious and fearless basker. He takes his sunning time beneath the UVB heat lamp with all of the grace and aplomb of a tanned sun worshipper. I should’ve named him George Hamilton. Where most turtles will leap off the basking dock in fear of even their keeper, Darwin will stare at me, stick out his neck toward me, and let me touch noses with him through the glass. He greets me with enthusiastic splashing, has learned to attract my attention for food by slamming his shell loudly and repeatedly into the outflow of his filter (he stops when he sees me walking his way, and if I leave again, he’ll start it up once more), and turns into an angry, ravening beast whenever I pick him up for routine tank cleaning.
Dante, my Ornate Box Turtle (Terepene ornata ornata) is certainly a character. Dante is my second turtle, and was my own personal quest to save a seriously ill critter. He was kept on a substrate which is toxic to box turtles, severely dehydrated, with sick, puffy eyes, and seriously underweight, I couldn’t help but leap into action to save him. According to his previously family, Dante had been with them for 10 years, on the same toxic substrate, with little water, and the worst diet ever.
Our initial time together was not pleasant, which probably why he still occasionally gives me the red-eyed stare of irritated wariness. A couple of vet trips to my Exotics Vet, two sessions with the vet’s Dremmel to wear down his overgrown beak, one sudden beak shattering, and me having to push food into his mouth so he would eat and…after a year he’s now in terrific health.
Poe, my Concentric Northern Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin terrapin) is my purebred puppy and ridiculous kitten all rolled into one. I allowed myself to buy Poe from a breeder, and I received the little one as a quarter-sized, stunningly beautiful hatchling. I’m still unsure if Poe is a male or female, but either way his enthusiastic, insanely curious nature has me in love with him, umm or her. There is literally no stone in his tank that he’s left unturned, and he’ll sniff at practically everything with the intensity of a bloodhound. With his wriggly nature, I’ve had to redecorate his home more than once, both to give the growing boy (or girl) more room, and to keep him from getting stuck, like the kitten with its head in a can. He even begs with splashy, puppy-like insanity. Long story short, Poe is the cutest tortuga ever.
I hope you’ve had fun meeting my Shelled Ones!