Clyde - A Red Ear Slider Turtle (and office mate)
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It was a dark and stormy night...
Well, at least it was a dark and stormy day and for the second time that rainy week my rain gutters were plugged up and needed unplugging. While moving the ladder from place to place I stepped on a rock, or so I thought. After stepping on it a second time I decided to move it. As I brushed the pile of leaves off the buried object I was stunned to find it wasn't a rock. It was a turtle shell. Picking it up and turning it around I was eye to eye with the saddest little face I ever saw. He looked at me, I looked at him and I think it was an "oh crap" moment for both of us. And that's how the Clyde saga began.
I didn't know what to do with him. How he even made it to my yard is still a mystery. My home is many blocks away from the nearest creek and it's a busy neighborhood with lots of cars. The best guess is that some predator grabbed the turtle, tried to eat him and found it impossible, and then let him go. Clyde was missing a toenail and the edges of his shell very uneven and cracked along with some bruising on his underside.
Putting the turtle in a box I was at the pet store 15 minutes later and brought back an aquarium and some turtle food. They had identified him as an aquatic turtle, a red ear slider. From that point on it was a crash course in aquatic turtle care which was an eye opening experience and overwhelming at times.
Aquatic turtles are very entertaining, but take work and commitment. They are very long lived, 30 years or more. They are also very expensive to set up. Plan on spending at least $1,000 for a decent, basic habitat. They require lots of equipment and a fair amount of maintenace. Red Ear Sliders are very hardy turtles but it's up to you to keep them healthy. One little turtle requires the HUGE (yet very effective) water filtration system that you see below the desk. Without a strong filtration system turtle tank maintenance becomes a nightmare. Turtles produce alot of waste and you need to have good water quality to keep them healthy. Aquatic turtles also need submersible heaters, special UV lights, and heat lamps. Expect your electric bill to go up considerably. Once a week I do a partial water change and during this time Clyde goes outside to a small outside container to soak up real sunlight. These turtles need to bask daily to dry out and also get proper light. Without sunlight or a proper inside light that acts like sunlight they will not be able to absorb calcium. This will result in soft shell problems and other health problems.
Next year a bigger tank will be purchased. Until then the "turtle condo" works great. The turtle condo is basically an open bottomed plexi-glass tank that fits on top of the glass aquarium. This way he has full use of his water tank to be able to dive deep and he can also go up the ramp and bask several times a day under his lights up in his "condo". He's very good company for the old Spooky Webmistress of Frightbytes.com. Clyde constantly begs for food but has turned out to be a picky eater, a gourmet. He's so much fun to watch as he swims around. It's been almost a year since he came into my yard and he's grown, his shell has improved, and his toenail has grown back. The last thing I ever dreamed of having was a turtle, and I definitely did not need another pet. But aquatic turtles are fascinating creatures.
This is where all of Frightbytes.com spooky stories are conjured up. It's Halloween here year round.
Clyde finally got his new tank. (pictures below) It will be his forever home. At 130 gallons with great filtration and lots of water movement he's doing great. This tank is perfect for him to deep dive which they all love to do. He has a nice basking station during those times he wants "sunlight" and to warm up. He even has a little buddy that is always at the bottom, of course it's just a stone statue but Clyde does go down to visit often and have a little cuddle. A waterfall feature also helps to create a pond effect. I have now had Clyde for almost 2 years. Having a proper setup for him has made life much easier for me, and better for Clyde. He's still a gourmet eater with his preferred foods being tuna, hotdog, sweet potato, and turkey. Having an aquatic turtle is an ongoing learning experience and a pleasure. These little guys have big personalities but also require big commitment.
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