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Herbie’s still sputtering…

Right now, just making sure I don’t kill him is consuming a lot of time I should be spending keeping house.  There’s tons of stuff on mature sliders that contain warnings about hatchlings being illegal and their extremely high mortality rate as pets, but very little about how to keep a hatchling alive after your dumb ass buys one. I was online for hours last night because I didn’t think he’d really eaten since Thursday or Friday.  Sliders are supposed to be pigs, so I was really worried I was going to wake up to a dead turtle if I couldn’t get him to eat soon. On top of that, he wasn’t really basking.  He was just hovering in the shallow water of his reservoir most of the time, and seemed terribly lethargic in the deeper water. I had to sat Tyler and Halle down and explain, in terms they could understand, that turtles as small as Herbie are usually so sick they die within a few months. After realizing how very young he must be, I thought maybe he’s too young to feed in deep water.  So I tried feeding him both pellets and cucumber in a plastic container, but not a nibble.  So I threw in some whale krill that came in the turtle kit and is supposed to be an occasional treat for adult turtles.  No interest.  Eventually I piece together that a) it’s common for sliders to stop eating and have decreased activity for a couple days under stressful conditions (like moving to a new habitat or having a {well intentioned} giant hovering over your habitat) and b) hatchlings generally eat only animal protein and c) they may need to actually be in water to swallow.  So I threw some whale krill in some shallow water in his basking area, put him back in his tank, and walked away for a while.  When I checked on him later, he was tearing into it like nobody’s business.  This morning he was basking, and is swimming a lot more, and he’s actively swimming, rather than looking like he’s barely treading water. 

So to answer Ei’s question about his maintenance… Once he’s acclimated and healthy, he’ll require daily feedings through the hatchling and juvenile stage; as an adult will need to be fed every 2/3 days.  That’s not so bad, but he can’t live on ‘turtle food’ unless I want him to have a short life span.  I’ve learned that hatchlings are primarily carnivorous (which explains why he wasn’t eating the turtle pellets), but as an adult at least 50% of his diet should be vegetation, with animal protein and commercial food making up no more than 25% each.  I guess I’ll be saving salad and veggie scraps. The maintenance factor for his habitat is pretty high if I do the bare minimum as far as housing him goes, and has an inverse relationship to how extensive or elaborate of a habitat I create for him.  Right now he’s in a glass tank with a small filter.  I’ll probably need to change the water every 1-2 weeks… but if I feed him in another container and just replace part of the water on a weekly basis, I could keep his tank clean enough to only require monthly water changes.  However, the bigger he gets the messier he’ll be.  Unless I want to be draining a very, very big aquarium on a frequent basis, I’ll need to invest in some powerful filtration equipment.  If I keep him indoors, that is.

I’m assuming that the Phoenix Zoo doesn’t heat that whole pond, and I’ve read there are a few parks in LA that have thriving wild slider populations that have resulted from illegal dumping of unwanted pets.  So even though these turtles are ‘natives’ of the southeast, it appears that red-eared sliders can thrive in ‘semi captivity’ in Arizona.  I’ve read a couple articles on creating outdoor habitats, and so far it seems that pond structures are considerably cheaper than aquariums and because they are softer, they’re actually better for a turtle than glass.  It looks like I could create an almost completely natural outdoor pond for considerably less and it wouldn’t be any more complicated than setting up a large aquarium, and once set up, would almost maintain itself.  With just a basic pond pump and some water plants, I would almost never need to change the water.  Having the pond outdoors would eliminate the need for any special lamps, and possibly not even require a submersible water heater.   I know that sounds like an awfully big project, but (assuming he lives and we want to keep him, which we may not have any other option, the few turtle rescues can’t keep up with the demand to rehome unwanted turtles) I think it might be the least expensive and lowest maintenance option, not to mention the most ideal habitat.  And not having a 40 to 100 gallon tank in my house would just be icing on the cake.  There is actually one section of yard on the side of my house that I have no idea what to do with… and one of my living room windows overlooks it, so I want to do something out there.  It’s not big enough for one of those jacaranda’s I love, and because of the way the property is graded for water run off (snort, snicker) I couldn’t put a flower or vegetable garden there… it’s even questionable whether I could grow pretty grass there.  It is, however, definitely big enough for either an above ground or sunken turtle pond.  The house and block wall would create three of four walls, and I could easily completely enclose it with one section of fencing to protect Herbie and Reggie/Ramie from each other. 

 via Herbie’s still sputtering… – CURLYGURL’s MySpace Blog | Cyndi–s Jewels.

  1. April 9, 2010 at 9:26 PM

    Wow, you were really going to build a pond for Herbie? I think I remember this post.

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