Saturday, June 23, 2007

Squirtle's Story

A week ago Jay found an unusual turtle/tortoise in our yard. We weren't sure what it was and even taking it to Petco wasn't helpful. I emailed herpetilogical societies,etc. and meanwhile we treated "him" like a tortoise. We made it a home and fed it vegetarian fare. Squirtle loves bananas! After reading all the literature we knew it was important to know the exact species because a tortoise or turtle will die if its habitat or diet is incorrect. Treated well, they live 50 years.

Elijah named "him" and we enjoyed watching "him." I set it in the sun during the day and gave it a soak for good hygiene. LOL Eventually I learned that Squirtle is an ornate box turtle, a terrestrial little guy who is a carnivore. Its natural habitat is the prairie or woods! And she's a girl. Males have red or orange eyes. Well, this particular species is the most difficult to care for in captivity and they burrow and hibernate underground for the winter. I knew the humane thing was to set it free in a safe environment. Elijah was broken-hearted. :-(

Today we had a a little ceremony and drove to a place close by that has a heron habitat, butterfly gardens, native grasses and wetlands for turtles, and we set Squirtle free. She took off without a backward glance, obviously quite happy to be back to nature.

We still wonder how she found our yard. We do live near a huge creek and also a recreation area with a huge lake and lots of wildlife, but it had to have crossed at least one or two streets to get here. There are two main causes for thee turtles to die prematurely: humans catching them and giving them improper care

Live long and prosper, Squirtle!


  1. Maybe little baby Squirtles will visit Jay one day :)

  2. You did the right thing. She will be happier and live a better life than if you had kept her. I hope she doesn't try crossing those streets again!

  3. My husband found a turtle/tortoise in our yard about a month ago. He brought it back to the canal where we figured he came from. He/she had walked a block which must have taken quite a while.

  4. I hope Elijah's memories will comfort him as well as knowing he did the right thing.
    I recently saw a turtle crossing the road, on 2 separate occasions; wonder if they are seeking water as it has been a dry June after a very wet May?
    Saw a BIG snapping turtle 2 yrs ago. Had to kick him off the road as I didn't want him run over or to bite me and had no shovel as I usually do in winter!

    One son at birth had a ridge of bone running up the middle of his forehead like the aliens on Star-Trek and it had to be shaved down in skull surgery. So I think of the turtle as a symbol or totem for David and use a form of the word as my computer password.

  5. We've had deer, rabbits and badgers in our yard before, but never a turtle.

    I hope Squirtle enjoys her new home that you found for her.

  6. My nephews had some turtles that they kept in the basement for years. They loved them.