Saturday, June 23, 2007
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 and...cars.
Live long and prosper, Squirtle!