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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

Ask me about my turtle. Do.

So my mother-in-law finds a reptile in the middle of the road. And picks it up, thinking, logically, that it must be a desert tortoise. Since we live in the middle of the Mojave.

She brings it home, because tortoises of any description do not belong wandering down the center of the road in a residential neighborhood. And she puts it in a shady corner of the garden with some lettuce, thinking it will snack and then burrow in to hibernate. This being what tortoises do in winter.

Well, today she found it wandering around the garden again--it was on our front step--and she decides to get my father-in-law to dig it a burrow, since it's obviously too verklempt to undertake the process itself.

So my husband wanders in and says, "My dad's digging a grave for a tortoise."

And I say "Oh, the tortoise turned up again? I've never seen one of those."

And he says, "Well, it's not burrowed in yet, come look."

So I wander over there, and I'm looking at this thing, and I'm noticing it has yellow stripes on its belly, and a flat-arched shell rather than a domed one.... and a pointed nose with nostrils at the tip instead of a kind of rounded one... (At one point in my herptile-keeping career, I had a baby Eastern Painted Turtle for about six months before I re-released him.)

And I say, "I don't think that's a tortoise, guys."

So Kit googles around while I wash the mud off the tortoise/turtle. And I discover that it has webbed feet and orange stripes on his head, and that it much prefers the bathtub to the garden.... And it's doing that water-turtle thing where it just sticks its eyes and nostrils out of the water....

And finally, he goes "That's a red-eared slider."

What an aquatic turtle the size of a dinner plate is doing in the middle of a residential street in Las Vegas is anybody's guess. But he's now ensconced in a sixty-gallon tank in the bedroom with a pile of gravel and four inches of water, until we decide what to do with him. We're trying to decide whether to keep him, donate him to the school, or find out where the closest population is so we can release him. He likes salad, though *g*

He was well on his way to being entombed alive... and the dogs are *fascinated.*


Five will get you ten that said red-ear was someone's pet let loose. Not only is importation of red-eared sliders illegal in Nevada, but I can tell you from hard-earned experience that they're a royal pain in the arse as far as pets are concerned. They're cute when they're hatchlings, but they rapidly grow (my mother found one big female crossing the highway that crosses the dam in Lake Grapevine, here in Texas, that measured a full fifteen inches across the top of the shell): they're filthy beasts that eat like pigs and try to kill anything that moves. The previous owner probably got tired of an ill-tempered reptile that alternated between snapping at him and doing its best to replace the water in its tank with feces, and found that most zoos and pet shops won't take them.

Now, if this one works out well, more power to everyone. As I said, though, I've had nothing but bad experiences with them, and this comes from someone who has nothing but fondness for snapping turtles, savannah monitors, and Western diamondback rattlesnakes. As far as "beginner" pets are concerned, I'd rate them somewhere between Nile monitors and Black Forest cobras, and lower than that I cannot get.
This one was testy, but it didn't try to get ahold of me. Just hissed like a bastard while I was trying to wiggle his foot out enough to see if his toes were webbed.

I've done all right with a particularly foul-tempered Burmese python (she wound up named "Grief," if that gives you a idea of her personality) so we'll see how it goes. Otherwise we'll either stick my husband's school with him, or mail him to a friend back east and have him dumped in a swamp somewhere.

He does eat like a filthy pig, though; that's for sure.
Burmese... Yuck.

One of the few snakes I just won't keep. Terry's first rule of snakes, if you will need more than one person to safely handle it, don't own it.

The tree pythons are also on that list, pretty as they are, because I hate being bitten, much less by something large enough to make me jump, and then the need to dig teeth out of my flesh.

And hot snakes are right out.

I don't do hot snakes either. So not my scene.

The Burmese was a rescue too--she had mites so bad, when I got her, that the soft tissue around her eyeplates had swollen closed over her eyes, and she had a cold, and she was as sick as a dog because the previous owners had tried to treat her mites by throwing a flea collar in her terrarrium. Just awful.

She never grew much past seven feet; I suspect the toxins from the collar were at fault. Pretty snake, though.
I don't do hot snakes either. So not my scene.

I like to imagine overhearing this in a dark nightclub. The young woman who said it looked a little like Louise Brooks.

It's all yours. *g*
The tree pythons are also on that list, pretty as they are, because I hate being bitten,

I had a crack at a blood python for ridiculously little money once (he was blind in one eye, and because he was damaged, the herp shop I frequented was having a hard time moving him) and that was pretty much my attitude. I talked to my buddy at the shop, got offered the snake (I think it was fifty bucks, or something ridiculously cheap like that), walked over to the cake, and looked at this absolutely gorgeous snake in all his gold and amber and crimson glory, and thought about the fact that he was five inches thick at the widest point and blood pythons are *evil* sons of bitches, and went--

--"Just sell me the mice, man."

Pretty snake, though.
Too bad the spousal unit is against snakes, or I'd offer to have a corn snake delivered.

In a year or two I could offer a Western Hognose, or an East African Sand Boa.

I need to set up a photo-tank, esp. as the new flash is really nice (I just raised my core temp by basking in a hot tub with a technical manual, followed by the set up of a Wolfe story. Now to make a snack, and some hot cocoa, with Pusser's, or perhaps some Islay. I am in the mood for strong flavors.

In a year or two I might be in a position to take you up on it.

I miss my ball a lot. She was a good neck snake. Very mellow.
The only reptile that's tagged me enough to draw blood was an albino Burmese: I have a very healthy respect for the little bastards. Hence, this explains why, when the Czarina asks me to warn her before I consider buying any large reptiles, I tell her "No snakes, if that's what you're worried about." Now, if I could get my hands on a hatchling crocodile monitor, though...
I think my worst bite was actually my ball python, and it was all my fault. It was just a circle of pinpricks, but boy was it bloody hell getting her teeth unhooked from my hand--she got a solid piece of me, and it was a prey-bite, not a defensive bite.

Mistook my hand for a mouse. My own damned fault.

I've been lucky, nothing but defensive bites.

Maia got nailed by one of the hognose, and that swelled something fierce, but other than that nothing too bad.

That one was odd. To hear her tell it, the snake made a very slow, and deliberate bite. Since they have a toxic (but not venomous) bite, it reacted.


As soon as you started this I knew you had a red-eared slider.

Fish, they like fish. They can be cranky, but there isn't likely to be anyplace you can release it. One, I don't think they are native to Vegas, and two, even if they were most states have laws against the release of wild animals which have been in captivity, even for a small period of time.

In Calif. one needs a fishing license to catch herps and amphibians, but if you have them in a place containing other herps/amphibs, you have to keep/sell it (which is the issue if one comes up against the total limits per species.

Even if you have kept it on quarantine (basically you own no other herp/amphibs) and are in the release window, if has to be within three miles of capture.

*nod* I have no idea what the rules are here. The painted turtle I wound up with salvaged from a drained pond and re-released same location when there was water again, and I blatantly ignored fish & game laws in the process.

All my herp books are in storage in CT, because I haven't had a herp in the house since 1996 (my husband's phobic about snakes), so guidance is welcome.

He's old enough and big enough that I don't think I have to worry about soft-shell, at least not up front.
Surface area is more important than sheer volume, and someplace to leave the water (a hill of gravel is nice) are beneficial.

Turtle chow, and fish. You'll need a thermometer, a heater, and a filter.

He's got a pile of gravel and enough water to get his head under, although not the top of his shell (he's a soup-sized turtle!), and he's at least dragging the greens and carrots I gave him into the water. Turtle chow tomorrow, I think.

Live feed or minced fish? I used to give my herps a vitamin mix as well.

What's the optimal temperature range for these guys?

They also need strong filtration, and the water is ideally going to be at the lower end with a basking area (I prefer ceramic elements to lights) and a timer for it.

12 inches, front to back on the shell is adult, males have longer tails and more prominent claws.

As they age they eat less protein, and I prefer an ad libitum diet, which is to say, gold fish/guppies in the water. They need to be able to completely get out of it (they aren't purely acquatic).

They do need full spectrum lighting, so a UVB source is needful, if it isn't housed outdoors.

For some online refs.




You rock.

Thank you, Terry!
too cute:) Thanks for sharing:)

Reminds me of the box turtle that wasn't very happy when I put him in a pond cause i was 6 and all I'd ever seen before was snapping turtles.
He may get his wish.

His working title is Gamera, unless we come up with something better.
Gamera is really neat.
Gamera is full of meat!
Damn, beat me to the line!

Though, I can also vouch for Tibby being a good turtle name, also with his own song!
turtle-y awesome, Bear!

(pulls head in before it gets whapped)


I have a model red-eared slider, oddly enough. It sits on my tv.
Want a real one???

Hmm, I think it might have trouble surviving the US Mail.