Turtles as pets: Care and concerns – Part 15

I`m not sure how it has happened, but I now have 21 turtles. As I have researched different websites, I have found that most people who love turtles probably can`t eat just one potato chip either.

A friend gave me one baby stinkpot (musk) turtle because her granddaughter found it on the shore. It was so tiny that they just couldn`t let it go, but being afraid of salmenella made it impossible to keep. That was about eight years, and twenty turtles ago.

So, I named him Willie, not knowing how to even tell the difference between the sexes. It has been quite a journey from that day. I have learned so much about caring for turtles, much of it by trial and error, and also by asking a lot of questions.

I`ve learned that there are over 200 species of turtles, and each has its own personalities and needs. Well, I should correct that statement. There are now over 201 species of turtles, because Willie turned out to be, “Willa”, and she has been mating with a mud turtle for the past few years. Eight of her babies are now over a year old.

I have an enclosure made from wire mesh and wood that measures about 8 ft. by 8 ft.in the back yard. Living in central Florida makes it possible for them to be outside daily for most of the year. Once the temperature stays under 70 degrees, though, 17 of the turtles become strictly indoor pets. The enclosure has a small pond filtered by a solar birdbath fountain, climbing places, two caves to hide in and plants to find a quiet place to snooze.

I would totally recommend to anyone with turtles to give them this gift of freedom…sort of. Several of them run for the caves when they see me coming at dusk to collect them and bring them inside for the night.

When it is really warm at night, I do leave them out until the next evening. It is always like a treasure hunt to search for them after they have been out doing there turtle things.

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