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 Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

The do's, don'ts and
wonders of having pet turtles

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
My recent article about turtles brought numerous responses from avid turtle owners. I could not believe how many ladies had backyards full of turtles.

First, I learned that as turtles reach a certain age, the male turtles have red eyes and reddish-tinted scales on their legs and skin. Male turtles are very aggressive, will bite the hand that feeds them and will attack another male turtle. Female turtles, at a certain age, acquire yellow eyes. They are gentle, will not bite unless threatened and can become great pets.
Big turtle in Texas

TE Photo
It seems land turtles have a territory usually in the area where they are born. The size of the territory varies according to the amount of food available. By the way, turtles will eat almost anything, including hamburger meat, lettuce, tomatoes, almost any fruit, dog and cat food, cow feed, grain and fresh garbage from the kitchen.

After awhile, they will come to a call or sound, and some will scratch on your back door for feeding. One longtime pet will enter the house, go to the refrigerator and rock back and forth begging for lettuce.

I've wondered where land turtles get water out on the prairie, miles from the nearest pond. They acquire moisture from morning dew as the turtle moves through the grass. They can sense a rain coming 24 hours before and will dig a small hole to catch the rain.

One expert said turtles always know when the first freeze is coming, dig a hole and begin winter hibernation. They also know when the last freeze is over, and come back to the surface. If a turtle has sufficient food and escapes predators like coyotes or other male turtles, they can live to 75 years of age.
Turtle
TE Photo

Another expert states, if you are trying to trap turtles out of a pond to protect your fish, the best bait is fresh meat or roadkill like a rabbit or bird. Somehow, they sense or smell this presence and will scale trap ramps to reach the bait.

Some believe that, like other pets, if turtles are removed from their home territory, they will continue to try to return until they arrive or are killed in the attempt. Coyotes have been known to turn turtles over on their backs to die in revenge for not being able to eat them because of the shells. I have seen coyotes going cross country carrying a turtle in their mouths. I wonder why?

One response cited a humorous side.

Some consider many politicians are like "post turtles." A post turtle finds itself sitting on top of a square-cut fence post with no traction, absolutely no idea how he got there, no clue as to how to get down or what he is going to do while stranded on top of the post.


Delbert Trew

"It's All Trew" January 19, 2010 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

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