Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Adventures of Mr.Tom

Stepping outside to test the temperature, I give an inward groan. Mr.Tom needs to have a sunbath but it just isnt warm enough yet today. It is supposed to be seventy five degrees this afternoon but it was only thirty last night and there was a frost. So our red eared slider is languishing on a heating pad. I noticed that his shell had a few nicks in it and decided to do some major research. A heating pad was recommended. A host of things was recommended, which was pretty shocking for what I thought would be a low maintenance pet.
Seth begged for a turtle for years. Small aquatic turtles were outlawed. We were able to buy a turtle, finally, this month and only because it had a shell bigger than four inches across. I should have put the research in before the turtle came home but I was so excited to finally fulfill Seth's dream that I just grabbed every turtle accessory I could find and waited to soak in the smile on Seth's face. The guy at the pet store did not give me any stern warnings. He did not recommend a particular tank, certainly not a tank that allowed for ten gallons per inch of shell. We have a ten gallon tank. Since I was looking for a new lid for my ten gallon tank, I was pretty sure he was aware. The special floating turtle dock I purchased does not even fit in the tank. But Seth was smiling...
So now I worry about Mr.Tom. Often. I really did not need anything else to worry about. Seth was not feeling jilted- that should have ERASED the worries I had but now I am just stressed. A life is a responsibility and it doesnt matter to me that it is a small turtles life I am fearing for, it is alive and it's life is in MY hands.
I looked up "Red Earred Sliders" on google for some basic instructions after seeing the nick in his shell. The site was full of warnings, cautioning that taking on a turtle is no small challenge. They require a certain temperature that needs to be monitored. That surprised me since they live in ponds year round. They require calcium on a regular basic as well and the site warned me to not feel Mr.Tom meal worms. I glanced in disgust at the bottle of newly purchased meal worms that sported a red earred slider on its label. It's a good thing I bought him several types of food. He seems to prefer the meal worms. Don't we always want what we shouldnt have? Perhaps a meal worm is a turtle's chocolate. They recommend good veterinary care. Especially if they receive a nick on the shell...
On my budget, a vet is out of the question. I take the first aid advice that they provide and run with it. He needs time in the sun and time on a heating pad. He gets a thirty minute bath twice a day. And, I have to be careful that he doesnt drown. Drown? He is an aquatic turtle. But ok, I'm very paranoid now that he might not come up for air. What if his rocks arent perfectly sloped and he cant climb onto his dock? What if his rocks have bacteria on them that make him sick. If he looks sick I have to put drops in his eyes. But what if he hides in his shell when it's time for the drops? This is just too complicated.
And then I see a special section all about returning turtles to the wild. A lightbulb goes off in my head. I'm certainly not the first person to buy a turtle in impulse. Are there turtles languishing in pet stores all over the county, cheaply priced and headed to certain death? Probably. I know for certain that Mr.Tom hates it when Sage runs off the bus and grabs him impossibly fast iin order to show her friends on the bus how lucky she is. And the dogs barking next to his head...he may just die of fright. He really doesnt appear to be that happy...for a turtle. I decide that Mr.Tom is going to a beautiful pond near us where he can be appreciated. And where I'm not the guilty party should he perish. It took awhile to sell Seth on the idea. But I think he understands that this is a bigger responsibility than he really wanted to undertake. I tell him that we can paint his shell with a bit of enamel and find him whenever we want. Something tells me it won't be that simple but Seth jumps at the idea.
It is just too cold for Mr.Tom to lay in the sun right now. But I can relax, just a bit, knowing that tonight he is heading back to the wild.

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