Tag Archives: Painted turtle

No turtle babies for 2014

2 Jan

I’ll get right to the fact that no turtle eggs hatched for me in 2014. I realize now what I did wrong so let’s skim over my stupidity as quickly as possible and move on to other topics that showcase my brilliance.

CAM03109This looks pretty good, right? The eggs are in the shoebox-sized plastic tub covered by Coir (coconut-fiber), and vermiculite. Under that is a bed of sand. Under the little tub is another bed of sand, maybe 3 inches (8 cm) deep. Under the bigger tub is a heating pad, the kind you would use if you were sick or cold. I set the pad on the lowest setting. I wanted even distribution of the heat on to the eggs so they would incubate at 80-85F. (27-30 C).

I then placed the plastic cover that came with the big tub over the whole thing. I didn’t fit it on tight. I left it a bit loose so there would be some circulation of fresh air to avoid mold.

Every few days I would open the lid and spray water over the eggs and sand.

The only glitch along the way was the time we had a power outage and the heater kicked off. I didn’t realize it for nearly a week. The temperature went below 70F (21C). I don’t think that caused a problem, though. It seems to me that in the wild turtle eggs could easily get colder than that and still hatch as long as the temperature eventually heated up. The incubation would just last longer.

When the time to hatch was getting near I checked the eggs. They were shriveled and dry. I was shocked. I thought I had kept them hydrated but then I realized that I had too much sand draining the moisture away. Even though the eggs were covered by Coir and vermiculite, they actually were sitting on sand that pulled moisture away.

This happened to two clutches of eggs. The mother turtle laid two sets of eggs in a very short time, only weeks apart, so both clutches were in the incubator together.

Here are the parent turtles (Red-eared sliders) in the pond.

Here are the parent turtles (Red-eared sliders) in the pond.

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After a hard rain it’s a good time to watch for the female turtle emerging from the pond to lay her eggs.

I carefully dug the eggs out of the wet ground. If you don;t see the turtle lay her eggs you will never find the nest, I promise.

I carefully dug the eggs out of the wet ground. If you don’t see the turtle lay her eggs you will never find the nest, I promise.

This is the second clutch of the summer. There were 7 eggs in the first nest and six in this one.

This is the second clutch of the summer. There were 7 eggs in the first nest and six in this one.

If you’ve gotten this far you must be a turtle lover! Here are a few other turtle pictures just for fun.

Here's old Peggy, a Central American Wood Turtle, finding a worm in her salad. I've had her almost 25 years!

Here’s old Peggy, a Central American Wood Turtle, finding a worm in her salad. I’ve had her almost 25 years!

Does this look like turtle food?

Does this look like turtle food?

After the Hibiscus flower begins to wilt my Red-foot Tortoise gets a treat.

After the Hibiscus flower begins to wilt my Red-foot Tortoise gets a treat.

I picked up this Western Painted turtle while at a local park.

I picked up this Western Painted turtle while at a local park. I released her quickly, but not quick enough.

I never had this happen before. She peed. A lot.

I never had this happen before. She peed.                    A  lot.

 

 

 

 

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Stories from a Turtle’s Shell

21 Jan

Last month I was given a family treasure. Well, in MY mind it is a family treasure.

Here is a little turtle shell that once sat in my Grandmother’s curio cabinet. Way back in the 1960’s I used to look at it and admire it. I wished I had that little turtle shell. I really wished I had the baby turtle.

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Where did it come from? What happened to the poor thing?  The shell is only two inches long. It’s the shell of a Western Painted Turtle. This little turtle probably hatched one Summer and would have been this size by Autumn. And then…I’ll never know.

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My relatives have a cabin along the Wapsipinicon River in Iowa. Very probably this little turtle was born on that river. There are lots of Western Painted Turtles there now.

How’s this for a cosmic thought:  His relatives are living there now. Painted Turtles can live 40 years. Maybe one of his brothers or sisters is still there, and right now is lying under the mud, waiting for Spring. I hope so.

I have had a Central American Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys pulcherimma) since 1990. That’s almost 23 years! She looked old when I got her. If she was 20 years old when I got her she would be 43 now. Again, I can never know the truth.
But look at this, she is missing a foot!
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Her foot was gone when I got her. I’ve always wondered what happened to her foot? I think a predator bit it off!!! These turtles live in Mexico and Central America. Maybe a Jaguar grabbed her!
She also has a big scar on the back end of her shell. A fang mark from the Jaguar!
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I bet the Jaguar figured he was going to eat my turtle but No! She turned around and bit him on the nose! The Jaguar screamed and ran off and then… well, maybe I don’t know for sure.
I have also had a Red-foot Tortoise for 3 years. She (you can tell it’s a she by her stubby little tail) has a shell deformity called “pyramiding”. The shell is not evenly rounded but has peaks and valleys.
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Her shell looked like this when I got her. As she gets older maybe it will look less
pyramided as she gets a better diet and more sunshine.
There is a ton of information about pyramiding in tortoises. One website says pyramiding is caused by:

too much protein
too little calcium
too much phosphorous (a poor calcium :phosphorous ratio)
not enough D3

However there are some less obvious, though equally important factors involved

lack of exercise
hydration status
grain based diets
lack of fiber
too much food

So my Red-foot probably got the wrong diet, too much protein, when she was young. It’s easy to think they like fruits and worms like our native American Box Turtles but Red-foots like to graze on weeds. They eat a lot of roughage like a cow!

What happens when aquarium keepers go fishing

22 Jun

A friend of mine is just as crazy as I am about fish tanks and other exotic pets. I called him this morning and asked if he would go up to the Wapsi River with me for some canoeing, exploring, and fishing.
As we were unloading our gear we saw a Northern Water Snake hanging along the edge of the boat dock. Across the river I could see a big Softshell Turtle basking on a log.

We canoed into the backwaters of the river and saw several Western Painted Turtles. When we got WAY back into the backwaters the water was still and clear. Frogs were jumping everywhere, and under water we could see huge Bullfrog tadpoles. We noticed two varieties of aquatic plants, Hornwort and Anacharis, and collected a little for our home tanks.
One of my main goals for the day was to find some interesting driftwood to use in my 55 gallon aquarium that will house the baby Red-eared Sliders.
It was fun to canoe in the backwaters. We had to duck under branches and maneuver the canoe around big tree trunks. We saw a Great Blue Heron and some small ducks. Big Carp would swirl in the shallow flats, stirring up the mud.
We went back out to the main channel and, along the way, saw a baby Map Turtle basking on a small log. My friend leaned out of the front of the canoe with a big dip net, holding it underwater, while I paddled quietly and inched him closer and closer. He bumped the log and the little turtle dove right into the net. My friend wants to keep him for awhile and release him later this Summer.

We made our way up to a large sandbar and I picked up some interesting driftwood pieces.

There were thousands of minnows schooling in the shallows.

We found ourselves wandering. We went into the woods and found a little pond filled with hundreds of small frogs. They appeared to be juvenile Bullfrogs, but I think there were some other species as well.
My friend would be searching in one direction and I would be off in the other direction. We had brought our fishing poles but hadn’t touched them.


Off in the distance, my friend is walking along the sandbar, looking for….who knows!


I ended up standing in the water and enjoying it so much that I swam across the river to another sandbar. Not very far at all, but the feel of the current and the cool water really put me in touch with reality. Then I came back to to where my canoe was. My friend had started fishing and had caught a young Largemouth Bass, maybe 6 or 7 inches long. As usual, the fishing looked better on the other side of the river, so I grabbed my fishing pole and swam toward an area of large downed trees. I stood up on a huge tree and watched a big Softshell Turtle come up for a breath. I made a few casts into the shaded areas against the shore and along the tree trunks. No luck, and I got snagged after a few minutes. I pulled on the line and the lure broke off. I watched a Watersnake swim right below me. Reluctantly, I climbed off the log and and went back to the sandbar.

Out on the river, you can barely see me standing on a log where I was fishing…but not catching.


We left the sandbar and I acted as a human trolling motor for my friend as he fished along the driftwood, then the rocks, and finally along the boat docks as we returned to our starting point. He fished like a pro, putting the lure in some very fishy-looking locations but he didn’t catch any.
I dropped him off at his house. He had a very over-populated tank of Mollies. I don’t have any Black Mollies so he gave me some.

I washed off the aquatic plants and put them into a tank with some baby Swordtails. I’ll have to watch closely. There is a good chance some predatory aquatic insect larvae are in those plants.

Baby Green Swordtails that were born a few days ago.


All in all, we fished about an hour and explored for three hours. We had seen frogs, tadpoles, clams, crayfish, ducks,a heron, lots of little fish, snakes and turtles. On the way home both us were chattering about going back as soon as possible.
I think I will give him one or two of my baby Red-ear Sliders and we can take that Map Turtle back to the river where he belongs.

Turtles are taking over

7 May

WordPress bloggers know that we can see the “search terms” that people use to find our blogs. We can’t see their names or email addresses, unless they want us to, but I say this so I can show you the “search terms” that are used to find my FISHKEEPING blog.
Today is a typical example:

turtle 22
yellow glow tetra 3
leopard catfish for sale 2
painted red eared slider 2
colombian tetras 2
turtle pond 2
painted turtle tank 2
baby red ear slider turtles 1
green glo tetras 1

Turtles, turtles, turtles!
I want to make my readers happy. Here’s what’s going on in the backyard turtle pond:

The momma turtle, seen here…

…has laid more eggs. Rememnber she had laid 5 about 6 weeks ago and now has made another nest. She was out wandering around, off and on, for 3 days. Then she settled in and dug another nest. Here it is, it looks like a little mudhole about 5 inches in diameter. It helps to actually see the female digging so you can recognize that this is a turtle nest.

I am keeping the first batch in an indoor “incubator” but I am going to leave this second batch in the ground. I wonder how many are in there? I am guessing another 5 or so.
I cut some wire and placed it over the nest to keep out any predators.


The baby turtles would be able to walk right through this wire contraption, so I plan to make something different (using wire with narrower openings) or remove the eggs to a safe indoor location as it gets nearer their “due date”.

Pond Cleaning Day!!!

11 Mar

Our weather has improved so quickly that I was shocked into cleaning the pond. In past years I haven’t done it until late April.
I have the weekend off and the weather forecast calls for 70 degree temps for the remainder of the week. Wow, Spring is here already!!

If you ever want to build a medium-sized backyard pond I will caution you that it takes a lot of physical work. When I built my pond I worked hard for 7 days straight.  Now, every Spring , it takes a full day to clean out the pond and fill it for the new year.

Last night I drained the pond about halfway. It was smelly and gross and I knew it was only going to get worse as I got closer to the bottom. My backyard was crowded with buckets and nets and hoses and it STUNK like mad. I apologize to my neighbors if they detected the aroma of turtle poo. This morning, I finished pumping out the rest of the so-called water, then actually climbed into the pond and scooped and scraped and almost slipped and swam.

This smells worse than it looks.

Yucky-foo is all I can say.

YAY almost full and ready for fish and turtles.

These are the minnows who survived the winter and will go back into the pond once the water ages a day or so.

I also cleaned my 30 gallon pond. This a great size to begin with. It only took an hour to clean up.

Summertime Turtle Pond Pics

19 Feb

Here are some pictures of my turtle pond taken in the summer.
I can’t wait to get out there and drain it, and scrub it and refill it. It’s a really nasty, disgusting job. I mean really gross. Stinky. But I can’t wait to do it! Probably about 2 months from now.

I see two turtles here. One is reflected, upside-down, at the top of the picture.

Painted Turtle from PetCo

6 Jan

Here’s another tale of a rescued Turtle. This story is not very dramatic. Not nearly as exciting as the time I stood waist-deep in a river pulling 20-pound Snapping Turtles out of a trapper’s net, hoping I wasn’t going to get shot. Or get my fingers bitten off.

This poor Painted Turtle was in PetCo, brought in by someone who didn’t want him anymore. I really didn’t want another turtle, as they do take a lot of care. I slyly suggested to the employees that they “Put the turtle in a bucket, drive to a pond, and let him go.” After all, it’s a Western Painted Turtle, our most common turtle in Iowa by far. The young ladies working there said this turtle, even though he is relatively small, was about 11 years old and had been in captivity possibly his whole life. Would he know how to hibernate? Well, darn it, they were right, so I promised to take him and give him a good home.

Here he is, doing great, so to the ladies at PetCo in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this is one rescued turtle that should live a long, happy life.

He's small for an adult and is likely stunted.