Saturday, March 07, 2009

Turtle Troubles

It's been a while since this blog has seen news of my turtles, so I think it's time for an update. As you recall, I have two male Red Eared Sliders. In my post entitled What's in a Name? I recounted our difficulties in naming them. Based on their recent behavior we have reverted to the names my son originally gave to them: Dinky and Doofus. As you might expect, Dinky has always been the smaller of the two, his carapace (shell) now measuring 5" from head and tail. Doofus is now 6" long. Here's a pair of pictures to illustrate how much they've grown.

May 2006: Notice that both turtles fit between the supports
of the floating turtle dock.

September 2008: Now they fill the entire dock!

At five years of age, Doofus and Dinky are solidly into their adolescence and hormones abound. The courting ritual for aquatic turtles begins when the male turtle positions himself face to face with the female and extends both paws so that they touch the sides of the female's face. As the male flutters his paws, his long toenails stroke the sides of the female's face. This fluttering is a definite turn-on and leads to mating. Unfortunately for Doofus, the suitor, no amount of courting will entice Dinky, the wooed, into a role for which he is simply not equiped!

This behavior began some months ago. Doofus would flirt for a while, then get distracted and swim away. But just after Christmas we noticed that the courting had intensified. Doofus seemed unable to do anything else. He chased Dinky around the tank, fluttering those paws like a hopeless, lovelorn idiot! Dinky would occasionally snap back, but when even that response failed to drive Doofus away, Dinky withdrew into his shell and sank like a rock to the bottom of the tank. We tried separating them for brief periods, relegating Doofus to a 20 gallon tank. This strategy did nothing to discourage him. The amorous Doofus resumed his relentless courting whenever he found himself back in the 55 gallon tank with Dinky.

Realizing that courting behavior between two males is an attempt by the aggressor to establish dominance, we came to grips with the fact that Dinky's quality of life was doomed if he continued to live with Doofus. The turtles would have to be separated permanently. Separation meant finding one of them a new home or getting a second tank. Being more fond of the turtles than much of the furniture and miscellaneous nonsense that crowds my apartment, I threw out an old desk and some other useless items to make room for another tank.

I devoted my 3-day President's Day weekend (February 14-16) to Doofus's new home. On Saturday morning, with the help of my husband and son and a U-Haul panel truck, we moved all the stuff I had purchased from a Craigslist seller in Brooklyn to our Manhattan apartment. Saturday evening I cleaned and re-sealed the tank. Sunday I cleaned the 2 Eheim filters which were included. Monday I had new hoses installed on the Eheim filters, and by Monday night we filled the tank and put Doofus in his new environment. Voila!

The new tank is still a work in progress. At the moment, as you can see, it has only the necessities of life -- water, filtration, UVB lighting, and a floating turtle dock for basking. It looks pretty bare right now. I'll post more pictures when it's all decorated and finished.

Finally, the turtles are at peace. They show no signs of missing each other. In his 90 gallon tank, Doofus has room to dive deep and stretch his legs. He basks happily under his lamp and begs for food whenever I pass by. Dinky's 55 gallon tank seems more spacious now that he's the only one in it, and he often plays happily in the current of the output hose. He can bask on his dock or sleep on his brick without being knocked off every time he gets comfortable. What pampered turtles they are! Of the two, however, I can't help but think Dinky is the luckier one. Not only did I save him from the fate of most red eared sliders, from shell rot, and from drowning (see Lucky Larry), I set up another tank to free him from harrassment. What next?

© 2009, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Linda, this is hilarious! Poor Dinky!