Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hatchling Unmutated Non-combative Chelonians

Bizarro Dad told our daughters that if we couldn't take them to the beach this weekend, we'd get some new fish for the fish tank (45 gallons, and we only have two algae eaters and one very aggressive cichlid who eats any other fish we introduce).

Bizarro Dad then remembered his final exam is on Monday, and if he passes THAT, the state exam is two days later. All his spare time (when he's not watching Black Snake Moan, apparently) is devoted to study and making flashcards. Guess where we're not going this weekend?

Knowing this would be the case, my darling husband went to a nearby fish store, presumably to get some more cichlids or a betta, something we're already equipped to take care of.

It was so simple. I thought it would be safe. He went alone.

He came back an hour later with two Red Ear Slider turtles and a floating faux log.

Most of the stuff they need, we already have, like a filter and an aquarium heater. The pet shop guy gave him a little bag of turtle pellets, so they've got food. And of course there's the log, so little Crush and Squirt have a place to climb up and rest themselves. Even the cichlid, Nemo, left them alone once he realized he can't bite them into submission (those darn hard shells). Turtles are completely compatible with our tank.

But uh-oh. Pet Shop Guy neglects to inform us that we also need a "basking area" for the turtles, a place where they can climb up and sun themselves under the vitamin-enriching rays of the UVB lamp.

Husband goes out and gets ANOTHER floating thing, one that will remain stationary, and cuts a hole in the tank hood so the light from our lamp (repurposed from our garage lighting) can get through. The turtles love it! Except that we don't actually have a UVB bulb, and they're just making due with a 60 watt.

Oh, and it turns out Crush has an open wound where his tail used to be. This is especially bad, since all his peeing, pooping, and sexual activity will take place from one location: the cloaca, located in (you guessed it) his tail. Bizarro Dad has to take him back to Pet Shop Guy for an exchange. Oldest Daughter, who is now sobbing about Crush's departure, is told that Crush is getting his tail fixed. She moves on to sobbing about missing Daddy, and when is Daddy coming home?, and I lost my Daddy and miss him so much, can I see a picture of Daddy?
My research also indicates that we should throw away the pellets Pet Shop Guy gave us and get some high quality stuff, in addition to calcium supplements, aquatic plants, red-leaf lettuce, that UVB bulb I mentioned, the occasional live prey, a vet that can handle exotic animals, and a home improvement loan.

Wait, what? Oh yeah, you read that right. Two adult Red Ears require two hundred gallons of water, and if either of them are females then I have to provide a nesting area as well. Do you have any idea how much it will cost to build a two hundred gallon pond complete with filtration, nesting area, basking area, shaded area, unclimbable border (to prevent escapes), and protection from predator animals?

The best part, though? Captive Red Ear Sliders have an average lifespan of 40 years.

Forty. Years.

I will be 68 years old. My children will be middle-aged and have their own grandchildren on the way before these turtles no longer need me to care for them.
Don't get me wrong, the turtles are very cute, and I look forward to enjoying their presence. But I wasn't expecting a 40-year commitment to drop in my lap because my husband promised to take the kids to the beach the day before his final exam and then suddenly remembered he had to STUDY!
Next time, I don't care if it's raining, exam time, or two days before my due date, I'm taking those girls to the beach. That, or making sure I don't send Bizarro Dad to the pet shop alone. God help me if he brings home a pet that requires I name one of our great-grandkids its legal guardian in our Will.

1 comment:

aurrasinger said...

Oh no!! Sounds a lot like me, I went from zero-three turtles within a year! Except two of mine can live to be 50+, so at least you don't have to worry about that(in all fairness they'll only need a 30-40gal aquarium, but my other will need a pond...)