trouble letting wild turtles be wild

pjtexgirl(7b DFW)September 13, 2011

I have lurked here but not posted for a long time. I have a small 500 gallon 1ft deep pond in an area with mild winters. This fishless/filterless pond was designed to attract frogs and dragonflies. I just got it lined this spring (before it was unlined rainwater retention pond) Two years ago a tiny turtle moved in. I worried about him the first winter, the second winter and even tho it's dry and 103 in Texas today I'm worried about him again for this winter! I keep reptiles, birds, chinchillas at home so it's so against my personality not to caretake! The turle is wild. The turtle moved here, and is in the rational side of my brain, free to leave. Anyone else have this urge to caretake wild animals? He/she probably wants me to leave it the heck alone to do it's thing!

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OMG me too. I get the "worries" about the two frogs that have finally found my pond. And, like you, I keep reminding myself that they are where they want to be and I just say froggie prayers that they will find whatever they need to survive our brutal winters.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 5:11PM
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Oh my God, me Too!

My neighbor just released a baby turtle in mine he found wondering the street, and I mean small about 2 inches big and I have no idea what to do with it!

It was swimming around in there the last time I checked before it got dark


    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 9:10PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

This turtle wandered in when he(or she?) was only 1 1/2 across. The closest water sources (one across roads and the other out in a field) are a mile away. That's quite a treck for something the size of a .50 piece!

I've always lived in zone 8 or higher. We had a wicked heat snap this year. It was around 110 for 60 days. Thank goodness I had my existing stock tank pond to transfer plants out of to cool that shallow pond and provide shade.

I can't imagine a zone 4or 5 winter. It would throw EVERYTHING I know about gardening or overwintering anything, including my house, out the window. If I ever moved there I hope I'd have really nice neighbors to coach me on what was obvious to them. I don't think I'd be able to have any type of water garden! I'd just end up with a bunch of frozen stuff at the bottom of a giant icecube.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 9:42PM
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I have a 2,500 gallon koi pond and live in a residential community. One day, a ten-inch red-eared slider appeared in the pond. I was first worried about my koi but after initial jitters, they seemed to adapt. I didn't know what to feed him so I threw in some occasional lettuce, which he ate, but I simply let him fend for himself.

He (she?) was with us for about three months, swimming with the koi or sunning on a rock outside the pond. On two occasions, we had to fish him out of the swimming pool (did he want to swim laps or what???).

We left for a two-week trip to Hawaii and I built a ramp in the pool so he could get out if he fell in again. But when we got home, he was gone, never to be seen again.

I've read that turtles can harbor parasites that are bad for your fish, and that they will eat smaller fish. But other than that, we thought this guy was really fun!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 6:34PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

Maybe he was doing laps to impress the ladies before he took off :). I do get attached and I will be sad if "Turt" wanders off which he probably will. It's sometimes hard to let go. I'm glad I'm not the only one all goofy over a turtle tho!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 11:07PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

In the Dallas-Ft.Worth area, your turtle could easily be a desert dweller who thinks he is in paradise near your pond. Have you identified it? I wouldn't worry about it surviving the winter. After all it must be native to the area and is acclimated to the climate.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 6:03PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

I moved to Fort Worth from the Mojave desert. Funny I don't think of this as desert at all! You're right tho. Desert tortoise are here too. You actually have to be careful not to allow desert tortoise around ponds. They can drown. This is a common ole' red eared slider. I also know you're right about his survival. I have to sit on my hands not to interfere!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 3:17PM
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hardin(7 SE OK)

Oh, yes, I do the same thing. I have had a few different "pets" take up residence in my pond and also had a very small red-eared slider show up this summer. He is very secretive and I have to sneak up to the kitchen window to see him. I do feed him some turtle food and added a log so he can sun himself. I figured as he showed up by himself, he will know what to do when winter gets here. But that doesn't mean I will not worry. LOL!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 8:36PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

The critters that show up are often able to find a way into our lives and we have to take care they don't become dependent on us. When we encourage them to interact with humans we are not doing them any favors. Not long ago I had a big problem with a group of raccoon that someone had obviously been hand feeding.

Its not always a human problem though. Right now I am having a nightly argument with our cat who wants the young possum in our back yard to come into the house. We didn't realize we had a visitor until DH mentioned the cat was cleaning her dish rather well. I looked, it was polished, I started searching. Sure enough, it was in the laundry room. It took 30 hours of trying to corner it while keeping the cat out of it. At one point when I was attempting to shoo it out a door, two raccoon came charging in to get the bowl of cat food I was using as bait. Fortunately I had my cane in hand and was able to shoo them back outside but not before they emptied the bowl. I was finally able to grab the possum by the tail after tossing a towel over it's head. I took it outside but an hour later it strolled into the living room. The cat had popped a different door open. This time the chase was not as long but I'm an old lady and I can't move as fast as I used to. Thank goodness that tail works well to control them. (I have a long history catching possum by their tails. I just wish DH was not so squeamish about critters).

While a turtle doesn't move as fast and doesn't hide as well, they can be as stubborn as the possum and raccoon and their bite can be nasty. Try not to interfere if you can avoid it.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 3:25PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

OMG sleepless! Wow! I like wildlife but not in my house!!! Your cat, no offense, is a nut! I don't have pet doors and only feed my dogs what they can take in one sitting. My neighbor and I have small water gardens, grow veggies and they have a bee hive. Between the avalible water during a horrific drought,the veggies (they eat them off the plant,nothing is rotting), and the honey, we have a rat issue that is kept in check with traps. The older folks across the street killed the big ole rat snake that was controlling them. I love em to death but am miffed they took out the snake. I'm hoping the skunk that decapacitated a couple of rats doesn't move in!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 11:08AM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Pjtexgirl, somehow my household and that of my oldest son attract critters. It has always been that way. We do try to let nature prevail but when people get involved it is difficult. I'm really sorry about the rat snake and your neighbors. I've been in the same situation. Many people are terrified of snakes, any snake. It has always baffled me. Don't get me wrong,snakes inside a house are not a good thing and I have helped people who had that problem but most snakes, non-venomous of course, are very beneficial.

As for our many experiences with animals I think it is because I am an insomniac. I often sit by the pond in the dark and watch them as they come to the pond. I don't think our neighbors believe me when I tell them about the critters that live in our very urban neighborhood. I worry when they leave their pets out at night or leave food outside.

The cat really isn't crazy, she is very, very smart for a cat. I noticed her watching the possum outside for a long time before she started trying to let it in. She seems to worry about it.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 2:45PM
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hardin(7 SE OK)

Speaking of ratsnakes...the other day at work some ladies were freaking out. I looked and there was a baby Great Plains ratsnake in the building. We got a large mug and caught him. I took him home with me and released him into the fields back behind my house, which is full of rocks, boulders and mice snacks. Hopefully, he will return the favor I did him by catching the mice. I will admit to not being a snake "lover" but you guys are right, they do us a valueable service.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 8:14PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

I've had some smart cats too. This usually manifested itself in hunting other animals tho. Your cat seems to think it's a people!

LOL! I have a funny pic in my mind of a snake in a coffee mug.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 10:47PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

LOL, didn't you know? Cats KNOW they are people! At least the ones that have adopted us over the years. We aren't the only ones that notice. The Vet's office has a boarding service and when we picked up our kitty after we left her for a week we were regaled by one assistant who told us about how kitty ruled the whole place while she was there. She demanded to go with the asst. to check on all the other animals when they opened in the mornings, carried on conversations with everyone except the animals, got her own private room and the asst. ended with "Then I found myself answering her! She had questions about everything!"

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 11:31AM
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