Gordon the girl turtle

I caught a swarm of bees a few weeks ago.  A swarm is usually a lot smaller in number than a full sized hive and they are often a little weaker and disoriented so I usually try to keep them separate from the bee yard for awhile until they get themselves together.  By consulting the bee gods, I determined that this weekend was the weekend to move the swarm to the bee yard in the country.  I usually catch swarms in a smaller “nuc box” which is easier to manage and seems to be better for the smaller swarm too.  As I transferred the swarm to a full sized hive, I found the queen and did a general “once over” of the colony.  They looked great so I called the move a success and started on some other clean-up tasks in the apiary.

Eastern Box Turtle Eastern Box Turtle

Turtles are master hiders

We have had some serious winds lately so a pile of junk had toppled over.  While I was suited up, I decided to work on that a little too.  As I started to gather things up, I noticed a small turtle hiding out under some stuff.  Friends, I have always wanted a pet turtle.  I don’t know why but I am fascinated by them and they are just cool to watch.  I stop on the road to get them to safety, almost every time I see one.  They are fascinating and I am curious so it’s a good match.  I had to check out this turtle that was right before me…he was in my bee yard after all!  This turtle had a crack in its shell but did not seem to be bothered by it.  Still, being a turtle sympathizer and seeing an opportunity for a pet turtle, I picked him up.

Eastern Box Turtle

Like all kids, I heard the story of the tortoise and the hare.  Of course, I know this was a box turtle and not a tortoise but my turtle was more hare-like than I expected.  He paddled and squirmed and when I set him down, he moved quite well.  I wanted to call him Flash, like the speedy super-hero.  Of course, we already have a cat named Flash, like the super-hero, so I knew that wouldn’t work.  I decided, instead, to name him Gordon, like the super-hero’s last name.

Eastern Box Turtle

That crack in his shell worried me…

I got permission from Emily and I was all prepared to have a new pet turtle.  I did a little reading on pet turtles and found out that it’s probably not cool to grab turtles from the wild as the breeding range is fairly limited and though momma turtles lay hundreds of eggs in their lifetimes, only 2-3 survive to adulthood.  Taking potential breeders out of the area can really mess with turtle populations and I want lots of turtles at the cabin.  Turtles in captivity also are very susceptible to dry-eyes and other ailments including nutritional issues and pneumonia.  I didn’t know it but turtles need calcium and all sorts of other minerals and they need light but not too much heat, but not too little heat either.  They need to roam some and dig some and…well, it seemed like more than I expected to keep a pet turtle.  With enough work (translate: money and time), some folks are able to manage keeping turtles in captivity but I don’t want to hurt the local turtle population and I certainly don’t want to have to work at it.

Eastern Box Turtle eating a raspberry

Turtle eating a raspberry

Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is that, in my reading, I determined Gordon is a girl.  Sexing a turtle is an interesting process.  They don’t like for people to peek inside their shells so…aw shucks, just kidding…it is easy.  Boy box turtles have red eyes, girl turtles have orange eyes.  Gordon definitely has orange eyes.  So, next weekend, I will return Gordon the girl turtle to where I found her so she can breed (if she is so inclined.  I like to think I raised her as  liberated turtle who doesn’t cave to societal norms) and keep moist eyes and eat all the slugs she wants.  If anyone asks, I once had a pet turtle though and her name was Gordon and she made me very happy!

6 thoughts on “Gordon the girl turtle

  1. You’re a smart guy to do the research and see what is best for the turtle.
    While the eye color is one way to try to see if it’s a boy or a girl it is not the most reliable way. A boy will have a concave plastron and a female will have a flat plastron.

  2. That was a very small turtle you found. I have seen on tv that you can tell if they are male or female by the shape of them bottom shell. If it is flat it is a girl. If it is curved it is a boy. I hadn’t heard about the eyes but that is neat to know too! My son found one 2 years ago and that turtle was anciently old! lol He played with it a few days and I talked him into letting it free. The poor thing was so old it would only make it 5 feet from where he set it free so he would catch it again! lol He finally let it free in the woods and it got away. He named his turtle Rocky!

  3. I, too, have always wanted a pet turtle and am glad to know it’s slightly difficult, but now if given the opportunity, I definitely want to feed a turtle a raspberry and give it a cool name like Gordon, if only for a day or two.

  4. I kne Schmenky would be all over this post, she has had her Cedric for about 18 years.
    I agree with Lisa at Two Bears Farm, the crack will be most helpful at identifying your girlfriend!

  5. Good call Lisa…I confirmed that as well and Gordon is a girl! I surely would love to keep her but I just can’t bring myself to do it. If I had a better location at the house to build a habitat, maybe. Alas, she will go back to her home this weekend!

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