Sunday, September 26, 2010

our triplet turtles

This past Friday, I took the day off of work. The intention was that I would have some time to spend with the children, while also doing some much-needed moving in activities, i.e., finding a new dentist and locating the box with all of my socks that have been MIA for three weeks.

Soon after I walked the kids to the bus stop, and returned home and served Henry his third bowl of Cheerios in an hour, our door bell rang. It seems that one of our awesome neighbors, found three tiny turtles as he was cleaning out his pool filter.


He was certain that the turtles would drown if he didn't scoop them out, so he rescued them in his blue pool bucket.


Then, he walked them over to our house because we have a creek in our backyard that he thought we could release them in to. But the moment he handed those turtles to us, we kissed goodbye any productivity we had slated for the next four hours.


When they arrived on our doorstep, they were hardly moving.

So we quickly swung in to action.

First, we Googled, "What do turtles eat?"

And then, we ambushed our lettuce supply.

Then, we scurried down to our creek.


Only to realize that the creek was mostly dry.


So we collected some rocks and leaves and sticks.


And filled the bucket with whatever creek water we could find.


And then we brought our tiny turtles back to our house so we could watch them.

And watch them.

And watch them some more ... while wondering if the reason they weren't moving is because they'd all died?


They are so tiny, neither Charlie nor I wanted to release them to the wild until they're just a little bigger. Not that we know the first thing about raising turtles - except they like green leafy vegetables - but we felt like we could at least protect them from being eaten.


What seemed like 10 minutes later, the children were home from school.


And our children, who want a pet more than any children who have ever lived in the entire history of the world, were interested to see that we now have three critters under our care.


"Interested" might not be a strong enough word choice.


The rest of the day was spent supervising the children so that they didn't love the little turtles straight to heaven. And later, when I heard little footsteps pitter-pattering down the hall at midnight, 2:00 AM, 3:45 AM, 4:36 AM, 5:17, 5:18 and 5:20 AM, followed by hushed squealing, I stumbled out of bed to see the kids sitting around the bucket and singing lullabies.


Despite the fact that they lack hair/fur and aren't the most cuddly of creatures, these little turtles are nameable. Please meet Terrence, Flower and Sprigitiz, who also goes by the name of Butterfly.


Flower is very sleepy.


Terrence crawls all over the place.


Sprigitiz, who also goes by the name of Butterfly, is somewhat shy.


We will definitely be setting our triplet turtles free in to the wild.


But probably not until 2022.


  1. Cute!! I love your blog!! Just hoping your kids are washing up well, since we learned the hard way that turtles carry salmonella. Thanks for all your wonderful writing - I am a faithful reader in CA!

  2. Oh my goodness they are soooo adorable!!! I don't know all the details but have been told on numerous occasions that turtles are packed full of diseases so remember to wash wash wash after handling them.

  3. turtles/ terrapins are the only pets I will not allow my kids due to the salmonella risk. Did you check that out yet? Just wanted to post this since your neighbour surprised you with them and maybe you aren't aware they aren't the best pets for young children. (I have read articles that say they are fine so long as you enforce good hygiene practices)>

  4. The turtles are very cute! I would be concerned about salmonella poisoning. Pet turtles are not recommended for children under 5 for this reason so I would have a very strict rule about hand washing after playing with the turtles. Stay safe!

  5. Cute! Those names sound very close to what would be thought up at our house too. :)

  6. Yay! Turtle can make really, really interesting pets. We've cared for a few - including one that was dumped into my lap when it was smaller than a quarter.

    If you are going to be keeping them for a while, you'll want to get a decent setup for them - LARGE aquarium, a good filter and (vitally important) lights. I would guess that part of their inactivity was due to how cold they were. I can't find the link, but the one thing that sticks ut to me from all my research is that anything under 75 degrees farenheit was termed "kill zone" because it's not really warm enough for the turtle to get enough heat out of its environment to eat and function properly (although I was dealing with red eared slider). My tank setup, and our ambient house temperature, required either an undertank heater (in my initial 20 gallon setup) and a water heater in my 75 gallon (expansion tank).

    Turtles are frequent carriers of salmonella, but with proper mangement the risks can be lessened. Lots of hand washing should be part of care.

    You may want to do a little research on the turtles. They might be spotted turtles which according to: ( are illegal to collect or possess without special permits. Although if they are spotted turtles, they're going to stay relatively small with a max size around 5 inches, as opposed to the 12+ inches of a slider.

    I'd be happy to help out with any setup questions you have if you decide to keep them.

  7. Great, what wonderful pets for the children. Perhaps you can pick up a fish tank for them at the Goodwill store? I am sure your neighbor would be happy to see the pictures of the rescue.

  8. Oh wow ... doesn't it seem like another sign that this neighbor just happened upon THREE itty bitty adorable turtles. How fun!

  9. Sitting around the bucket singing lullabies had to be the sweetest moment to see. The Trips singing to the Trips just adorable.

  10. On my 1th birthday I found a turtle while on vacation in Myrtle beach SC. It was the size of a dime. I had it until I was 20, it had grown to the size of a half dollar. Unfortunately I think a cat helped it out of its bowl at that point... BUT! I can tell you that there are turtle food pellets that you buy-- and a jar will last you YEARS... good luck!

  11. Haha try cantaloupe with the little turtles. They LOVE cantaloupe! Or at least my desert box turtle did! Also many a turtle carries salmonella so just be sure to wash little hands post snuggle. :)

  12. LOL. 12 years ago we found a baby turtle that was the same size as yours. We named him Speedy and put him in a tank that is filled half with water and half with rocks and water plants.
    12 years later he is bigger than my husbands hand. He is very personable. He eats the turtle food from the pet store. As well as a calcium stick. I tried lettuce but he ignored it.
    He also eats other fish we put in the tank.

  13. Those are the cutest little critters! I would have trouble staying in bed all night, if I knew those turtles were staying down the hall, and I'm a lot older than 5.

  14. I just love the turtle story, they really are cut. I am so glad your having the children help you paint. Uncle Bill always let ours paint, usually closets, and they were not neat as Gracie is. One day I came home to find George, at four years old, covered really covered with paint. The story? Billy age six, painted his red hair white. Where was dear old Daddy? Laughing his head of at the two of them. Stay neat and please watch that paint brush!

  15. Ha ha. So cute. What a great experience for your children!
    You may want to check your state wildlife laws, some states it is not legal to keep wild turtles. Also, even if it is legal to keep them as pets, you might want to verify the type of turtle to make sure they are not snapping turtles (i.e., pretty darned hazardous to fingers as they get larger). Box turtles however are harmless. And do be aware wild reptiles can harbor salmonella.

    At my parents' house we once found a nest of little bunnies in one of the basement window dugout/well things. My youngest brother was 5 at the time. We kept catching him with little bunnies in his pockets. Your post reminded me of this, and brought a smile to my face.

  16. Christina(pa)9/28/10, 8:36 PM

    These are fabulous pics! I shared them with my 5 yo daughter and she first thought they were cookies - after laughing I quickly educated her. Hope the new family members have survived the love fest!

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