Some of you are aware (if you know me in real life or have read my Home Page) that I have a yellow bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta) named Mochi. He was found in a helicopter hangar, quite far from his natural aquatic habitat, so really I should have named him something clever like “Hot Shot” (which is what DP calls him anyway) or “Maverick.” As I am not really too clever with names, I picked Mochi because he resembled, to me, a small green tea mochi.
This turtle is probably on course to be record-breaking size for his species; at the very least, his exponential growth in the 7 months since we’ve had him must be some kind of record. I don’t even know if turtles can be overweight, but I may have a clinical case of reptile obesity on my hands.
Anyone who has ever owned a turtle will tell you that they are neither cuddly nor easy to maintain. Not really an ideal pet at all, to be honest. I find them very cute, and this is my sole reason for agreeing to take in Mochi. I have a herpetologist at my disposal, and DP kept reptiles as a child, so I figured my chances at success were pretty good. Through trial and error (and a lot of research), I have learned that keeping pet turtles can be quite a headache. One thing is for sure though – we have raised a beast.
From the start, Mochi was strange. He was not afraid of humans and although he had never been in the wild for more than a day or two his entire life, he picked up on hunting prey very quickly. For example, he taught himself how to corral and beach minnows in order to eat them easier. Believe it or not, he even likes to show off with his many diving tricks. I will venture to say that Mochi has as much personality as a turtle is going to have. And an appetite to match.
Enter Peanut. A few weeks ago, we adopted another aquatic turtle that a neighbor left for dead. Reportedly, he was found around the same time as Mochi but has not grown at all since then. At first I thought he was also a yellow belly, but while they look nearly identical, Peanut does not have spots on his plastron. According to the herpetologist, this means he cannot be a yellow belly. So I think Peanut might be a river cooter.
I thought it was going to be relatively easy to introduce the two turtles into the same habitat. No. Peanut came with a bigger tank, which is convenient, as Mochi has quickly outgrown his 10-gallon aquarium. I put the two of them in the larger tank on the first day and Mochi, thinking everything that falls into the water is food, immediately chomped on Peanut’s shell.
Horrified, DP and I quickly separated them. Peanut did not appear hurt and, honestly, we were probably way more freaked out than him. Maybe if the size disparity between the two were not so drastic, I would consider letting them hash it out in the tank. But I was not willing to take the risk. So now I am faced with the challenge of keeping the two in separate tanks, which means separate basking areas, separate lighting, and possibly two filters… For 3 consecutive weekends, we have brainstormed different ways to keep them together but separate – and thus we have backslid into an era of turtle segregation.
Will Peanut get bigger any time soon? Will he be able to survive in a semi-aquatic world dominated by Mochi? Will we ever be able to introduce them into the same habitat? Can two turtles drive me into financial ruin? Find out, in this continuing saga that has become my free time.