Monday, April 6, 2009

Tribute to a lady turtle

This weekend our pet turtle passed away. She was twenty-two years old.

A painted turtle, Trickle arrived in our household shortly after I was born. Because she was obviously born prior to our purchase, she may have been slightly older than me. At the time of her arrival, Trickle was about the size of a dollar coin. My mother thought that she would stay that size forever, and smitten with her cuteness, even bought a little turtle playground for her with miniature plastic palm trees and buildings and bridges.

Obviously, many people thought the same thing because once their turtles grew up, they began setting them free in the wild. For this reason, painted turtles can no longer be purchased from pet stores as they are considered an invasive species.

As it turned out, Trickle doubled in size many times, finishing the last decade or so of her life at about the size of a pair of sneakers. In her younger years, she enjoyed sunbathing on the rocks in her tank and chasing down fish to eat. She also got me through many "share a fun fact about yourself" icebreakers.

Here's a fun fact: turtles are cold blooded and are intended to hibernate in the winter. In order to make them do this, a special dark box needs to be constructed in which they can weather their season of slumber. The alternative is to keep the tank heated in order to maintain their metabolic state year-round. Trickle loved to attack her water filter and heating apparatus, and the latter broke twice before we gave up. We were also disinclined to build her the equipment that she needed to hibernate, so she spent many winter seasons in a hypo-metabolic torpor.

One year as a treat, we bought her some fish to chase down and eat. We occasionally liked to provide her with this extra stimulation. She quickly hunted and slew her pray. However, because it was cold and she was not particularly hungry, she left their carcasses alone to rot. We stopped buying her fish after that.

After twenty-two years in our family - twenty-two years of being gawked at, poked, and prodded (but well loved) - Trickle passed away in her sleep and was found semi-buoyant in her tank on Sunday. I asked my father what he planned to do with her, and he was already in the process of throwing her into the organic waste recycle. Needless to say, I protested. When my siblings descend upon Toronto for the Easter long weekend, we'll give our dear turtle a proper interment. As my sister so poignantly put it, "We should bury her, not put her in the garbage."

4 comments: said...

Rest in peace old hag, rest in peace. Typical asian parent response to a pet (same with me). My cousin just put two of them in a tank with no heated water or pump, just tap water. They kept growing like crazy it was insane. I didn't know I needed to construct a box for them during winter wtf just leave them they will never feel uncomfortable. Tap water sewer water toilet bowl it's good yo.

teddy once had a turtle too said...

I'm glad I got the opportunity to poke her before... it was too late. R.I.P

swirls123 said...

I am sorry for your loss. She was a cool turtle. I am glad I was able to meet her. :)

sandlot said...

Ah your turtle seemed cool. Too bad she isn't alive today. I'd like to have played with her.

Of course, by playing, I mean spinning it constantly while it's laying on its shell. So on second thought, maybe it's a good thing she's gone now. RIP.