Having grown up in a household with lots of pets (cats, dogs, rodents, fish), I know the basics of pet care. We even had temporary pets that my brothers would catch: grasshoppers, toads, caterpillars that we raised into butterflies, snakes. Each pet, whether it held a permanent or temporary status in the home, had its own special needs when it came to habitat and food (most of the temporary tenants remained in the garage or the backyard, but they were still well cared for).
When we were given pets here in Beijing, first some fish and later a rat, I suspected the care advice the previous owners had given us might not be quite right. In both cases, the habitats were too small. The fish were in a bowl that did not provide enough oxygen or space and the rat had an inadequate cage with the wrong kind of bedding. The more I researched our animals, the more things I found wrong, especially with the rat; even her diet needed to be drastically altered.
Naturally, when my daughter offered to pet sit two turtles over the winter holiday, I should have realized beforehand that their accommodations would not be up to the appropriate standard. Try as I might, I couldn’t ignore the situation. I found myself searching the interweb for appropriate turtle guidelines. Note, if you want to remain ignorant about how to care for pets, stay off the interweb. Everything for these two turtles was wrong: inadequate diet, inappropriate treats (dried shrimp are bad for this breed of turtle), woefully small accommodations, and even the gravel in their tank was the wrong kind. Sigh.
So I’m faced with a dilemma; do we buy the turtles a better vacation home, or do we simply change their water more often and ignore the rest of the situation? At the risk of insulting the pet owner, it looks like I will be shopping for a better turtle habitat just in time for Christmas. It was that, or look up some recipes for turtle soup and my daughter didn’t think that idea was funny.
Photo: smerikal (flickr)