The next thing that is critical to understand about a pet turtle (or at least a Red Eared Slider) is that they really need a filter. Upon making a trip to my local pet mega-store, I was told that Red Eared Sliders “poop a lot” and that the tank water can become dirty pretty quickly without a decent filter. This fact became evident after the turtle lived in a filter-free tank for about 72 hours. It was becoming difficult to believe that I was single-handedly responsible for the murky broth of a turtle toilet that was now situated in the corner of Owen and his brother Jack’s bedroom.
I won’t bore you with stories of the three different filters I purchased before finding one that works. However, as I struggled to identify a decent filter, I did view a YouTube video dedicated just to this subject.
This particular turtle fanatic vehemently recommended a pond filter. If you haven’t seen a pond filter before, as I hadn’t, they resemble the over-sized garbage cans you probably have outside of your house. Owen and Jack sleep in bunk beds in small room that already features a tank of tropical fish. To accommodate the turtle and a filter that was nearly double the size of the tank, I was thinking we might need to eliminate the books. I mean, seriously, their teachers really tend to over-emphasize this whole reading thing. Who needs it? I’m sure the two of them would be quite content sleeping in the glow of the tank lights, listening to the gentle gurgling of the filters and smelling that slightly marshy, low tide scented air.
Since a pond filter was out of the question, Tom cleverly figured out a way to rig a normal fish filter by taping it to the glass halfway down the tank so it could come into contact with the water. Phew. It was a miracle. And thus the turtle paradise was created.
A few days later, while visiting Nantucket, we had the good fortune to get up close and personal with a pretty big snapping turtle, which made Owen’s whole weekend. Luring a snapping turtle is similar to the way one can catch a blue crab—by dangling a raw chicken foot tied to a long string into the water.
We had a whole pack of chicken feet for this purpose, but really only needed to use 4 or 5 to view the impressive snapping turtle. It was like our own private jungle safari, free of charge aside from the $2.63 for the purchase of the disgusting chicken feet. When it came time to depart from the snapping turtle pond, we left our chicken feet and string by the side of the water for the next lucky turtle hunters to use.