Tag Archives: pet turtles

Mr. Nature: Mata-Mata Turtle

Jambo! Mr. Nature here, with the odd mata-mata turtle from South America, which occasionally shows up in the pet trade. Years ago, they had one at Noah’s Ark Pet Shop in East Lansing, but it wasn’t for sale. The shop’s owner had a lot of animals not for sale: he found it hard to part with them.

How does the mata-mata snap up fish so fast (and he never misses)? When he suddenly opens his large mouth, water rushes in so hard that the nearest fish gets washed in with it. I can’t think of any other animal that does this.

Note: I no longer keep pets that require live food. My painted turtle did just fine, sharing my suppers–and that’s how I wound up with a tankful of pet crickets. To me, goldfish are pets and nice companions, not turtle food.


Yes, Turtles Can!

You asked for it, Erlene, so here it is–a turtle climbing up a sheer wall.

I know I originally promised you the sight of a box turtle climbing a fence, and there are plenty of videos on that subject. But I didn’t want to post any video of the turtle falling down. Turtles are very good at climbing up a fence, but they’re just not built for climbing down.

My box turtles, when I was a boy, were always climbing up the fence around their turtle pen. Moving it to a cinderblock wall did no good; they climbed the cinderblock, too. Replacing the chicken-wire with bricks: no help, they climbed up the bricks. Turtles may look clumsy, but they have sharp claws, they’re immensely strong for their size, and they have both patience and determination. Those are assets that’ll get you to the top.


A Fond Memory of My Diamondback

No, not a diamondback rattlesnake! A diamondback terrapin–one of the best little turtles in the world. Tame, friendly, lots of personality: well, sure, all turtles are wonderful. But these are kind of hard to get, and that makes them special.

In my turtle tank, as a boy, I had my diamondback (very similar to the one in the video), a painted turtle, a small snapping turtle, and a tiny musk turtle the size of a nickel. I always fed them all by hand, and they liked that.

One night I left their tank outside and it overflowed during an unexpected rainstorm–and all my turtles were gone.

Would you believe it? Every single one of them made its way back. Snappers are pretty good on land, and it took mine two weeks to come home: he must have wandered very far afield. But they all came home. Who would’ve thought it?


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