Saturday, October 15, 2005

Meet Shelly II

A few years ago, while working on a project for TECO Energy's Clintwood/Elkhorn Coal Co., I found a baby snapping turtle on the Clintwood/Elkhorn site at Biggs, KY. Because of the area in which she was found, it was obvious she had experienced a trip through the processing plant. In through the pumps. Through the crusher. Through the washers. Through the entire plant. That was somewhat amazing, to say the least. She was about the size of a quarter when I found her, I put her in my lunch bucket and took her home with me that evening.

My step-daughter named her Shelly. The perfect name for a snapping turtle, but it was some time before I was able to determine that the name was "gender correct". (You can't just turn a turtle over, like a puppy, and know for sure. Well, you can, but the parts aren't there.)

She was a great addition to our pet family of several dogs. I kept her well fed on raw chicken, and the occasional crayfish that I would introduce into her aquarium in order to help with the "housekeeping". She would typically allow the crayfish to spend a few days cleaning up the tank, then she would clean the tank of crayfish. I then had to remove the crayfish shells.

After some time she was getting too big for the aquarium, so I released her into the creek in front of our home in Hurley, VA. I'm sure to this day she is regaling all the other snappers in Paw Paw Creek with stories about the time when she was royalty, and feasted on chicken, ham, hamburger, and cheddar cheese (a favorite) instead of minnows, tadpoles, and horney-heads.

Today, my brother-in-law gave me a present of a red eared slider which he found in the area that he hunts. She (don't ask, I know how to tell now, but like I said, it's not as obvious as it is with puppies) is now happily swimming in a new 10 gallon tank, into which I will introduce some fish soon. Don't worry, unlike snappers, red eared sliders are mostly vegitarian, and if well fed on vegitation or a commercial turtle food, will not eat their neighbors.

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