Reptile Rescue

Our new friend chilling in the grass at our nearby park.

Our new friend chilling in the grass at our nearby park.

What happens to our family when we take a Sunday stroll to the park to kill some boredom and get out some I’m-going-to-kill-my-brother energy? My oldest finds a shelled reptile meandering through the grassy field.

And all of a sudden the start to our summer turns into a turtle adventure.

Yes. He found a turtle – a yellow cooter house pet.

There we were just getting ready to leave when he walked ahead to go take a peek at the neighboring pond. He came charging back with something hard and round in his hand – the turtle.

Who leaves a turtle at a park? Who finds a turtle at a park? It was the craziest thing.

My oldest son holding the turtle.

My oldest son holding the turtle.

The boys begged me to keep it. That’s when I convinced them we could “rescue” it instead. I called the Ogden Nature Center, the local animal shelter and the Utah Reptile Rescue. But of course it was Sunday and none of them were open.

Not knowing anything about animals – especially turtles – I didn’t know if it was native to the nearby pond or if someone really did ditch it at the park. We ran across the street to our friends’ house and asked them if they had ever seen a turtle at the park or pond. When they said they hadn’t I made the crazy decision to take the turtle home.

The turtle, taking a ride in the bottom of our stroller.

The turtle, taking a ride in the bottom of our stroller.

And that’s how it ended up taking a ride in the bottom of the stroller. We walked it home, found a box for it and cut holes in the top. What on earth was I thinking? I guess I was just so happy it wasn’t a snake I took pity on the little thing.

I couldn’t bear to wonder if it would have died had we left it at the park. The thought of knowing we could try to save it propelled me forward.

We gave it some water – which it spilled all over the box – and a giant carrot and I crossed my fingers that I would be able to get a hold of someone to come “rescue” it in the morning.

First thing the next morning my boys were outside with the reptile. They took it for walks around the cul-de-sac, they chased it around our jungle back yard they paraded it around to everyone who came within a 50-foot radius of our house and they filled a plastic tub with water so it could swim around. They spent hours with that little guy.

Except for the moment that it nipped my oldest son’s pointer finger, they were having the time of their lives with it.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone to take it. The nature center said it needed a special permit to take a pet. They suggested I call the wildlife rehabilitation center. That center told me they don’t deal with reptiles. It suggested I call the “Ogden Turtle Lady” Nita Vono. Who knew there was an Ogden Turtle Lady? Sadly, she never got back to me.

We were stuck with the turtle at least one more night. My boys were thrilled. I was less than thrilled.

That first night we left him in a cardboard box in our backyard while we went to a barbecue. We didn’t get home until late and I thought I’d take him some lettuce as a snack.

One slight problem. He was nowhere to be found.

The turtle was missing!!! Seriously? Had it crawled out of the box? Did a dog sneak into our backyard and nap it? Did an eagle soar down from the sky and snatch it away?

Where in the world did it go? I was panicking. I searched the whole back yard with my cell phone flashlight at 11 p.m. trying to find it. If you’ve seen our new back yard you’ll know it was literally like searching for a needle in a haystack.

Many of you know I HATE losing things. Especially when I know my children are going to freak out when they find out it’s gone. I was stressed out all night.

The next morning I told the boys I had some bad news … the turtle was gone. It escaped. They were absolutely fine with that. They didn’t care one bit about the little reptile they had rescued and spent hours playing with.

I on the other hand was not going to let it die in my back yard only to find it later while doing yard work. As soon as we ate breakfast we headed into the back yard on a turtle hunt – half of us were still in pajamas.

I found him within five minutes tucked under a wild rose bush on the side of my house. It really is a miracle that I found him.

This time we put him in a taller, sturdier box and I called the turtle lady and the reptile rescue again. Thank heavens Utah Reptile Rescue answered.

They said they’d come get the little guy. Actually they were kind of excited. The man I spoke with said that they don’t see very many turtles like that anymore. He said they were going to keep it with about 400 of their other reptiles.

He also told me that there aren’t any turtles in Utah that are native to ponds. So it had to have been dropped off and abandoned by someone. My neighbor said she heard a news story several months ago urging people to stop dropping off their unwanted animals at our local pond. Apparently our turtle’s owner didn’t hear that story.

So there you have it, we found a turtle, we lost a turtle and we spent two days caring for, loving and playing with the green little shelled guy. Although we did find out it actually was a female. And its diet consists of worms not carrots. We’re hoping she’s chilling at a new pond with some new friends. Maybe she’ll find a husband and have some cute little turtle babies – all because my oldest spotted her in the grassy field of the park down the street. What an adventure.

The turtle in its taller, sturdier box.

The turtle in its taller, sturdier box.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Andy
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 00:12:48

    That’s a great little story. We have people calling us very often here locally. We are always more than happy to take in any reptile rescues that people find and/or need help with. Whether they have questions about the reptile or if they aren’t able to care for the reptile. Anyone that needs help with reptile rescues feel free to contact us at http://voraciousreptile.com/

    Reply

    • Natalie
      Aug 07, 2014 @ 08:39:04

      Andy, thanks for reading! This is great news. It was really hard to find someone to take in the turtle. I’ll keep you guys in mind if we encounter any other roaming reptiles, or if any of our friends do 🙂

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: