The babies are growing! As any good mom, I was worried they weren’t getting the right kinds of food. I don’t want to make them pets, so I don’t want them relying on commercially prepared turtle food. But I’m not prepared to release them yet either – I really want them to get just a tad bit bigger. So the challenge; to find a food to feed them that they will find in the wild.
Earthworms was a suggestion. I stopped by one of the local bait shops and asked for some small earthworms. I guess they only come in one size. Large. I told him they were for teeny, tiny baby turtles and asked if he had anything smaller. He said not to worry, they would eat them. He was wrong! They made friends. The worm lived in the water with them – swimming with them and winding around their little bodies like they were the best buddies in the world. But sadly, worms can only live in the water about three days before they perish and other than a few nibbles off the poor little dead body, the turtles mostly mourned the loss.
So, now I’m really stuck. The babies were over a week old and it was time for them to start eating and it needed to be something they would thrive on. I decided to take my husband’s suggestion and take them out to the pool.
On my front deck, I have one of those hard plastic kids’ pools. It catches rain water and all the frogs, (I love frogs, too), make tadpoles in the pool. Tadpoles equal more frogs. If it rains too much and the pool gets too full, I’m out there scooping water out of it – sometimes in the pouring rain. Tadpoles aren’t very smart and if the pool starts to overflow, instead of swimming to the middle of the pool, they fall over the edge and die on the deck. So…I scoop, and if it gets too low, I refill.
I love my tadpoles, so the idea of using them as fodder didn’t thrill me. On the other hand, my babies needed to eat. So, out to the big pool we went. At first, they weren’t the least bit interested, but one by one, they discovered the tadpoles and before long, everybody was eating….and eating….and eating. Turns out they LOVE tadpoles! It’s a delicacy.
So, for the past couple of days, I’ve been taking the babies out to the pool 2-3 times a day. I knew at the rate they were going, the tadpoles weren’t going to last! I had to find something else to feed them, so off to the bait store again.
This time I asked for some tiny fish. I swear, he rolled his eyes at me as he asked if these were for the turtles again! And then he said in his very thick southern accent, “Y’all oughta just head on out ta Otta Lake and catch ya some minnas.” And then he sold me a net!
Out to Otter Lake I go…with a bucket and my brand new net. Now, either this guy really thought I was after bigger fish or he’s sitting in some bar tonight telling his buddies about the net he sold some crazy turtle lady! The net has holes in it big enough for the tiny little minnows to slip through! I’d catch a couple only to have them fall back into the water before I got them to the bucket. A half an hour later, I have 9 minnows. I have 5 baby turtles….that’s 1.8 fish per turtle….I figured that was enough! I was done!
I get home, pour the fish into the pool, go in the house and bring out the babies and plop them in the pool…and nothing. Not only do they totally ignore the fish and start to eat the tadpoles, but now the fish are eating the tadpoles, too! Between the turtles and the fish, the taddies didn’t stand a chance! I knew I had to get the fish out!
So…after another fun time scooping, the fish are back in the bucket. I’ll try again tomorrow and if the turtles still aren’t interested, I’ll take the fish back out to the lake and let them go. And try to come up with something else! Babies gotta eat!
A couple pictures of them in the big pool! And a comparison shot. The night they hatched, I took a picture of one with a quarter. Took another picture with the quarter tonight. Yes….I’d say they’re growing!
And a short video clip. I could sit and watch these babies swim all day – they are just the cutest little things, but I know you’ve got better things to do….so I tried to keep it short – it’s just about 2 minutes.