The Crazy Story of Our Turtle

I’d like you to meet Tyler, our old Red-eared slider turtle. He (or might be a she) has been quite a character in the many years he has lived with us. These days you won’t see many turtles as pets, so come see mine & his shenanigans!

Baby Red-Eared Slider from Pet Store

My Turtle Little History

A few decades ago, when my son was 4 we were playing with the idea of getting a pet. When I was young I was fortunate to get a tiny turtle with one of those plastic bowls with a little island. It seemed like the perfect pet; no noise, no hair, able to be taken out and ‘played with’. I was young but responsible and did take good of mine and he/she grew quickly – to the point of not fitting between the island and the wall.

I needed to upsize to a larger glass bowl. It becomes a problem since their feeding habits do make for some very messy water. My parents were not going to set up a huge filtration system, so just regular water cleaning took place.

I should have realized why my parents made me give mine up to the local Interpretive Centre at the Royal Botanical Gardens. It seemed like a good idea since I could visit it whenever we would go there for our usual sunday hikes. The centre had a huge tank and my turle also had some friends now.

Here We Go Again

I gave in to my sons pleading and took on a baby turtle round #2. I also had intentions of having an outdoor pond so it seemed like a plan. Again, plastic bowl was outgrown, then the aquarium became too much to repeatedly empty. He/she eventually transitioned to a laundry tub that could be kept clean and also had a light and sunning rock, easy cleaning.

Fast-forward 32 years and Tyler is still with us. Tyler gets to live outdoors in the pond during the warmer months. Since I live in Canada they are not indigenous here and he has not ever hibernated either so we really did not have an option but to keep him. I’ll be frank, turtles (mine at least ) are quite resilient & pretty easy going.

Tyler grew many times larger than the cute 1 inch size he was at first.

Red Eared Sliders are bred in captivity, they have never been in the wild. They can be fed pellets made for turtles or other vegetables and meat. Mine preferred meat like fish or even some live ones. He would spit up the carrots; and where would a turtle get carrots in the wild?! The summer was his favourite season spending much time basking in the sun on his rock island.

Do not worry, there is a wire cage that makes sure that he does not decide to wonder or be prey to any thing like raccoons or coyotes.

Whenever I would venture near the pond he would be rushing over in hopes of some feeding. I do think I see a smile on that face! Maybe it was more of a snicker of what he was planning…

The Great Escape

Turtles breathe air, they need to come up once in a while. I was near the pond and awaiting to see him come up from under his hiding rock… and waiting… and waiting…. Well he did not come up! So I took out my net and checked – NO TURTLE! Oh no! He has managed to squeeze under the metal cage somehow! I still do not know how he managed that with such a large shell.

Now what? I posted ‘Lost’ posters in the neighbourhood and warned the neighbour in case he decided that their fully stocked fish pond would be his next stop. I researched and it stated that they will instinctively travel ‘downhill’. Well, that could work for him but the downhill journey was going to be very treacherous! It is about a 1/2km of dense brush and trees, many old fallen trees and a host of predators! Oh no! I was so worried…

Barb goes on the Hunt

Well after no sighting in the civilized world I decided to go hunt the ‘jungle’, something I was reluctant since I have a fear of the coyotes i hear often. I worked my way through the dense underbrush and to a creek at the bottom. Our city has many waterfalls due to change elevation towards Lake Ontario. This section of creek was quite shallow, barely enough to cover a turtle shell so I wasn’t hopeful. Nope, no sign…

I headed the other direction of the creek, barely able to walk through the deep weeds. This is mostly untravelled land locked between subdivisions. I became hopeful since there was now a section of deeper water. It was murky and lacking of any fish that I could see.

I had to walk through the deep brush since it was too deep for my boots, and as I looked down at the side – there he was! He saw me and came close to the shore! I stepped in, way too deep over my boots (yuck) and he disappeared into the murky water! But fellow, I now know where you are hiding out!

Knowing where he is made me happy, but I needed to go back with a capture plan. He probably felt like he was on vacation; but I could not leave him there permanently, what would he eat? ‘No one was feeding him and not a fish in sight. To be environmentally responsible there turtles should not mix with the indigenous species of the area.

Going Home!

A few days later I took a fishing net back with me and he came up to shore when he saw me; a few tossed pieces of fish and I had him in the net.

‘Oh, this place again!’ he probably thought! There was no question this is our

A new extra secure cover was made for the pond; no chance of squeezing the shell through a gap.

I have always thought that they are so beautiful, such amazing patterns and stripes – perfect for some art inspiration.

Perhaps one day I may write and illustrate a children’s book based on this special pet. I hear these turtes can love into their 50’s.

Remember ‘Rockie’s Turtles’? ‘Cuff & Link’ are now 44 years old as Sylvester Stallone first featured them 1975! They have now also had cameos in all of the follow-up Rocky movies! They can live to 50! So, before you adopt a pet make sure you can handle the commitment! I do hope they take turtles in the retirement homes!

I know’s not a project to make, but he does enjoy the waterfall that has upgraded his pond to a 5-star turtle oasis – hopefully he will stay put!

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  1. Our local animal shelter posted an adoption page a few days ago. Three tortoises were looking for a new home since their owner had died (89). The eldest was 66 yrs, followed by a 57 yrs and a 44 yrs one. He basically had them his whole life and they outlived him. I always wanted a tortoise but since I am in my mid-50s now, I guess I will skip it. 😉
    I am happy for you that you found Tyler again.

    1. Oh wow! I have heard that tortoises live long, as do parrots. I hope they found a home. I once asked our big Toronto zoo if the wanted him but they declined. Well, I may be taking Tyler to the ‘old-age’ home with me. I wonder what their policies are?! 😉

      1. You have a lovely turtle, however im abit concerned that you are unaware of its “sex”. Seems abit odd that had after the years you never took *him/her* to the vet? Or get any advice on keeping them as a pet? They are very loyal and stubborn to a fault in there behaviours and habits, to me it seems he/she did run away knowing that the watering hole arrived at had nothing there for it to consume. I think the the turtle was very stressed and ran away to perform a turtle “seppuku” of sorts, I was very sad reading this, had you even named this prisoner?

        1. Oh yes, I have named him/her Tyler. The specie is not indigenous so I can not let it go free here. It is a florida red-eared slider and so Canada is not a place for it to thrive or interfere with the other species. Please do not be sad…

  2. Hi Barb , I Just read your’s and Tyler’s story . I too adopted à turtle and he’s à Joy to many (8 grandkids) Leo has been with us for 4 years now

  3. When we lived in Napanee, ON, we found some turtles in our pool. Being on acreage with many predators, we brought them in and made a home for them in a large aquarium. “Flip” and “Flop” (a nod to “Cuff” and “Link”) enjoyed many years with us. After a while, “Flip” didn’t make it, but “Flop” was thriving and growing. When it came time to move from the country to the city, we knew that “Flop” could not come with us. My kids were now in high school and soon University would be their new home. We contacted Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre and they were happy to have “Flop” come to live on their premises. We knew it was the right decision and I’m sure that “Flop” has made many new friends and is probably twice the size he was when we brought him in. He would be about 20 now.

    1. Oh, interesting! I wonder what type of turtle they are? Mine is a Red-eared slider but why would those end up in your pool from the wild? That is strange. I will keep that place in mind if I can get there. Thanks for the info and story! Here’s to Flop!

  4. We had a Musk turtle fir several years. Poor wee lil baby, fell into our pool and was caught in the current going in circles for no telling how long before I rescued her!!! I named her Tillie…and had her for 8 years. I came home to deed her one afternoon, and she was belly up and next to her was the oddest 2″ oblong white thing that I discovered was her egg, and learned they can struggle terribly, sometimes not surviving, and that was the case with my sweet Tillie…broke my heart, I cried over loosing her for days. I painted a set of rocks to resemble her shells and placed them over her little resting place in my garden…and think of her often. ♥️

    1. He’s such a character! I have a secret ambition to write a story and illustrate it! There, I said/wrote it; that’s one step closer to reality! What do you think???

  5. We had a red-eared slider, a male turtle that lived 19 years. He was very affectionate, liked to walk around and hide in my husband’s slippers, and would come when he was called. Much more active than a tortoise, he would alarm people by following them like a duckling. He was not a fan of turtle pellets, instead preferring shrimp, blueberries and salad. He was sweet-natured and liked to be rubbed on the small diamond shaped marking at the back of the top of his head. When he was alarmed or disliked something, he would hiss, which became part of the family language to mean “I don’t like this.”. He hated the shell conditioner I would use when he was younger (“turtle wax”) and always had his calcium block in his large tank. Finding a veterinarian was always interesting, because he was an “exotic”. Unfortunately at 19 he developed a tumour in one of his paws, which caused him to lose his toes and eventually killed him.

    1. Oh wow! I am so happy to hear that! I know mine comes to the side of the pond when he sees me but I didn’t think it was affection. That is such an amazing story. Mine eats a variety of unconventional things too. I admire the markings each time I’m close and I really should do as I said; write/illustrate a children’s book based on him!

  6. What a pretty boy! I love the story. I used to have tropical fish. When I downsized I donated all my equipment to a turtle rescue. When I was in the Southwest a few years ago I actually came across a dessert tortoise. A rare find I was told by a park ranger who had not seen one in the 10 years he’d worked in the park. Turtles and tortoises are my “helper” animals now.