Monday, September 29, 2008

Chelonian Sibling Rivalry

Poor Nemo. Actually Nemo is picking up some good behaviors in the name of protecting his territory. Last night Brian and I were laughing like kids watching our kids. Yesterday afternoon, Lucy had taken up residence again behind the summer home which is Nemo's staked claim. Nemo was using her to try to climb on top of the summer home. Payback. ooh ah ha ha.

Last night, Nemo got to the spot first and snuggled in for the duration. Lucy had the same intent. Brian made the discovery and I followed the sound of his chuckling. In spite of all of Nemo's efforts to remain in his spot, Lucy had crawled into the blanket tunnel coming up behind Nemo. At first we just saw the blanket moving. Then we saw Nemo moving--not of his own free will. Lucy was pushing him! We couldn't see if she was using her head or her front legs. We have seen her move the basking log with her legs. But Nemo was being thrust out from his tunneled haven inch by inch until Lucy had acquired the coveted spot.

If turtles can express humiliation, Nemo was doing it. Ooh he was upset. I moved him over to be under the summer home on top of the heating pad but he would have nothing to do with it. He skulked off to behind his igloo.

Yesterday he went to his food dish immediately after I placed it near him and he even took a bit. I didn't need to force feed him. Yay! It was only a few bites, but that's what he gets in the syringes. Lucy, on the other hand, can and will consume a pile of lettuce bigger than she is plus whatever veggies are laying on the bottom of the dish. And she'll do that twice a day. She's so friendly...hungry. I've been feeding her a snack by hand about 10 pm. Last night she climbed on the basking log to visit me. I just meant to pet her but she started going after my fingers. Hope she starts eating cuttlebone soon and filing her beak down.

My last fun news is how Lucy responded when I cleaned up around her with a Reptiwipe (safe for reptiles) moist cloth. She started turning around following my hand like a puppy as I moved the cloth. When I pulled the cloth in my direction on the floor for that final swipe before tossing it, she ran toward me so fast chasing it. lol. Didn't know a reptile would do that. She is so fast. Slow and methodical are not the terms I would use for this little tortoise.

It's fun having the new diversion and watching Nemo become interactive, even if it's only for revenge and defense. At one point yesterday, both were behind the summer home snuggled in and facing each other with about an inch between their noses. hehe. This saga to be continued. This "face off" is happening in an area where I can't get a good shot with either the camcorder or the camera!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chelonian (relating to turtles & tortoises)

Brian captured the image of Lucy on top of Nemo. Nemo's probably wondering what the heck is up with that? We made some bonding headway today. After eating a huge meal of greens and some fruit, Lucy scurried over to Nemo's food dish and began to chow down. Nemo was curious and stood next to his food dish trying to touch Lucy's nose but pulled back into his shell as soon as she moved...and she squirms a lot. At least it got Nemo near his food dish.

Late afternoon, Lucy got her fruit and leafy green snack. Nemo stomped over and stared her down. lol. He stood his ground and she backed away from her own dish. Guess that was Nemo setting some boundaries. He then stood on his basking log as if to say "Mine!" before assuming his claimed space burrowed in the blanket behind his summer home. The next time I checked on the little critters, they were both sleeping behind the summer home. Awww. Not snuggled, but sharing space peacefully.

Lucy happily eats food out of my hand but she has a sharp beak! Omg, I hope she starts to gnaw on cuttlebone soon! She has also nibbled at my toes which have bright pink nail polish and probably look like a treat. She's being fun and Nemo seems okay. Next week when Nemo has a vet appointment, Lucy will have her toenails trimmed. They are huge!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nemo's little friend

Nemo is still being monitored and his next vet appointment is next week. He is now bathing on his own each morning, sometimes with a little help. But he does his complete Zen bath and we haven't had to place him in the inescapable soaking tub for about a week. He has also been eating most of three shrimp every other day. I still give him 2 ml of baby food with his vitamins mixed in to make sure he's getting the proper nutrition.

With Nemo's lethargy, possibly empathy pains from my lethargy (?), we've talking about getting him a companion. We didn't want another box turtle because of aggression with another mail and mating with a female. While looking for live earthworms at Petco a week ago (ewww), we saw two Russian tortoises. Their care was nearly identical to Nemo's. Brian and I bantered back and forth about it. What if they didn't get along? What if it helped Nemo by having another creature who was eating and running around being curious in his territory? Pros...cons. Yesterday, we made the decision.

Lucy (name goes with Linus and Schroeder) is our new addition. She is one fast little tortoise. She is much lighter than Nemo even though she looks stocky. Her shell is the size of my palm and I am the size of an average 11-year-old. First there was curiosity on Nemo's part while Lucy hid inside an igloo prepared with reptile bedding and misted moss. Nemo knew something was in his territory. He was funny stalking around. He finally gave up looking and went into his big garage. Lucy came out of hiding, saw Nemo in the garage, and raced toward him literally bumping her nose into his side. I'm not sure if she was trying to snuggle or climb on top of his shell, which we later learned is a penchant of hers. In any case, Nemo wasn't about to budge. He just stood his ground and the two remained under the garage napping.

Later, when Nemo relocated to behind his summer home, Lucy once again ran over to him and climbed atop his shell perched there like it was her safe place. Nemo wasn't amused but didn't fight it either. Each found their own sleeping spots last night and stayed there till I came down this morning. Lucy likes being on the basking log. Nemo prefers his snuggly blanket under the summer home and now with a warming pad. Lucy voraciously ate a grape and then a piece of watermelon. I moved her food dish with a huge pile of leafy greens near her but she ran for cover under the iguana. About an hour later when I checked on her, her dish was empty except for a single blueberry. I guess blueberries are out. lol. Nothing wrong with her appetite.

And so the adventure begins. Will Nemo warm up and befriend Lucy? Or will he continue to tolerate her presence? Either way, it looks to be a good fit. Lucy is young enough not to be afraid of people. I think she's going to enjoy being handled and possibly follow us around. Russian tortoises only get to be 8-10". More to come. Will try to be more active with posting. I especially would like a photo of Nemo and Lucy together.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Linus singing to the sheep.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More vitamin B & force feeding

Nemo lost weight :-( Dr. Amy gave him another shot of Vitamin B and showed us how to force feed him. Thank goodness it didn't involve a torturous looking device I saw in the box turtle care manual. I used to give medicine to and force feed bunnies so I have the technique down. Brian holds Nemo and I hold the syringe of food and try to coax him to open his mouth. I think he was actually hungry this morning so he opened his mouth fairly often and easily. Second and third feedings today was a lot of patience on my part and a lot of resistance on his part.

We are feeding him a mixture of baby foods: turkey, corn, peas and a vitamin enriched canned food for sick cats and dogs. mmm, yum. At least we KNOW food is in his tummy now. The objective is to get his digestive system going normally and then good eating habits will kick in. The veterinarians conferred and believe Nemo may be much older than the 10 years we were told. He could be going into a natural "geriatric" mode. Except that doesn't explain his very active behavior a year ago.

Our next appointment is in two weeks. If Nemo isn't better by then, Dr. Amy wants to take an X-ray to see if something else is going on. I sure hope that's not the case.

Does anyone remember the Maypo commercials? Here comes the airplane...... Nemo was not happy in the above photo.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nemo Health Update

Tomorrow is Nemo's follow up appointment with the vet. His skin looks amazingly better from his daily soaks which he detests. After his forced 20 minutes in the tub, he stomps around the living room trying to find new routes. How does he know there's a step up there? He almost made it but the penguin fell over.

He has made his personal track around the back of the sofa and twice he has stayed overnight in the living room nestled under a stuffed animal.

His appetite hasn't changed unfortunately. I've offered him Can o' Snails, Can o' Worms, the live caterpillar, and a grub. Brian found him a grasshopper today. He just stares and follows its movement in wonder at the little creature(s). He is accepting an occasional shrimp but ignoring all other healthy offerings. Am guessing he will have at least a second vitamin B shot.

He's still our same turtle with the big attitude. Wonder how we will stop him from hibernating this year. He can't possibly be allowed to hibernate when he hasn't been storing up the food like he did last year. Lots of questions for the vet.

While scouring the pet store for some new turtle treats, I passed the display of bunnies who were all gathered under a log hutch. I thought Nemo would like it. It bends into whatever shape you want. Fully arched, it doesn't provide that smaller safety hide that he likes. So I flattened out the side. Possibly he will climb up to visit the dino :-) More news after his vet appointment.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Nemo vs. Caterpillar

While pruning in my garden today, I found a big yellow fuzzy caterpillar. Normally I hate insects but I recall playing with caterpillars when I was younger. So, contrary to my basic nature, I allowed the fuzzy wuzzy to crawl in my finger. It looked really beautiful when it walked--a big fuzzy ripple. As much as I do try to preserve life, I would rather introduce a caterpillar to Nemo than a live worm.

Nemo was inside burrowed completely under his blanket in line with the heater wafting over him. I lifted up the blanket and placed the caterpillar next to him. The fuzzy guy promptly began to climb the baseboard and headed right in front of Nemo on the baseboard. Nemo caught sight of it and perked up. He watched it intently as it wriggled back and forth. The caterpillar, apparently not viewing Nemo as a threat, wandered back and sort of hung out near Nemo. So much for that.

During Nemo's daily soaking, I introduced the caterpillar on a sprig of the plant it had been climbing on when I caught it. Once again, Nemo showed curiosity and even placed his beak to barely touch the fuzziness. I think he just didn't know what to make of it. While flopping around in his forced bathing container, the little fuzzy guy decided to swim after Nemo. Nemo swam for his life. lol. "Ewwww! It's coming after me!" Then tragically, the caterpillar got swept up in the undercurrent created by Nemo's thrashing.

It was a noble sacrifice. The caterpillar was laid to rest in Nemo's food dish along with the pink flower. We're fairly certain it will not be a meal. Nemo has the response to eating normal turtle food that we have to eating insects. Guess I don't blame him. I would have been so very happy though if he had eaten it. I'm so worried about him still not eating. Next vet appointment is a week from Thursday.