Gopher SnakeIt’s reptile and amphibian central around here. To the left is a three-foot gopher snake (not poisonous) that I almost ran over on my bicycle the other day. It was kind enough to hang out on the pavement while I took some photos though, and then casually slithered off into the grass.

And turtles! John had two red-eared sliders in a 55 gallon tank when he lived in Brooklyn. When we moved out to the west coast, his brother inherited the turtles, plus their sister’s turtles as well. One of their sister’s turtles turned out to be male, and at least one of the female turtles was constantly trying to get out of the tank, probably to lay eggs or something, making a horrible racket. Then, since his brother just moved to a new place, he really couldn’t keep them anymore, so he UPSed all three female turtles out to us, overnight. (In a lovely piece of synchronicity, we arrived at the post box just as the UPS truck pulled up.) When we told the guy what was in the box he was shocked, “There are TURTLES in there?????” – it was pretty funny.

Anyway, the turtles arrived safe and sound… and they are HUGE. Their shells are at LEAST 8-9 inches long. We put them in our garden enclosure (chicken wire) with a small plastic pond, next to the few tomato plants. This is actually a plastic ‘under-the-bed’ box that we got last year when John rescued a ton of tadpoles from our quickly drying river. Anyway, we’ve been checking on them every half-hour of so, since only one of them seemed content to hang in the water while the others prowled around the enclave.

A little while before sunset, we went out to check on them again, and counted ONE turtle. I saw movement in the grass about 20 feet away, OUTSIDE the enclosure, and there was one of them… getting away at breakneck speed – LOL. Then we found the other one sort of half-in, half-out, in the place where the other one had apparently gotten out. She was being really still, probably hoping we wouldn’t notice her all tucked inside a few layers of chicken wire.

To make a long story a bit shorter, we’re VERY happy that the silly plastic under-the-bed box has a locking LID, and we’ve tucked them in for the night. This will help keep them where they’re supposed to be and also protect them from any prowling raccoons, who apparently love to eat turtles, according to sources. And, I have some photos (thought we’d never get there, didn’t ya – see if you can find the three turtles in the third photo – click on the thumbnail to go to the larger image):

TurtleTurtle Close UpTurtle Enclosure

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