Grandma to Turtles?

In class, my daughter was dubbed “Clumsy Turtle,” which has led to a near obsession the past few months of all things turtle related:

A collection of turtle trinkets is forming. This is one we found at the local coffee shop.

Naturally, she wants a pet turtle.

I really REALLY don’t want another pet. I mean I want them in the fact that having a new pet is exciting. But a turtle? They don’t look the snuggly type. And does she want a turtle because she loves the creatures, or is she infatuated with her nickname connection to them?

To figure that question out, I bought some time and told her that she needed to do some serious research on turtle care and wait awhile to see if this was still what she wanted. That same day, my daughter blew through my room, her laptop in hand. She had compiled a list of detailed care instructions for the three most common varieties of pet turtles. (I say compiled because she straight up no shame in her game copy and pasted things without citing references. Have I taught her nothing?!) At the bottom, she had itemized a cost of all the supplies. The only thing she couldn’t find was how much the turtle themselves cost, otherwise, it was incredibly thorough.  

We drove to three pet stores the next day. One was nearby. No turtles. The second one we went to was larger, but even they had no turtles. My daughter asked a clerk why. He said that they had received an order of turtles, but they couldn’t sell them. Not until Saturday, which also happened to be their annual Reptile Rally. The turtles would be 50% off then. Finally, we went to a smaller pet store. And they actually had a turtle!

Which is where I saw some information that my daughter conveniently left off of her list of information. Turtles can live up to 25 years! Say what now?!

That’s a long shelf life!

The next step was to call our vet and see if they cover turtles. I assume they do. Their logo has a bunch of animals, turtles included, so it would be a major case of false advertisement if they didn’t. However, I expect full and complete leg work of my child if she expects to bring a new life into this home.

Meanwhile, I started some research of my own. I learned that the reason that the second shop couldn’t sell their turtles to us was because they were red eared sliders, which are considered an invasive species in my state. I know that I should be concerned by that, but I’m not going to lie: When I heard that, I thought why can’t I just go and find some in the wild then and save $40? I kid…

My next set of research was to see if there were any turtles in the local shelters. There weren’t, but there is an organization a state away called Turtle Rescue League. On their page, they state that red-eared sliders are the most abandoned pet in the country- which if I’m being honest makes me very sympathetic to the idea of getting one now. You poor, abandoned creatures!

On the other hand, if that sucker lives 25 years, it IS like bringing another child into the home. In fact, we talked about how our dog and cats are like children to me, in that their needs will sometimes have to supersede my own. On our way to day camp today, I stressed that this turtle will not be her sibling. It will be her first “child,” and I expect her to give it that level of care. I said I’d treat it like a grandchild, spoiling it and watching it when she needed me to, but at the end of the day, that turtle is going home with its momma…

Photo curtesy of

There is a knowledge digestion period that we’re now in. We must let all the information we’ve learned sink in before making a decision, which kids have a hard time doing. Everything must be NOW! Let’s face it, that’s probably why so many turtles are abandoned.

I have a feeling though that before the summer is out, I’ll be a grandma to a reptile.


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