One day a turtle wandered into our backyard. It was a six inch Terrapene Carolina Carolina, more commonly known as an Eastern Box Turtle. He or she (we never found out the sex) was very friendly and completely endearing. We kept him, out of concern for his safety. We didn’t know whether this was someone’s pet or wild. These turtles are indigenous to our end of New England. Our brownstone shared backyards with a row of houses that stretched from avenue to avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Who knows who might have picked him up as he roamed through the attached yards. We put him in a twenty-gallon fish tank, covered the bottom with sand, and fed him a variety of foods we thought might be part of a turtle’s diet. There was very little information about what turtles liked to eat in those pre-Internet days.
We tried crispy lettuce, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, bits of chop meat, celery sticks, broccoli shoots, and several different kinds of nuts. We even caught live insects, namely pill bugs, centipedes, houseflies, moths, cockroaches, wood ants, beetles, and even earthworms. Salad was always his favorite but we never saw him eat more enthusiasticly than when he had a giant, live cockroach for dinner. Meanwhile, I always kept an eye out for any turtle diet info I could find since the menu we’d created seemed somewhat hit or miss.
In the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bay Ridge I happened upon a very well kept pet store. They had a great selection of turtles, snakes and other reptiles. I described Sparky (that’s what we named him) to the proprietor and asked what this kind of turtle should eat. He replied, “If you’ve had this turtle for a year, as you say you have, and he isn’t dead, then whatever you’ve been feeding him is just fine.”
If you’re sheltering in place and you haven’t gotten covid-19 you have to ask yourself if that is because you’ve been doing the right things to prevent catching the bug, or you’ve simply been lucky? The pet shop owner would have said you’re doing enough.