For your right. To sunbathe. So says Bob. Or should I call him Beatie Boy Bob. I know I go on a lot about my turtles, all ten of them. And especially Bob. They’re such excellent pets. They just sit out there on the patio, minding their own business, perfectly happy so long as they’re fed regularly. I suspect their brains are pretty small, and their intelligence probably equivalent to their brain size. But when I’m out there in the yard smoking a cigarette, they give me a look. A look that suggests that in the hundreds of millions of years that turtle species have been on planet Earth, they’ve picked up a nugget or two of good info. A look that tells me they’ve decided I’m ‘ok’. Most human intrusions into the yard results in multiple splashes, as they pretty much simultaneously dive off their rock and seek cover underneath it.
It’s going to be hard parting company with them next year. They can’t come with me – UK law prohibits it. Most of them will have had their fifth birthday by then. That makes them old as far as the lifespan of the average pet turtle is concerned, but that’s because pet turtles are not taken care of properly. Most die within a few weeks. If given a good home, these little fellows can see their 30th birthday. Maybe even make it to 40. If Bob gets his full term, I’ll be 72 by the time he pops his clogs. In fact, he could well outlast me. That’s problem number one in finding him a new home – an owner prepared to keep the food coming in his direction over the long term.
But otherwise they are easy to please. Change their water once a week to ten days. Throw in the occasional calcium brick. Give them an occasional meat treat. And share looks over a cigarette. In the morning, they’ll climb, one by one onto the rock to sunbathe. Bob first, usually. They’ll jostle for the best sunbathing position. They love the sun, being reptiles and all. In the evening, once they’re certain the sun has gone for good and isn’t just hiding behind a cloud, they’ll slide back into the water. They’ll flirt a little with each other. And they’ll swim up to me when I appear at about 6pm. They know when food time is. The sight of a green bag packet being shaken tells them for sure, and they’ll start splashing around in excitement. They’ve picked up a nugget or two of info, for sure.