I Am Ten

This blog has been knocking around a few years now. The last five years it’s been maintained more out of habit that anything else. And it’s a habit that is becoming less frequent with time. But it’s been going more than ten years. So the title is not about the blog. If you were loitering in this part of the world wide web back in my Mexico days, you might remember that this blog focused on three main subjects. Documentation of my adventures in Mexico. Dubious sponsored posts for dodgy Rolex watches and vaginal rejuvenation surgery. My turtles, and their adventures. Well….as far as turtles living in an inflatable pool in a back yard can have adventures.

It’s tricky to write on those three subjects with any regularity these days. I no longer live in Mexico for one. And the sponsored post market has dried up. Perhaps all the vaginas have now been rejuvenated. And the turtles have gone on to new homes. But perhaps, just perhaps, you are wondering whatever became of them. I keep in touch once every so often with the chap who took on Bob, Baby, Itchy and Scratchy. You might remember that Bob was the first of the turtles. The daddy of the pond. My favourite. I think he quite liked me too. Maybe.

Bob is now ten years old. There we are, the title of the post makes sense now, huh? In human years, he’s about 20ish. About time he got a job instead of lounging about in the sun all day. He won’t of course, but he’s doing very well, as are the other three. I believe they still get their favourite treat of barbacoa every now and again. But anyway, he’s got plenty more years in him if all goes well. In captivity, the little critters can live for 35 to 40 years. So if you’re thinking of a new pet, but are tired of the heartbreak of having to bury them every decade or so, well a turtle is for you. Look after it, and it’ll be an heirloom that you pass on. They’re quite good diggers actually, so they could even help bury you.

I just thought you might like to know….



Three Turtles Less

I’ve just passed the ten month mark since my departure from Mexico. I’m hoping, even with a worst case scenario, that I’m beyond the half way point. There’s less time to go till my return to Mexico since my leaving the place. The UK has had its ups and downs for us. But truth be told, we both rather wish we’d stayed out. I’ve even started buying lottery tickets for the Saturday draw. The jackpot would be nice, but I’m not greedy. Just £5,000 would do fine. Even as little as £3,000 would do. And we’d be on a plane in a jiffy.

If my mood seems sombre, there’s a reason for it. When I said goodbye to Mexico, I also had to say goodbye to my turtles. All ten of them. There are those who think my (our…Paola is just as besotted) passion for turtles a little strange. But like most things, once you get familiar, get to know your subject and spend time appreciating the subtle little intricacies that would be missed at first glance….well, you know what I mean. Maybe. But I spent the best part of six years with them. You grow attached. Form bonds. That sort of thing.

The turtles were divided into two groups. Six of them went to a new home in the south of the city, to a family who needed a pet or two to spoil. We’ve just recently found out, to our distress, that three of them died in September, of reasons unknown. Homer, Mr Patel and little Florecita. All gone to turtle heaven. The last photos I took of them are below, from my set on Flickr called, aptly, Turtles Final Photo Shoot. Or you can just enlarge the image below. From left to right, Florecita, Homer and below them Mr Patel.

They all had their own unique characters. If you took the time to observe them. Homer, along with Bob, was the first turtle we bought. We’d always thought Homer the loveable simpleton of the group. Just like his cartoon namesake.  Mr Patel spent most of his existence living in a perpetual state of unnecessary terror. Until, perhaps, the end, when it may have been necessary. And then there’s Florecita. Dear Florecita. Rescued when she was no bigger than a two peso coin, and in a terrible shape. Her legs were so thin you could see her bones, her shell was sponge soft and falling to pieces and she was too weak to even eat. I spent a month hand feeding her with tuna, and shelled out $100 in vets bills when she had to spend a few nights in turtle hospital to recover from a respiratory infection. But she got better, and turned into one of the friendliest and most boisterous of the bunch. Poor Florecita. She even starred in my last turtle video, the Pond of Eternal Stench – she’s the one posing for the camera at the very end.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Alas, turtles are sensitive creatures, and easily succumb to infections and predators. I never had a turtle die on me, not one. And I’m proud of that. But I was also lucky. Bob nearly died of a respiratory infection when he was a babe, because we mistook his pained wheezing for an ability to speak. Then there was the time I got a shock when I put a finger in their water – the electric heater had broke and was streaming a light current through the water. Mr Patel had more than a couple of close scrapes, including being accidentally thrown out with the dirty water once. That was Mrs P’s pops, not me. I always do a headcount. You can never be too sure. But anyway. We found Mr Patel buried in the flower bed when we got home the next day.  They all managed to survive whilst in my custody. And Angus, Rosita and Angel are still alive and kicking. One hopes.

The other four, Bob, Baby, Itchy and Scratchy all went to one of my friends, a chap who’s experienced in keeping turtles. More experienced even that I. One day, in the not too distant future, we shall return to DF and bring them back home. Along with Angus. One day soon we’ll be able to come home and see them outstretched, posing superman-style, on their basking rock in the yard. One day soon. Till then he’s one more photo of Homer. When he was but a few days old. He’s the one on the top. To finish on a positive note, Homer did make it to a grand age of six.  Which was well short of his 30 to 40 year potential. But a whole lot better than the miserable, short and often painful existence of most poor turtles sold in pet shops in Mexico City. Adios for now, my little green amigos.

Cover Me


The Gang

Had you thought you’d seen the last of them here on my little virtual corner of the world? Well, there’s more to come. My ten turtles all found new homes. Angus, Rosita, Mr Patel, Angel, Homer and Florecita were all adopted by one of Paola’s friends. They’re having a fine time, apparently.

Bob, Baby, Itchy and Scratchy were adopted by one of my friends, in the north of the city. I get regular photo updates from that bunch. They seem to be as happy as they ever were. Generally speaking, providing they have water to swim in, sun to bathe in and food to indulge in, they are happy.


The Favourite

Do I have a favourite turtle, of the ten living in my yard? It’s tough to choose. Bob has always had the most character. Florecita took an awful lot of TLC and cash to save her from an early grave when we rescued her. Paola’s favourite is Angus. And then there is Baby, the turtle with the least imaginative name.

Of all the turtles, I am her favourite. The others respond to me in a variety of ways. Terror being common, should I try and pick one up. Most though will tolerate my presence without running for dear life. Bob will tolerate a little petting. But Baby is downright curious. She’ll not run. She’ll hold out her paw. She’ll stretch her neck for a massage. She’s definitely the most human friendly turt.



Shelled Giant

Angus could still grow a bit bigger. But he’s already a bit of a giant for a five year old turtle. He’s the biggest of the bunch, although Bob isn’t far behind. Offers of adoption won’t be accepted for the big ‘uns. They really need the space of a lake now. Fortunately, I’ve found a suitable lake for them here in DF. They’re going to love it…

Leg It


The Wilderness Awaits

Thirty five full days left and counting. It’s not just me who will be departing from Chez Denness, although the others will travel a lesser distance. The ten terror-pins are also to be cast into the wilderness, abandoned to their fate. Four of the little ones are to be adopted and will continue to be waited on hand and foot. The giants have a destination more suited to their proportions.

They will have more space, more sun, new friends and just as much food, although the occasional treats of ham, tuna and barbacoa they have become used to will be more scarce. Still, they will miss ‘home’. Maybe. Is that a tear I see in Bob’s eye? Probably not. He has a steely, confident gaze, does Bob.




The turtles are still with us. Bearing the wintry weather. Which fortunately isn’t very wintry at the moment. But not as sunny as they’d like either. Turtles make good pets. It’s a pain to clean their ponds out. They do sometimes fight each other for food. One got so excited last week when I held out some tuna fish for her, she bit my finger. And wouldn’t let go for about 15 seconds. It was surprisingly painful.

But otherwise they’re relaxed. They take it easy. No chewing slippers up. No pooping on new carpet. And when you pass by, they are a little reminder that you should chill out a bit every now and again. They set an exemplary example. This, by the by, is Angus. The biggest of the brood. At nearly 8″ from tip to tail of her shell, and pretty powerful legs, she is getting  a handful to hold if she isn’t in the mood to be picked up. She could grow to about 12 inches. Too big for a pond in my yard. But a large lake awaits her early in the New Year.

Most of the others will join her there. The lake is in a nice park, well maintained, tidy and predator free. There is also a turtle population there, so I know there is food and the water is clean. I wouldn’t put them anywhere there wasn’t a turtle presence. Not only because I want to be assured the conditions are right for my preciosas. But also because turtles released into watery environments have a tendency to eat and breed voraciously, to the detriment of the native flora and fauna.

But some of my turts, the smaller ones, may have an adopter. A lady with a large sun filled garden. Sounds promising. I’m thinking Mr Patel, Angel, Itchy and Scratchy would fit right in. She wants more info though, naturally. Some photos and videos. I have plenty of those. One of their voracious appetite for meat. One of the cleaning process –  it wouldn’t be right to send off the turtles without any forewarning regards how stinky they can be and how much effort is required to clean them. It will be easier for her though with just three or four smaller turts.



Biter Bob

Poor Bob the Turtle. He’s been sick for nearly two weeks now, but today at last he appears to getting a lot better. He has really started to look very weak/near death, so we rushed him at great expense to a different vet, specialising in reptiles. Cost $30 US dollars just to have him weighed, examined and injected with medicine and food in his little paw.

Which is when he turned back into the Bob we know and love! He’s a pretty clever little turtle as far as turtles go (which’ll be pretty unclever!) and he knows a needle isn’t good news. Boy did he open his mouth wide and savagely attack the poor vet with several vicious bites! To think we hadn’t managed to get his mouth open more than a millimetre all week, and all we had to do was display a needle….

Of course, when you are about 3 inches long and as toothless as a new born baby, savage biting isn’t going to perturb a vet unduly!

Still, the jab did the trick, and Bob is now swimming about, and more importantly he is eating again. All’s well that ends well, although he won’t be happy when he finds out he is back to the vet on Sunday for a second dose of the needle!


Turtle Trouble

Red Eared Terrapins (or Red Eared Sliders in the USA) aren’t necessarily the best pets as they need quite a lot of TLC…..although theyare very cute and do have their own subtle personalities – ok, they don’t wag their tails, bring you the paper or go for long walks in the forest. The mean green eating machines do beg pretty good though!

We bought a couple of them back in September 2005, Bob and Homer. A third, Baby, arrived a month later followed by Angus and Mr Patel before Christmas. As a strange Valentine’s Day present, my girlfriend got Angelita, the Turtle of Love in February. This post is getting really sad, isn’t it….


Anyway, the best turtle was always Bob. Doesn’t run away, comes up to see you, likes being petted, happily eats from your hand and to top it all off, on a sunny day in the outside Turtle Pool he practices ballett…see photo below!

But there have been dramas. Homer is a bit of an escape artist, capable of climbing 90 degree slopes, and he did a 24 hour disappearing act shortly after we first got him. A few weeks ago a much bigger scare…Baby got herself stuck somehow in the outside pool and apparantly drowned. As dead as she looked, we laid her out to try and get the water to drain out and after about 10 minutes she showed signs of life. An hour later she was walking about and next day eating tuna like nothing had happened.

But now the biggest worry of them all. Bob has a respiratory infection, and has become quite ill. This is a common illness in turtles but a serious one. Lethargy, no appetite and painful looking yawning and wheezing are the give away symptoms. We have him isolated so he doesn’t spread it, and lots of nice clean warm water to help his cold blooded immune system fight the infection.

Tomorrow he is off to the vet, and hopefully some anti biotics will bring him back to full health……fingers crossed. The other turtles miss the ‘Daddy of the Tank’.

Want a turtle? Read up first! is an excellent resource. They are hard work, and any lack of care will end up with a sick turtle very quickly. I clean my turts very regularly and Bob has still managed to get ill.