Thursday, July 14, 2005

Turtle Dementia?

I have 2 three-toed box turtles as pets and while we have owned them the past 7 to 9 years, they were handed down to us from someone else. They both had some sort of birth defect and it is surprising that they both have lived as long as they have. Scooter (3 legged but damn fast) is about 20 years old and Zippy *short for Ziploc and his attitude towards meeting new people) is about 25. Which 20-25 years is about the average life-span for healthy box turtles. So it is only natural that they will decline and die in the not too distant future.

Early in the week I dreamt that Zippy had a cold, and so yesterday I gave them a bath and checked them out. They both appeared healthy, no respirtory problems (you check by pressing your thumb to the underside of their throat, bubbles will come out their nose if they are sick) but I did notice that Zippy was slow and not as strong with his reflexes as he normally is. I thought it was odd but didn't think too much of it. It is the first time that I have let them run around the house since we have moved...turtles and hardwood floors and not a good match, there is no traction for them to walk with. They both struggled on the floors but both found a nice corner to hide and go to sleep with. When we left for school this morning, both of them were in the same place that we left them the night before.

When we had returned in the afternoon, Scoot was still were we had left him but Zippy was on the other side of the apartment hiding behind a box and sleeping. Normally when you pick Zippy up when he is sleeping, he will automatically close up into his shell, but he didn't, in fact he just continued to "hang out" so to speak. He would slightly react to my pokings and proddings, so I know that he was alive, but he wouldn't open his eyes. I tried to get Scooter to interact with him, but Scooter was acting strange as well...he was fighting to get away from Zippy. In fact he went behind the TV and promptly peed on the floor....this is incredibly unusual for him. I must have spent an hour on the floor with Zip trying to get him to wake up. As I was beginning to panic Mr.3 suggested we just leave to go to the grocery store and try to get him to respond when we came back.

When he had come back Zip had moved, only a few inches but he was awake and responding normally, slugglishly, but still normal. When I picked him up he started to zone out again with his eyes closed like before, and then a few minutes later he was wide awake and full of energy wanting to run around. I managed to get both of them to eat, which is a good sign.

So I am trying to rationalize his behavior....it could be that he is just old and tuckered himself out when he was walking around, he could be sick and dying, or maybe he has some strange form of turtle dementia where he is lucid one moment and comatose the next. Scooter is obviously freaked out and appears now to have incontinence. The possiblity with Zippy is that he is going through all 3 of those options, I know that is just part of natural life but it is still odd to think that I am now running the equilvent of a turtle rest home.

2 comments:

Kerrith Black said...

I have observed this kind of behavior before in humans. Did you guys get your turtles stoned?

Delal said...

nope. even when I used to live below the potheads they never acted like this...but I will check their tank for a bong just the same.