Sunday, May 16, 2010

Losing the Turtle 'Man Bits'

Occasionally everyone's pets will do strange and unexplained things.

One thing that both of my turtles will do -maybe once a year- is they will arch up and some internal organ will come out of their tail. In an odd way it looks like stretching and the organ will always go back inside. Of course, the first time I saw this happen I thought that my turtle was 15 years later, you just realize that it is something that happens.

Yesterday morning when I got to get the turtles for their bath, Scooter had an organ protruding out of his tail. It was dirty and covered with litter from the tank. He didn't seem stressed, but then again, I wasn't sure how long they had been out. I got him in the bath quickly. I expected him to do this tail swishy thing to clean it off in the water and for it to go back in.

But it didn't.

After they had soaked up as much water as they could in the bath. I took Scooter out to look closer at what was going on. I managed to gently pull off some of the poo and litter that was still stuck. I quickly ran a fresh bath for him again. At this point, I was starting to lose it.

I called the vet and trying not to sound too hysterical explained that I had a turtle with a prolapsed organ. They told me to bring him down immediately. So I prepared a box, let the two turtles say a quick goodbye, got a little head snuggle from Scooter, put some KY jelly on the organ to keep it moist, called my brother in hysterics, and we were off in the car.

Now, both the turtles are old. Average box turtle lifespan is 20 years: Zippy is roughly between 25-30 years old, Scooter is 20-25. Jimmy and I have both thought that the first one of the two to pass would be Scooter and we both have predicted that it might be within this year. Of course, I also envisioned him passing in his sleep, not with an organ stuck outside of his body making him ill.

When we finally got to the vet we learned that the organ stuck outside of Scooter's body was his phallus. I have no pictures, but you need to image something the size of a shelled walnut protruding out of the tail of a 3 inch turtle. Poor guy was really stressed from the car ride, and of me crying, that when the vet was examining him he threw-up the water he had drunk from the bath. I must say that it was projectile vomiting always is. It was like someone had turned on a water fountain....the stream went two feet.

The vet is going to have to amputate his "man bits". Which was supposed to have been done yesterday but they haven't called me to tell me that everything is ok. I've already made arrangements to pick him up on Monday. And took the opportunity to make an appointment for Zippy to get his nails and beak trimmed. It needs to be done and I think that it would help the both of them to travel back from the vet together. All of my spare funds are marked aside for Jimmy's tuition, but luckily, Jimmy was willing to take one less class this semester so I could afford to pay for Scooter's surgery

Zippy was more distressed yesterday than Scooter. After a bath, I normally let the turtles run around the house....and Zippy didn't want to come out of his shell yesterday. I expected him to react like that though. Years and years ago when Scooter managed to slip under the backyard fence and was missing for a day and a half, this was how Zip reacted. This morning, I've been watching him search the house for Scoot. Its heartbreaking to watch. He was in the bathroom for a while investigating....and then he has walked all over the house, visiting Scooter's favorite places to hide to check for him. They communicate by using a series of soft clicking noises and head bobs. When they do it, you can see their neck bellowing out. And Zippy will walk for a few feet, stop, and then call out for a while....and then start the process again. He's even gone over to an area that he avoids but Scooter loves (he always catches himself on the rug there and needs to be rescued each time) to find him.

So now I am just waiting to hear word. I've left a message at the vet's office...but until then it is just me working around the house and dealing with accusatory looks from Zippy. Damn I wish I spoke turtle, that would make this easier.

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