Monday, July 25, 2005

A Pond in Our Living Room

Yesterday we finally got a huge new tank for our turtles. Red-Eared Sliders can get aggressive when they don't have enough space, and Edamame had been pursuing and nipping at Aubergine for weeks. We began to get worried when we noticed her sharklike focus on stalking him, and that he'd taken to swimming with only his front legs, tucking his rear ones and his tail into his shell so they wouldn't get bitten. Finally, M saw one day that Eddy had taken a piece out of the back of Aubie's shell, and he was bleeding. "That's it - I don't care what we pay, I'll put it on my credit card. We have to get these two a bigger tank!"

So, for a week our poor chelonian friends had to hang out in about 10 gallons of water each in the little tank, separated by a divider. Eddy was clearly frustrated in the tiny space, and Aubie was depressed. He was skittish after being hauled out and dry docked for a while as part of his wound treatment, and then he was separated from his beloved Aubergine. He'd spend hours just looking at her through the divider, pining and pathetically trying to do the mating dance at her. Of course, she was on the other side, trying to bite him through the divider. Call it the call of the wild or sheer teenage male persistence, Aubie never seems to stop pursuing her, even when she's had enough of his harassing her and takes a bite out of his hide. Sigh.

Anyway, after more than a week of figuring out what we needed, if it would fit in the apartment, how to set it up and how the heck to get it here before we go on vacation, I happened to ask the local Petland Discounts if they had any aquariums in stock - hoping just to get another small one for the interim - and was taken to the basement, to find a complete 90 gallon tank and stand right there! We had been told that we'd have to order a tank through them, it might take a week or two to arrive and it would be delivered to us from the warehouse on a Thursday only, with just the driver there to help us out if he was feeling nice. Now I figured that if I could find a good, cheap local moving company or men-with-a-van, our turts could have their new digs within the weekend!

And so it went. M paid for the tank (and a number of accoutrements) and I bought the filter, which is due on Monday or Tuesday. We found some terrific moving guys - JB moving - through a site I found called I was thrilled to find this site, where you not only can read reviews of local movers, but describe your move and get them to bid against each other on it. Jonathan from JB was a real sweetheart, and they only charged us $95 (plus a good tip) to move about 300 lbs worth of unwieldy, fragile glass tank and stand up through narrow, curving stairs to the fourth floor. Not only that, but they set it up and took the time to adjust it so it was perfectly level for us (an important factor in protecting both the floors and the structural integrity of the tank). I could not be more pleased with these guys, and if you are considering moving, I heartily suggest you check out citimove and consider hiring them for your job.

So, now our little lovelies have a huge space to do their turtley things in. I cannot believe how huge this thing is - it's nearly as tall as I am and equally as wide, weighing in, when filled, at about 1000-1500 pounds (and yes, we did research on how to place it so our 100+ year old floors could support it, so it shouldn't kill the downstairs neighbours). It really is like having a full pond in our living room, and very entertaining to watch the turtles swim around, climb on the tiki head ornament and try to eat the plastic plants and flowers (did I mention they have tiny, tiny brains?). We'll probably be watching much less t.v. with this thing around.

The bad news is, Eddy started stalking Aubie a bit again last night. They were so excited to explore their new territory (and, on Aubie's part, to be together again) that they seemed happy to be close, but now she is nipping again. I can't entirely blame her - despite the grreater space, Aubie hangs on her like a lamprey, constantly flirting with and irritating her like some kind of miniature, green Mars Blackmon. Now she's got that sharky, dead focus in her eyes again, so much so that I remarked to M "they're gonna have to change the expression 'doggedness' to "turtleness."

We'll see how it goes. We can't possibly get a bigger tank in this apartment, and we'd hate to have to separate them, or adopt one out. It may help when we install a bigger basking area with dirt to dig in, which we intend to do when we get back. As for now, M is needling me to keep trying to talk Eddy out of attack mode. It's not always easy talking with one's own animals, even if one is a professional animal communicator. Emotions get in the way, and the fact is that Eddy has always been a tough cookie, barely tolerating us, while Aubie is much more outgoing. I thought I was going to fall out when I got a simple message from her after exploring the new tank: "thank you." So, there's a bit of pressure involved in trying to actually get some behaviour modification out of her through A.C. Being nervous is not conducive to the task, so I hope M will be understanding. Can't we all just get along?

Anyway, that's the story for now. More later, and I will try to get some photos up soon.


- The Turtle Whisperer(?)

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