Case in point, our female turtle, Edamame. By all general measures, she has thrived. She has grown to large, may we say giant-ass, proportions, has her own 90 gallon tank (since she evicted Aubergine, the boy turtle, by repeatedly biting chunks out of his butt), a nice, hard shell, a good diet, etc. But the one thing she will not do is lay eggs.
"But Nator," you ask, "why should that turtle lay eggs if she doesn't want to, much less hasn't even been fertilized by a male turtle?" Well, I'll tell you, you ignorant slut. Like chickens, lady turtles produce eggs whether they are fertilized are not. Also like chickens, they like a dry, warm place to lay their eggs. Unfortunately, unlike chickens, lady turtles spend most of their time swimming in water, or basking on hard surfaces. In the wild, they would find a patch of loose dirt or sand not far from their pond, dig down a ways and let 'er rip. But in a captive environment, you need to furnish them with some sort of nesting area, because if they don't lay, the eggs get all calcified and hard inside the lady turtle, taking up space where, say, lady turtle organs should be. Not good.
In our case, constructing some kind of land/water hybrid terrarium was an overwhelming prospect. So, we figured we'd do as some other folks do and get Ms. Eddie a box full of loose earth where she could spend some quiet time laying her eggs. Of course, it can't just be any box of dirt. It's got to be big enough to hold her giant ass and then some, so she can turn around, and full of enough loose dirt that she can dig down all the way the length of her giant-ass shell. And the dirt has to be the right texture, plus free of outside organisms that might put an indoor-raised turtle's immune system into a frenzy, so you have to buy some kind of special amphibian dirt from the pet store. The most common and economical kind is not really dirt at all, but blocks of dehydrated coconut husks, which you soak in water and then dry out to form a loose, dirt-ish, fibrous substance that turtles can dig in. And that's what we done done. Done dood. Whatever.
The problem is, Eddie hates it. She doesn't like being taken out of her tank (and her giant ass is matched by a giant, bitey mouth on the other end), she doesn't like going in the box, she doesn't like the coconut husks and she most certainly doesn't like staying in the box. So, rather than relaxing and laying her eggs, Ms. Eddie tries repeatedly to escape, almost succeeding, until we put something heavy on the top of it. She then gets quiet - ominously quiet - until you think something's wrong in there, like she suffocated herself or something. So you go and check on her and she just glares at you, like she is the most abused creature ever and you are the worst being in the world. Then if you seal her up again she tries to escape some more, until you give up, rinse the coating of coconut husks off her and put her back in her tank. Results? No eggs, no how, no doin'.
Also? After a few days sitting around? Rehydrated coconuts husks smell.
Meanwhile, Aubergine has just gotten used to having her big tank to cavort in (where he's gotten play time, since he's normally confined to the small tank, away from her bitey mouth), but now you have to go scoop him out and confine him again, making him fear you like the giant, mammalian, probable turtle-eater that you are. All in all, you are a Bad Mommy, and whenever the turtles get to the turtle afterlife, they're going to tell on you to St. Peter or St. Francis or the Keymaster of Gozer or whoever and generally make sure you become a shish kabob when you arrive, yourself.
But, there's nothing for it. For now, we have to keep on trying, to see if maybe she gets used to it eventually and squirts out some huevos. If that doesn't happen, at some point we will have to haul her into an "exotic" specialist vet to get some x-rays taken, to make sure that she hasn't gotten impacted. And if she has? Extremely expensive and risky turtle surgery, or probable death. Hooray!
So all y'all out there who feel for critters, please send us wooOOOOoons of egg-laying, now and then, to encourage Ms. Eddie to freakin' save her own life. We hate to scare her by putting her in the box - fear is not good for turtles' immune systems, either - but we don't have much choice.
Unless anyone out there has a nice, clean home pond they'd want some turtles for? Anyone? Bueller...?