Sunday, July 31, 2011
One of the scary things about reptiles, at least to me, is that they can go a very long time without eating. And they do. It's never good when a patient won't eat. For someone like me, who loves her charges and her babies, her friends and family with food, it's doubly upsetting.
Every day for two weeks I put tempting food right in front of that turtle. Twice a day. He'd look at it, sometimes even crane his neck, but he stolidly refused to take a bite. I tried bananas, peaches, watermelon, mealworms, earthworms, black raspberries, blueberries and slugs. Slugs are like candy to box turtles.
I went out with my headlamp, breathing the clouds of midges and gnats who were attracted to it, and hunted slugs at night. I put melon rinds out as bait and gathered them, keeping them in a little slug farm in the living room. You have one, don't you? I feed mine lettuce and spent daylily flowers.
These are Arion subfuscus, an imported European slug. Don't ask me why we have imported slugs here. We just do. Not surprisingly, they vastly outnumber our old gray slugs.
And the turkle would look at them and let them crawl right by. Until the day when I offered two slugs on a nice piece of bark from the forest floor, which was covered with fresh earthy-smelling loam. The turtle's head shot out and he craned his neck and bam! he grabbed a slug. And then a second.
I was so excited I took these photos from across the room with my 300 mm. lens, just to document this Gandhi of turtles, digging in. He was so skittish I couldn't let him see me.
After that magic moment, no slug was safe around Sluggo. My theory is that the scent of fresh loam reminded him of home, and stimulated his appetite.
I was one relieved turtle nurse when Sluggo finally lived up to his name.