Saturday, May 26, 2007

Howard goes swimming

Just a quick update on Howard at nine months of age. The upper left is a picture of him as a hatchling, the one next to it is Howard at six months.

As you can see, the last three months have seen some real changes in the boy. I had been under the impression that, because they don't need a great deal of food, you should be careful of overfeeding them. (Possibly because I read this on a Web site about raising snapping turtles.)

However, a few months ago, I read another Web site on the same topic that said you should go ahead and feed them when they were hungry. Howard was very much in favor of this approach.

The result is that he has somewhat outgrown his tank. The timing is good, though, because he can be in a nice sweater box on a platform on the backporch much of the summer and in his original tank at other times. This also gives him a chance to work on his swimming skills, since there's more water in his sweater box than in his little tank.

At the moment, we're having a Call of the Wild moment as he goes to the edge of the tank and swims as if he would get through the translucency and into the Big World Outside, but I expect him to settle into his new home soon enough.

His sudden growth made me pause and wonder if he should, indeed, go back to the Big World Outside this summer rather than next, but he's still, at this point, snack-sized as far as any raccoons, skunks or other opportunistic feeders are concerned. By next spring, he'll probably be bigger than any snapping turtle I would like to have as a roommate, but a fine size for being released.

In the meantime, I'm scouting for ponds that I can get to with the canoe but where he won't run into a lot of people, since he is apt to think of them as food sources. He's still no more gentle and cuddly than ever, but he's become more trusting than is likely good for him. Fortunately, this part of Maine is sparsely settled and honeycombed with water sources, so it won't be terribly difficult to find him a quiet corner somewhere.


ronnie said...

Sniff, sniff -
your little boy is growing up!

"Turn around and they're three,
turn around and they're four,
turn around and they're a sexually mature Chelydra serpentina,
swimming out of the door."


Sherwood Harrington said...

Howard appears to be very frugal. I would have spent that quarter a long time ago.

ronnie said...

He's saving it for college. Mike hasn't explained "interest" to him yet.

Poor Howard. It's going to be hard to find a good two-bit university that offers degrees in marine biology.

Mike said...

I was actually thinking today that perhaps I should have chosen something to indicate scale that wouldn't eventually fit in his mouth.

Incidentally, when I picked him up to bring him back in the house this evening (thinking that a raccoon could as easily snack on him on the back porch overnight as in a pond), I put my hand under him to give him some support and realized he really is kinda porky. The part of his undercarriage that is shell should be a little bigger, I think. Perhaps we'll try for a compromise between feeding him "not much at all" and "everything he wants."