Friday, June 20, 2008

The Six Million Dollar Turtle

No, he's not bionic. He's Dribbles the $3.50 turtle that become a $400 (and counting) adorable nightmare.

When my daughter Ellie decided she wanted a turtle, I assumed it was a passing phase. Three weeks later after listening to her tireless whining, I gave in. We found a baby red-eared slider on the Internet at the bargain basement price of $3.50. How could I resist? Unfortunately they forget to mention the overnight shipping of $43.00 until you have already put the little guy in your online "shopping cart" and your child is over the rainbow with giddiness. Fine. If I'm being honest, the $50 was worth not hearing the word "turrrtttlllee" every three seconds. 

The next day he arrived, no bigger than a quarter and cute as can be - in a plastic container the size of a doily. Obviously this would not do. I headed over to the Pet Store thinking a $10 plastic container and some turtle bites would do the trick. Apparently I was wrong, as according to the Pet Store's "Red Eared Turtles for Dummies" book,  aquatic turtles need more square footage than Donald Trump's NY penthouse. The book suggested a minimum of a 30 gallon tank, with heater, lamp, filter, rocks, and a floating plateau where Dribbles (a.k.a. Puff Dribby) could "bask" comfortably in between swims. $298.00 later I was set and Dribbles had the home most turtles could only fantasize about.  

Dribbles life went swimmingly over the next several weeks. He enjoyed the boiled carrots we prepared for him with krill for dessert. He frolicked in the waters, climbed his Bonzai tree like a natural. All was well in Turtleville. Then without warning, he began refusing to eat. He slept all day just plopped on his log like roadkill. After a week of turtle-anorexia, I assumed that this was the beginning of the end for our little guy. But Ellie begged me to take him to a vet and like an idiot, once again, I finally gave in. Of course aquatic turtles can't see a regular vet - it has to be a specialist and we happened to find the one that used to work at Sea World, a virtual expert on all things reptilian and slimy.  $97 later the vet told me Dribbles isn't getting enough warmth from his Aquatic McMansion. A $40 clip on UV light and possibly a water heater would be needed stat. Vitamin A drops in his eyes and a calcium supplement were prescribed. Seriously, at this point I was ready to set him free in the nearest sewer drain  and hope he didn't mutate into a giant sized Fecal Frankenstein Turtle that would terrorize the streets of Orange County. Instead I paid my bill and took Dribbles back home to his rockin condo with new improved tanning lamp.

Today Dribbles seems to be feeling much better, but he still won't eat. After all the money I've invested, that little bugger better pull through. Of course I also heard that they can live up to 40 years, which honestly scares the bejeezus out of me, because if he lasts that long he truly will be the "six million dollar turtle."

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