Tag Archives: pets

The Great Turtle Escape

shot Apr 16, 2005, 2:25 mins music: The Animals Now that the weather’s finally getting warmer, we figured the turtles could spend time outside, so we bought some low fencing (intended to demarcate flowerbeds or something) and planted it in the garden. The enclosure didn’t need to be very high – turtles don’t jump, after Read More…

shot Apr 16, 2005, 2:25 mins

music: The Animals

Now that the weather’s finally getting warmer, we figured the turtles could spend time outside, so we bought some low fencing (intended to demarcate flowerbeds or something) and planted it in the garden. The enclosure didn’t need to be very high – turtles don’t jump, after all…

(later)

We seem to have solved the problem. I turned around the fencing so that the horizontal bars are on the outside, and the turtles are faced with tall (to them), smooth vertical bars on the inside. They still try to escape, but not nearly so hard, and they seem to have gotten the hang of just relaxing in the sun (there’s a plastic tub set up as a shelter for them to crawl under when they get too hot). I’m still looking for the right size and shape of ceramic planter to use as a pond for them. In the meantime, I put down one of those things you put under a plant pot to catch overflow (sottovaso – undervase – in Italian; what’s the word for that in English?). It’s just low enough for them to crawl over the rim, and they both immediately plunged in. Apparently they get thirsty quickly in the sun.

I was contemplating getting an iguana as a pet, til I read that they live 20 years and can get to be 6 feet long; I don’t feature me at age 62 trying to walk a six-foot lizard. Maybe we’ll get a python instead…

Macho Animals …with Artificial Testicles

My friend Sara runs the Prevent a Litter Coalition, an American charity promoting spaying and neutering of pets, to prevent unwanted litters of puppies and kittens being born and (often) abandoned, abused, or euthanized because shelters cannot find good homes for them. From Sara I learned about Neuticles, fake testicles for neutered pets – so Read More…

My friend Sara runs the Prevent a Litter Coalition, an American charity promoting spaying and neutering of pets, to prevent unwanted litters of puppies and kittens being born and (often) abandoned, abused, or euthanized because shelters cannot find good homes for them.

From Sara I learned about Neuticles, fake testicles for neutered pets – so that your gelded male pet can look as macho as ever, even if he acts like a pussy(cat). I find the whole idea ludicrous, but apparently the prospect of a ball-less pet is a psychological barrier to neutering for many pet owners, especially men.

This is probably a factor in the low incidence of neutering of Italian pets. Some parts of Italy, especially Rome, have famously large populations of feral cats. These are fed by “cat ladies,” some of whom are reputed to lure cats with food, capture them, and whisk them off to be neutered (though I doubt that many of these retired ladies could actually afford the cost). This supposed practice is viewed with horror by Italian men, who feel an all-too-keen vicarious sympathy with the ex-tom cats. (These are the same men who superstitiously touch their own testicles when they see a nun, to ward off bad luck; I suppose a woman who can do without men is a symbolic threat to all manhood.)

A few years ago, one of the biggest celebrities in Italy was Varenne, a champion trotting horse. His exploits on the track endeared him to many Italians who knew little about horses or racing. They were sorry to see him retire to the stud farm at age seven, but contented themselves with imagining their idol happily ensconced in a harem of mares.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works for champion studs. The fans were dismayed to learn that Varenne would not have any actual contact with mares; like many stud stallions, he mounts a dummy, from which his sperm is collected and divided up, each dose thus being stretched to inseminate up to ten mares (if I remember correctly), at a cost of 60,000 euros each.

There was a popular uproar about Varenne’s dismal fate. After all those years of thrilling the public, surely he deserved a few real thrills himself? Varenne’s owner conceded that the stallion could have a companion mare, with whom he would actually be allowed to have sex from time to time. But the owner soon backpedaled, claiming that it would be dangerous for a stallion accustomed to the dummy to mate with a real mare: either or both of the parties might get hurt. The more likely pain would have been to the owner’s bankroll: each of Varenne’s authentic sexual experiences would have cost 600,000 euros – no horse’s sex life is worth that much, even in Italy.

Red-Eared Sliders in da House!

We don’t have a normal array of pets. We have a horse (if you can call a horse a pet; at any rate, he doesn’t live with us), and we have two turtles, Poirot and Marple. We don’t know their sexes, so they’re not M. Poirot and Miss Marple, just Poirot and Marple. We do Read More…

We don’t have a normal array of pets. We have a horse (if you can call a horse a pet; at any rate, he doesn’t live with us), and we have two turtles, Poirot and Marple. We don’t know their sexes, so they’re not M. Poirot and Miss Marple, just Poirot and Marple.
We do know their species: red-eared sliders, originating along the Mississippi and in the American south, the most common kind of pet store turtle. I did some Internet research after we got them and, had I realized beforehand what I was in for, I probably would have nixed the idea. But we have them now, and I’m responsible for keeping them alive so, unlike the 99.9% of baby red-eared sliders sold worldwide, these two are still thriving after three years. They’re about five inches long now, and they have every chance of living their allotted one score and ten years, and reaching over 14″ in length. By which time, we had better be living in a house with a garden so we can keep them outdoors in a pond most of the year.

For now, they live in a glass tank with a plastic island they can crawl up on, to bask in the rays of their special ultra-violet turtle lamp. And, when it’s warm, we let them have the crawl of the house for exercise and to dry off for a bit (something this species needs to do).