The Snapping Turtles


I picked this turtle up on 9/26/01 from the Olympia Animal Control. She'd been crossing a road, and obviously dumped. I call her Houdini for all the times she managed to escape from her temporary tanks.


28 1/2 lbs with a 15" shell. She refused to eat for three months, but with the vet's help she's now got a hearty appetite (she's just really picky).


She has the coolest feet. :-)


We forcefed Houdini using a length of PVC-reinforced vinyl tubing (purchased at Home Depot) with the business end tapered and sanded smooth, marked with the approximate length of her digestive tract for easy reference when holding down a wildly struggling snapper, an 18" length of 2X4 (silver fir, a nice hard wood) with 1" diameter holes drilled closely together, a 60 cc syringe with the end trimmed a bit (not shown), herring milkshake (recipe follows), and LOTS AND LOTS OF DRUGS. We originally tried it without drugs by getting her to bite on the 2X4 and taping her head to the wood, but her mouth slipped off. We then tried a little drugs but they had no effect on her. Eventually we came up with a good dosage that made her pliable, but it took a lot of trial and error. Don't ask me to tell you what kind and how much, I'm not a vet.


I held her head and extender her neck, another person held her rear end so she couldn't back off the table, and the vet maneuvered the wood into Houdini's mouth and put the tube (soaked in hot water to make it more pliable) through the appropriate hole. This caused Houdini to struggle like mad, and I don't blame her. A fourth person then handed the syringe filled with warmed herring milkshake to the vet and the vet injected it into the tube (the vet decided how much to feed). The food was followed with some warm water to flush it all down. After that the tube and 2X4 were quickly removed and I sat for a bit holding Houdini on my lap with her head pointed up so gravity would help the food settle. Thankfully, we only had to do this twice. Take a close look at the 2X4. That was one MAD turtle.


The paste we tubed into her was made with one can of "Max Cal" prescription diet and a pound or so of thawed whole herring, cut into 2" pieces.


Blend until it becomes a fairly smooth paste (you'll be amazed how well whole fish blends), using the "pulse" button and periodically stopping to push the fish chunks down with a spoon. Then pour into a fine mesh strainer and press it through with a spatula or spoon (this removes pieces of bone, fin and scales that might clog the syringe). Voila! A herring milkshake. (Note: if left out in a warm reptile room for 2 days it makes a very effective stinkbomb.)


This is the little girl, the smaller of my two from Texas. Ooo, they're little pigs! She's moved into Houdini's tank now (her choice, not mine), and they're coexisting amazingly well.


"I'm hungry! Feed me or I eat your camera!"


The boy. It's an incredible experience to interact with him through the glass.


This is the big guy's new tank. 90 gallons. I built a dry box on one end for the filter to hang on. This was taken when it was cycling and rather cloudy. He makes the tank look small.


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