Monday, September 8, 2008

A Tale of Two Turtles (well, mostly one)

My turtles don't get along. Zippy has always been the aggressive, overly-active one and Speedy more passive and lethargic. Zippy will eat all her food and climb over Speedy to get to the rest. About a year and a half ago Speedy seemed to be in failing health so I separated her out from Zippy on the off chance that she was contagious and by some miracle hadn't yet infected her roommate. She made a "miraculous" recovery and that's when I realized she was likely near starvation and malnourished due to Zippy the little piggy eating all their food!

Once Speedy seemed fully recovered and even (dare I say) active, I felt she could probably hold her own against Zippy and they began co-habitating again. Very shortly thereafter I came home to discover Speedy with a bloody and torn-up nose! Obviously Zippy had taken a swipe at her. I again separated them and started treating Speedy with hydrogen peroxide and Polysporin and tea tree oil in the water. Eventually her nose healed (although she'd never model again) and I started doing "play-dates" again, letting the two of them spend lightly supervised time together. The reason I really didn't want to keep them separate was partly sefish--I didn't like having to clean two turtle "abodes" but also I felt perhaps they were lonely by themselves and would rather be together despite Zippy's contrary behaviour.

Well, shortly before my August trip to California I woke up to find Speedy with an even nastier facial injury. This time, Zippy had ripped half her nose clean off! The right nostril was torn very badly and there seemed to be a lot of blood. I was frantic! She seemed relatively unscathed by it but it looked so terrible! I immediately separated them (obviously) and went to the local aquarium shop and the guy there recommended some healing stuff for reptiles. But when I got it home and used it on her, it didn't seem to be very waterproof so I was unsure it has having any benefit at all. I left Guy with strict instructions to keep a close eye on her and put the stuff on whenever he was there to feed my menagerie, but I was reasonably confident she'd be okay because she seemed to be coping, was eating fine and there didn't seem to be any signs of infection.

Well, when I got home she was very sluggish and she seemed to have either vomited or coughed up a lot of blood because there was semi-congealed globs of it floating in the water. It definitely hadn't been bled out of her body I can tell you that. I examined her wound carefully and it didn't seem infected--there was no redness and no puss--but if the blood in the water was any indication she had lost a lot of blood and it was unclear if she would recover.

Over the next few weeks she got progressively worse, went completely off her food and stopped moving around entirely. The day I was set to leave for this last trip, I was firmly convinced she had died overnight because she was completely unresponsive to my prodding in the morning. I kinda freaked out a bit--what the hell was I gonna do with a dead turtle?! And it was way more upsetting than I thought it was gonna be. I had sorta been preparing for it over the last week or so as she got worse and worse so I thought I'd be okay, but it really laid me low. I finally decided I would put her in the freezer until I got back from California and then I'd decide what to do with her then. Well when I went to clean her off she suddenly started moving! She was alive after all! But really, for how long? I mean she looked terrible. Again Guy was looking in on my babies while I was gone and I warned him she might go. I told him not to worry if she did--I wouldn't blame him or anything--but he didn't look reassured.

Against all odds she was still alive when I got back. She's still hanging on and I'm not really sure how. She's gone at least a month without food but maybe it's part of some process she's going through to replace the blood she lost or something. Every morning I check on her and every morning she's still alive--barely moving and still not eating, but alive. I want to believe that she's not suffering a slow, agonizing death but instead undergoing some miraculous regeneration and that one day she's just turn a corner and be all better. This may be too much to ask of a 15 year old red-eared slider I bought at a pet store in 1993 , but I just can't give up hope.


psychsarah said...

I hope you're right and Speedy comes around! Pets are part of the family, I don't care what anyone says, especially ones you've had for 15 year. I'm sending Speedy healthy thoughts!!

Cindy said...

Oh wow!! You still have those turtles?! I remember clearly when you got them, 3 cute little things, and they were named Zippy, Speedy, Nifty! (Whatever happened to Nifty.. I don't think that one lived very long)
Wishing Speedy a speedy recovery!

Mindy said...

I was going to say something sarcastic about abusive relationships and your enabling Zippy to continue with his abusive cycle.. or something about the calling the TAS (Turtle Aid Society)... but that just sucks. While I don't fully appreciate turtles as pets, I appreciate pets as very important. I hope everything works out and your turtle gets better. xo