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Monday, March 17, 2014

The Time Tucker Escaped (The First Time, Anyway)

It was about three years ago, and I was right in the throes of student teaching. I got home from a long, not-so-great day. My lessons all went pretty well, but there was a tripping-down-three-steps-in-front-of-25-students incident (whoops) that wasn't so terribly pleasant, and my kids were chatty that day, no surprise.

In college, one of the very first things I did after I get home from student teaching was feed Tucker Turtle. 

Anyways, my plan for the day was to get home, feed Mr. Tuck, then work on my lesson plans, my homework, and then make something for myself to eat (namely, Ramen Noodles) before heading to my 6:00 class.

But when I went to feed the little guy, I couldn't find him! Now, this is unusual. RES (Red-Eared Sliders) are notorious for being a lot like dogs in their eating habits... they're always hungry. Always. Usually as soon as I walked in the door, Tucker was swimming around like a madman, er, madturtle, following my every move and practicing his "I'm STARVING!" act. He still does this, but in the morning now. On this particular day, he was nowhere to be found.

So I looked behind his sunning rock, thinking maybe he was sleeping and hadn't noticed me coming in yet. Nothing. Hiding in the rocks? Nothing.

Now I started thinking that maybe my roommate was playing some kind of sick joke on me and had taken Tucker out to mess with me. Or show her to friends. But that wasn't like her. She was messy, but not mean.

Right about then, I started freaking out. I'm super busy this week! I have way too much going on! Searching for a missing turtle in my (dump of an) apartment is not on my to-do list!

I called Zeke. He "reassured" me that Tucker would be fine for a week if he had gotten out of the tank and was roving around my apartment somewhere. I freaked out more. My little Tucky Turtle, out there on the mean streets of Chicago? Never! And besides, how could he have possibly gotten out of the tank? For some reason, I felt like the possibility of him simply disappearing into thin air was greater than him getting out of his tank.

It would not be an easy feat for him, for sure. See how far the walls are from his sunning rock? At that time, he was in a ten gallon tank- he couldn't just crawl along the bottom and hop out. He would have had to jump from the sunning rock to the side of the tank, then pull himself out. And he was super tiny then!


Well, apparently not. I found him, wedged between my dresser (the turtle tank was sitting on top of it) and the wall. There was fabric underneath his tank to protect my dresser, and the extra was hung off the back of the dresser, between the dresser and the wall. He had gotten caught up in the extra fabric, and when I pulled it back so I could shine the flashlight down the back of the dresser, out he fell.

And I freaked out even more.

He was fully tucked into his shell, and didn't move when I picked him up. He is pretty comfortable with us, so he never really tucks his head all the way into his shell anymore, and didn't even then. I hadn't seen his head tucked in so far in a very long time. I was so worried he was dead! I put him on his sunning rock, his back half in the water, to see if that helped anything. I called Zeke again to tell him that I had found our little prodigal... and to cry...

But I never got to the crying part. Tucker untucked his head from his shell and was looking around. When I walked toward him, he lept into the water and swam like mad. Like nothing had even happened.

I added something to the top of my to-do list that evening: Rearrange Tucker's tank. Have a stern talking-to with him about appropriate tank behavior.

It's happened only once more since that first escape, but with his new tank set up, he hasn't been a run-away in a while. Silly turtle.

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