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Tator's Page

Tator on 2/5/06 looking at blackworms he was eating.

Last Updated: 2/26/10

Tator's Story
Tator's Setups - now on their own page
Tator's Food
Maintenance of Tator's Home
Tator's Growth - on its own page
Tator Photos and Videos - on its own page

For more on red-bellied turtles, see my turtle species page.
For more on hatchling turtles, see my hatchling turtle page.

Here is a video of tator swimming on 9/4/06. It is 1535 KB.

Tator's Story

On 10/23/05, Cindi gave me a baby Eastern red-bellied turtle. I was going to name him PT for painted turtle since I thought that was what species he was. She named him Tator. So, his full name is PT Tator Tot. PT Tator said, "There's a sucker born every minute." That would be me. I will refer him as PT, PTTT, Tator, Tator Tot, etc. at whim, changing names. Because baby turtles are too small to sex externally, I will refer to PT as a he but he/she could be male or female. By January 2007, I am pretty sure Tator is male as his nails have really started to grow. Tator's estimated birth date is 10/11/05.

Tator is being kept active as hibernation is risky for babies. By summer, I will have to decide what to do with him. The options include put him in my pond and hope for the best, make a new pond or fence in a pond just for him, or keep him indoors (requiring some sort of artificial hibernation for future winters). My pond is not fenced and is frequented by great blue herons, cats, and raccoons to name a few predators. I read on one site that 99% of hatchlings die the first year. Tator will not be one of them if I can help it. [Update: 10/4/06, I have decided to keep Tator indoors. He is now a year old and getting big. My pond is not fenced so he would just run away or predators would get him. There are no turtles and certainly not his species anywhere near where I live.]

Tator's eyes seemed at some times to be mildly bulging and at other times normal. I got some Vitamin A turtle eye drops (Zoo Med Repti Turtle Eye Drops) which I gave him once a day for the first few weeks and then weekly for a while to head off eye infection which is extremely common in turtles, especially babies.

Tator had his tiny sharp white egg tooth on the end of his mouth when I got him.

As of 11/5/05, I still had not seen Tator eat but did see him cock his head and look at some blackworms on 11/1/05.

I have a turtle ramp in the setup but only saw him use if for the first time on 11/5/05, getting totally out of the water.

I finally saw Tator eat on 1/04/06 when he was gulping some blackworms. I know this is not the first time he has eaten in two months, just the first time I noticed since I do not spend much time with him. I just add food and clean. I do not have time to watch but wish I did.

By 1/27/06, Tator is eating blackworms, mealworms, shrimp, and commercial pellets with gusto. So much in fact that he is bursting at the seams. He feels fatter top to bottom. Between his scutes, it is now whitish/grayish. I hope he is not eating faster than he can grow. I added a cuttlebone piece to the water to increase calcium a bit plus he is eating pellets now. He has been laying against the heater too much and gave himself yellow patches on the plastron, sort of burns. So, I moved the heater under the ramp which still did not stop him. On 1/29/06, I added a fake resin log thing that fits right over the heater. I aimed the Duetto filter output down through the log so it would move the heat from the heater out of the log. With the filter going through the log, there is very little water movement in the rest of the tank which is good and bad because the flow made Tator exercise, perhaps sometimes too much when he was younger. I blocked the four holes in the log (which Tator could fit through and then go up against the heater, or worse yet, get stuck in there with the heater) with pieces of vinyl-coated hardware cloth (rabbit wire). They were just sitting there so hopefully he will not move them and get into the log. I turned up the heater to 75 degrees F (where I thought it was) and increased the water depth to about 2.5". There are photos from that day below.

On 3/4/06, I moved Tator to a 20 gallon tank. See below under his setup for the details.

On 3/5/06, I finally saw Tator eating kale although I had suspected it. He still does not eat grapes or apples. I saw him actively eating grated carrots on 3/8/06. He goes for them first when I put them in now. I saw Tator really out of the water on 3/12/06 which was rare for him. I finally saw Tator trying to eat the apple on 3/16/06. As he touched it, it would float away so he could not get a grip on it. Tator goes bonkers now for his shredded carrot and kale I give him every other day. It seems to interest him more now than the live blackworms (he does eat them just not as quick about it). He still eats pellets with gusto too. It really is true that Tator's species really likes vegetables!

As of 6/3/06, Tator eats kale (favorite food), apple, grape, parsley, blackworms, mealworms, small crickets, and various turtle pellets and treats. I have yet to get some trout worms for him.

As of 11/2/06, Tator hasn't been eating blackworms for a few months because he's too big. He refuses to eat trout worms for some reason (small earthworms). He eats a mealworm each day, a few crickets each week, many pellets, as well as his greens.

Tator became legal (over 4") sometime in October 2006. Tator's nails were not that long so I thought Tator was female for a few months. I was hoping for a male simply to avoid possible egg binding issues in the future. Plus, males are smaller, and their removal from the wild has less of a reproductive impact. Then, in January 2007, Tator had a nail growth spurt. I now think (hope!) Tator is male.

Update 3/9/08: Tator is all male (he mates with his fake log and has very long fingernails). He has not been eating much the last few months. He used to love his fruits and vegetables but now seems to want just crickets. I do not want to offer him "feeder fish" as they are diseased, and I like fish.

Tator's Setups

Tator's setups are now on this page.

Tator's Food

The first week, I offered Tator the following: live blackworms, frozen bloodworms, frozen white mosquito larvae, frozen brine shrimp, multiple kinds of commercial foods, kale, apple, grape, grated carrot. I had yet to see him eat. I finally saw him eat on 1/04/06. He was gulping live blackworms. By 1/27/06, he was eating pellets in earnest. He still would not eat fruits or vegetables. As of 8/11/06, Tator eats all of the following.

Here are the commercial foods I have:

Baby foods:


Adult foods (I started feeding some of those in January, 2006, leftover from Snappy):

Live foods:
Small crickets, mealworms (he can take big ones now), waxworms, small earthworms, small roaches, blackworms (no longer feed, too small for him to really care anymore).

Fruits and vegetables:
Apples, grated carrot, grapes, parsley, kale, arugula, watercress, spinach (not often), etc.

Maintenance of Tator's Home

Tator's first setup got a 100% water change three times a week including washing off all parts (while Tator waits in a pot). The Duetto filter's three parts are changed every three weeks. With the 20 gallon tank, I did a 100% change just once a week since there was a greater volume of water. The 40 gallon tank got and gets a 100% weekly water change. The 120 gallon tank gets a weekly 50% water change, the filter is totally cleaned every two weeks, and the water is completely changed (and all waste removed) every eight weeks.

Tator's Growth

Tator's growth records have been moved to this page.

Tator's Photos and Videos

Tator's photos and videos are now on this page.

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