23 July, 2011

Answering Googled Questions

“What happens if an Eastern Box Turtle bites you?”

Really? Someone is seriously googling this? Look, if you have been bitten by an Eastern Box Turtle, it is because you stuck your finger in front of its face and waited, patiently, sometimes for hours, until the turtle un-boxed and saw your finger, and then you wiggled your finger enticingly, like a worm, and got bitten.

All right, maybe I’m exaggerating, but not by much. C’mon, guys, they are turtles. It is true that turtles can move pretty freaky fast when they want to, but it’s still not as fast as human reflexes. An EBT, unlike a snapping turtle, cannot reach its own sides with its mouth. All you have to do is keep your fingers behind its front legs and you are going to be totally safe.

But if, for some reason, you thought it was a brilliant idea to stick your finger in a box turtle’s mouth, clean it out really well and keep an eye on it for infection. EBTs will eat carrion when given the chance and most reptile mouths are kind of a cesspit of bacteria. So once the turtle lets go (this may take a while) you are at risk for infection.

17 April, 2011

Answering Googled Queries

1) “should you pet a service dog”

Well, that depends on who you are. I pet my service dog all the time, and also my SDIT (Service Dog In Training). They like it when I pet them, and I often pet them just because we both enjoy it, as well as to tell them in a low-key way that they done good in a particular moment or decision point. I firmly believe that service dog handlers should absolutely pet their service dogs. If, however, you are John Q. Random Stranger, you should not pet someone else’s service dog. You should not ask to pet someone else’s service dog. If a service dog handler invites you to pet the service dog, that is OK, but don’t expect it.

2) service dogs vs. pet dogs

The key difference here is that service dogs are trained to assist a person with a disability. This means that in order to have a service dog, you must first acquire a disability. Then, the dog must be trained to perform tasks that help out with that disability. Also, the dog must be capable of handling public situations without being obnoxious and disruptive.

There are a lot of areas where pet dogs and service dogs overlap. For instance, my SD and my SDIT both spend a lot of time being petted (see question 1) and a lot of time cuddling, and chewing bones, and lying on the furniture, and playing games with me and with other dogs. All four dogs are concerned if I am especially wobbly. The difference is that if I am especially wobbly, Beowulf and Sid (well, Sid is working on it) both know how to steady me.

So for example, if you are get panic attacks, you might have a pet dog who is concerned and comes over and licks your hands, and you pet the dog and it helps you refocus and get past it. This dog is a pet dog, who might qualify as an Emotional Support Animal. If your panic attacks are disabling (i.e. they interfere with major life activities), and you have trained the dog to, for instance, spot when you are about to have one and perform a behavior that helps you refocus and not have the panic attack, the dog may qualify as a service dog.

You do not have a right to take a pet animal to places where dogs are not normally allowed, not even an Emotional Support Animal. But a person with a disability does have a right to take a service dog almost anywhere, because they need the dog to help them out.

Which leads to the final distinction: a pet dog is a well-beloved family member, ideally, and friend. A service dog is a vital partner in every-day life.

3 January, 2011

Answering Googled Questions

1) how much is a dozen chicks
Twelve, just like a dozen of anything else.

2) pictures of braxton bragg
I have a whole set on Flickr dedicated to just this! Wait, you were looking for pics of the Confederate general of the same name? Can’t help you there. But Brax is an uncommonly handsome cat, don’t you think?

3) how to stop turtles from digging out
You can do a couple things to keep your turtle safely enclosed. One, you can put down 12″ x 12″ pavers around the inside of the turtle enclosure; two, you can bury a barrier up to 12″ deep around the edge of the pen. Which you choose to do depends on the digging ability of your particular turtle, which can vary among individuals in any given species.

28 November, 2010

Answering More Googled Questions

1) how do box turtles move

While at first glance box turtles appear to move by walking, this is actually just some clever misdirection on their part. Hidden cameras have shown that when an Eastern Box Turtle thinks no one is looking, it retracts its legs into its shell and engages its hoverjets, which propel it over the landscape at some truly startling speeds. This is why if you look away from a turtle, when you look back it will have moved much farther than you thought it would.

2) did swakhammer die

No, he’s just hibernating for the winter. What’s that? You were looking for results related to Cherie Priest’s books? That would be a spoiler, so I’m not telling you. Go buy the books and read them.

3) feline politics

They’re complicated and Machiavellian. My best advice is, don’t get involved unless you really have to, and then it’s best to do so from a distance behind a bunker composed of couch cushions while wielding a squirt bottle. Even then, you’ll have to sleep some time, so make sure your bedroom is secure from feline incursions. No matter how kind and snuggly your cat is, he’ll still smother you in your sleep for interfering with his play for the best sunbeam.

12 November, 2010

In which I answer Googled questions.

Some explicit, some implicit.

To the mysterious person who got here googling “small ww2 fighter aircraft” in quotes just like that, I am so sorry. You were probably not looking for the story of my epic battle with a horsefly but there you go. There are much worse things you could have ended up reading!

To the person who was looking for “what is the best time of year to return a pet box turtle to the wild” the answer is “There probably is not one, but if there is, this is definitely not it.” If you have a pet box turtle, please don’t just turn the little goober loose. They are highly dependent on living in a familiar area to find food, water, and the good hiding spots. Furthermore, if you release a box turtle into the wild, you may be releasing disease and/or parasites into the local wild population that did not exist before. I have assumed throughout that we’re talking about a box turtle that is native to the area in the first place, if it isn’t then NEVER EVER EVER let it loose. Ever. In a million billion years. At any rate, if you cannot keep your pet box turtle, the best thing to do is to find a turtle rescue who can either take the turtle in or help you place the small scaley stalker in an appropriate home. Once you’ve snagged that turtle out of the wild, it is your responsibility. Be kind and do the right thing.

To the person looking for “asimina triloba stink”: my pawpaws are too small to flower, but I am assured that their blossoms smell like rotting meat in order to attract carrion flies, which they depend on for pollination. Supposedly the smell is not terribly strong, which means that pawpaws often have a low fruit yield due to poor pollination. You can improve your fruit yield by hand-pollinating your tree, or by hanging meat in its branches to rot and attract flies. Or, y’know, you could take your chances. Your call. Either way, I wouldn’t plant pawpaws too close to the house, just in case.

To the person Googling “sable Doberman”: there aren’t any. Dobermans come in four colors: black, red, blue, and fawn. The fawn ones are prettier. Don’t tell Beowulf I said that.

To the person who looked for “will a turtle die if left on its back”: yes, yes it will. If it cannot turn itself over (and usually they can’t, although they will try), then the turtle will die an excruciatingly slow death from dehydration, starvation, and inability to regulate its temperature by walking to a better spot. Do not leave turtles on their backs.

To the person who wondered “is asimina triloba invasive?”: Only if you live outside its native range. In most of the United States and even into southern Canada, it is a lovely native species that will provide you with snacks in the form of pawpaw fruits.

12 July, 2010

Box Turtle Questions

I swear I get more box turtle hits off google…

“box turtle problem in my yard”
You probably do not actually have a box turtle problem. If you have box turtles in your yard, what you have are handy little beasts who will take care of your slug and snail problems for you, as well as keeping your hostas trimmed back. Please just let them be and enjoy the little buggers. This is, of course, provided they are wild box turtles wandering through. If a previous home owner has left you a legacy box turtle, well, that’s a whole nother pile of herpetological difficulty, now isn’t it. I highly recommend The Box Turtle Care and Conservation Webpage, run by Tess Cook, and also the super helpful and friendly people over at the Yahoo group Tess runs.

“relocating eastern box turtles”
“returning eastern box turtle to wild”
I keep harping on this: it’s difficult and the turtle is unlikely to survive it. If you cannot provide for the turtle yourself, the best bet is for you to find a wildlife rehabber or turtle rescue who can take the small scaly stalker in. It’s possible to relocate an EBT, but it involves knowing where the turtle is at all times and making sure it’s finding food, water, and the good hibernation places. Odds are good that if you’re trying it without slapping a GPS tracking device on the turtle and following its movements daily, the turtle will just die.

It’s far better to leave them where they are if at all possible, if they’re already in the wild. If this is a pet turtle who has lived in captivity for many years, you should just find it a home prepared to deal with the requirements of a pet box turtle, or a turtle rescue, seriously. Don’t sentence the turtle to death just dropping it in the woods somewhere.

“eastern box turtle safe to touch”
Well, for whom? You are unlikely to get diseases from the turtle unless you lick it, and you will have to go out of your way to get bitten by one, seriously. On the other hand, the turtle is going to find it stressful and unpleasant and that’s just mean. The best rule with wildlife is look, but don’t touch, and Eastern Box Turtles are wildlife. Unless the turtle is in imminent danger of death, just leave it alone, please.

In fact, if there’s one rule I wish I could get everyone to absorb re: turtles, it’s JUST LEAVE THEM ALONE. They take an enormous amount of specialized care to keep in captivity. You don’t even want to know what Jeremiah Swakhammer’s enclosure cost. They’re much, much better off living their little turtle lives in the wild as the Big Sky Turtle intended, without being petted, picked up, prodded at, chewed on by dogs, or otherwise harassed. Just let the little scaly bastards be.

6 July, 2010

Answering Googled Non-Questions

To the person who googled “teaching my dog to leave my russian tortoise alone”:

It will be hard. And dangerous for the tortoise. Dogs often think of turtles and tortoises as really fun chew toys. Your best bet is to keep the tortoise somewhere the dog can’t get to it. I use tall baby gates (with cat doors in them) to block my dogs off from various rooms so the cats have places to get away. I mean, sure, some dogs can be taught to leave small animals alone, and tortoises aren’t going to trigger a lot of prey drive, as slow-moving as they are. But why chance it?

P.S. I’m still in England.

5 July, 2010

Answering Googled Questions

I am in England this week visiting my fiance and queuing these posts up beforehand.
An anonymous Googler asks “will a turtle die if you move it”.

I can’t speak for all turtles, but for Eastern Box Turtles the answer is “almost certainly yes.” EBTs live their lives within 600 feet of the place they hatch. If you move them away from there, they have a homing sense and they will try to return. The world is a hazardous place when you are a small, slow-moving reptile, even if you are a mobile panic room[1]. So the turtle is probably going to die trying to go home.

If you see a wild box turtle, the best thing to do is leave it alone. If it’s in a dangerous place (like the road) then you can help it across, taking care to keep yourself safe. Always, if possible, move the turtle across the road in the direction it was going anyway, so it doesn’t just stomp right back into the road.

This is, after all, how I ended up with Jeremiah Swakhammer and a $400 turtle pen in my yard–a well-meaning soul picked him up, drove him all over a couple counties, and was intending to release him a long way from where he was found. While I’m enjoying Jeremiah, who is the least troublesome of the Usual Suspects, he would have been better off in his home range in the wild.

« Newer Posts