$100 an Inch




So last week we noticed that Cooper, our pet turtle, had an eye infection.  It did not go away on its own in a couple of days so we made an appointment at Tufts Foster Hospital for Small Animals in Grafton Massachusetts, one of the few experts in the area.  Tufts is a teaching hospital and locally is highly respected for their caring expertise and 24 hour emergency services.  Locally if you have an animal emergency any time of day or night, they are the people you go to.

Now when I started having a Turtle as a pet the thought never crossed my mind that I would have to take him to the vet.  I have always taken very good care of Cooper (He has a very cool set up, seen below), and over the course of many many years never once has he been ill (until now).

Murphy’s Law, by the time Friday rolled around his eye infection had cleared up, but to err on the side of caution we decided to take him in for a work up anyway.  

It seems that the turtles they see in the “Exotics” department usually are much LARGER than Cooper, they commented several times that he was so little, he is about 4 inches in diameter.  As well the turtles that they usually see in the “Exotics” department are of the more exotic variety, Cooper is just a common Eastern Painted Turtle.   I am sure though that the Wildlife Department sees their share of Coopers kind.

He cooperated (no pun intended) by being pulled into his shell the entire time and was moved around like a lump of rock.  He had two x-rays that indicated that his lungs looked “fluffy”, possible sign of infection. (I wish we could get copies of the x-rays because they were really neat!)  So then they drew blood-work.      

Diagnosis: Cooper has an upper respiratory infection that requires antibiotics.  So we have to jab him in the front arm/leg  with a syringe every 72 hours (10 times = 1 month), injecting a teeny weeny amount of medicine.  The first time we did it really sucked, he flailed his little arms about I think I stuck him three or four times before I got the needle in deep enough to dose him.  Today went smoother, but you still gotta feel bad for the little guy when you put him back into the water and he holds the arm that you stuck in. 

Needless to say this little adventure was expensive, but as a responsible loving pet owner it was worth every penny.  I took on the responsibility many years ago and am in charge of his care.   It does not matter that he does not have fur & does not snuggle.  He deserves the respect, care and love that any member of our family does, we try to treat everyone equal around here.    

It has been a learning experience too, we also found out that Cooper “Male” is more than likely  “Cooperette” Female!  They could not tell us for sure without running a DNA test (not necessary & very expensive).  Apparently her long claws and flat bottom shell are indicators of her femininity.  Collectively we decided that she can remain “Cooper” and we will try our darnedest to break the “he” habit.  Now go through the entire post again and replace all the hes with shes.



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