Walking through a friend’s front yard, I was enjoying the stillness and quiet of a summer afternoon when I heard a slight rustling coming from a nearby enclosed garden bed. Tall stalks of some new native plantings were slowly being moved aside by an unseen force from below, crunching as they were being pushed out of the way. Edging closer, I peered into the patchwork of sages and grasses. Something was crawling laboriously through the underbrush towards a small clearing where a small plate of strawberries had been placed. After several minutes of waiting patiently for the creature to emerge, Olaf the box turtle poked her head out of the vegetation, and started towards her lunch.
Having been adopted by a botanist and reptile enthusiast, Olaf was one lucky girl. This was not her first owner, but one who was more than happy to have a friend bask amongst her shrubs and eat snails and veggie table scraps. Her new abode was complete with hiding places, a burrow, small pond, basking spots, and shady areas.
When you buy a baby turtle or tortoise, you are signing up for a commitment that could outlast most marriages and mortgages. Since some of these animals can live up to a century, many of these animals find themselves in a last will and testament, or an adoption center if they are lucky. Too keep these reptiles from being abandoned or injured, San Luis Obispo offers shelters and adoption programs.
Too SLO, The San Luis Obispo Chapter of the California Turtle & Tortoise Club, helps to treat injured or sick chelonians, and place them in suitable homes (other than the ones they carry on their backs). Applicants living within CTTC chapters are screened and paired with their new shelled companions. Founded in 1989, Too Slow is dedicated to preserving turtles and tortoises through education, rehabilitation, and proper placement.
The CTTC supports three major programs. Of great concern is the rescue and care of the endangered California desert tortoise. It is illegal under federal law to buy, sell, or move these rare creatures. By agreement with the CA Department of Fish and Game, the CTTC serves as licensed representatives for relocation, providers of veterinary care, and maintains a database of captive tortoises. They have the authority to issue to the necessary paperwork to become a caretaker of the tortoises, and have placed over 30,000 animals in homes across the state. Their second area of work finds suitable accommodations for all other species of turtles and tortoises, capturing exotics, and aid in the survival of threatened animals. Their third operation deals with relocating snapping turtles from California ecosystems. Despite their illegal status, many are possessed as pets and could create a potential disaster were they to become established in the wild. The CTTC ships the turtles to outside organizations instead of euthanizing them