In My Hard Shelled Opinion
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     I have had turtles as pets off and on for over forty combined years. It began when I was a boy. It began one Sunday when we were starting out on a long drive to visit relatives, back in the days before super highways. My father pulled over and sent my brother back to pick up a turtle. It was a wood turtle that became my pet. I named him Tuffy because I could hardly constrain him in the car that day.

     Tuffy had a memorable way of being "my turtle". If anyone else picked up Tuffy, he would urinate all over them. My friends knew this. They liked to suggest to new kids to pick up the turtle. They would hold Tuffy with two hands like they were eating a sandwich. Boy could that turtle shoot a stream. But Tuffy never urinated on me, ever! My young age did not matter to Tuffy.

     As a boy I had Tuffy, box turtles, painted turtles, and snapping turtles. I released them before entering the military.

     While in college I married. A week after getting married, my wife and I found a baby snapping turtle we named Turtle. You may have read about him elsewhere on this web site and how we abandoned him eight years later. I thought we would be releasing him, but he had no desire to be released. We had to abandon him in a river. That really sticks with me. I will never forget him sitting there in the water looking up at us, his family, as we said good-by.

     Over the years we had to relocate several times. Most turtles were released usually where we found them. It always seemed right at the time. Then about ten years ago we relocated to our present home. We brought five turtles with us; one of them had moved with us before. It was that move and the bonding that followed that started my growing involvement with turtles that lead to the creation of

     While I am the photographer, writer, and programer, I have help. I have a staff of dedicated hard shelled companions. You have met most of them on That is the "we" I like to use when writing. After all is about them not me.

     At times I believe my turtles actually read my mind. Numerous times I drafted a new tour only to be corrected by them. That may sound quaint, but we do communicate with each other. I try to be a good listener. I could not bring you without them.

Thomas R. Schucker