In My Hard Shelled Opinion
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Our Mission

     The original mission of  was to share high quality pictures of turtles and a few pictures of other reptiles and amphibians found in North America with the world wide web audience while not telling people what to do or think. I just wanted to share good pictures of turtles with like minded people in a slightly different format. I would provide many large pictures of the same animal including the plastron or belly and many animals of the same species. Thus without saying it, I would provide a better source of pictures for viewing enjoyment and identification.

     By design  is a celebration of the animals. I do not seek to draw attention to myself and I have avoided using my name up until now. I do not advocate the keeping of turtles as pets nor do I discourage it.  You do not have to keep turtles as pets to enjoy this web site.

     After achieving a presence on the internet I was entertaining fellow herpers and sharing techniques I use to care for my turtles. I realized that viewers would enjoy going behind the scenes too. The tours would be another format for sharing pictures of turtles while showing how I care for my turtles. As evidenced by the number of page views recorded, the tours were an instant success.

     The tours also lead to a shift in style. The presentation of the turtles changed from a could be a wild animal to that of pet turtles. It is much easier to discuss turtles by name and to manage picture files even though many of the turtles are wild or borrowed. All the amphibians and other reptiles are wild. 

     The tours also changed the mission of in another profound way. Email started coming asking questions. The more subjects I cover; the more email I receive. This has proven to be very rewarding. I enjoy helping people figure out how they will care for their turtles. The questions often lead to ideas for new tours to cover subjects I have taken for granted that are not commonly covered elsewhere. Take for example the question of whether it is normal for turtle shells to peel. I had but to walk outside, pick up several of my turtles, and photograph their shells peeling. The pictures tell the story.

     I seek to be original and to give first hand information rather than repeat "book learned" knowledge. I enjoy experimenting and presenting ideas for how to projects you will find nowhere else. 

     Answering email daily has reduced the time I spend preparing new material for Some of the email is a cry for immediate help with a sick turtle or at least a perceived to be sick turtle. Many more involve what to do with a new pet turtle. So email comes first and is answered daily.

     That brings us to this new editorial section I will call In My Hard Shelled Opinion. I have many bones to pick with those who would exert their influence over pet owners who enjoy keeping native species of turtles and other native reptiles and amphibians in general. I am troubled. Many of my readers are also troubled. It is time to speak out.

     I have recently extended my neck out of my shell by making public comments on proposed new rules governing native reptiles and amphibians here in Pennsylvania. I disagree with most of the new rules that will go into effect on January 1, 2007. So I plan to share with you my opinions on a number of subjects. I will express my opinions while not telling you what to think. I will be happy if I cause you to evaluate your own knowledge and experience and to act and think accordingly. I want you to form your own informed opinions.

     Where this change in mission will take me and only time will tell. I will continue to provide pictures and tours and to answer your email. This remains a hobby and not a passion. So I hope you find my opinions interesting and thought provoking.

Thomas R. Schucker