Occasionally someone considering adopting a turtle will ask me if Squirt, my red-eared slider, is difficult to care for. Now listen. I love that turtle so much it hurts. I wouldn’t trade him for the world. He has the biggest personality and brings me tons of joy.

AND HE IS A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF TROUBLE. So whenever someone asks me that question, I have to pause, take a deep breath, and begin at the beginning…

Squirt was a rescue turtle, and I don’t feel it’s ethical to adopt turtles any other way — those cute quarter turtles you see for sale are often mistreated and sold illegally. Since they’re marketed to impulse buyers who don’t know how to care for them, they often live short lives in tiny enclosures. It’s just cruel, y’all. Don’t buy turtles.

But Squirt was a rescue. Someone who hadn’t done a lick of research (it’s ironic that I’m being judgy about that; you’ll see why) adopted him and then, upon realizing he might carry salmonella, was going to abandon him in a lake where he wasn’t native and would have summarily killed everything or been killed.

My friend intervened and fostered him. She knew I couldn’t have furry pets in my apartment, so she suggested I adopt him. “They’re so easy,” she assured me. “He needs hardly anything.” I did no research. I trusted her completely, got a big ol’ tupperware for his first tank, and brought him home.

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