Jamie Hollandsworth has had pets all her life, but she wasn't quite sure what to expect when her nephew asked her to take in a turtle he'd bought on vacation. Then the size of a quarter, Franklin came to live in Hollandsworth's Bel Air home in a tank and settled in pretty nicely. But life with the turtle hasn't come without surprises.
"I thought Franklin was a male when I got him seven years ago," she says. "But this past March, I found 10 eggs in her tank. We now know that Franklin is a female." Whoops.
And then there were the goldfish: Franklin, a female red-eared slider turtle, seemed a little lonely in her tank, so Hollandsworth added four goldfish to the water for company. Two of them met their end as snacks (whoops again), but two managed to outsmart their tankmate and have now grown too big for her to eat. Franklin has also grown: The tiny little girl is now the size of a standard dinner plate and has gone through four tanks and two sizes of filters.
She's great company and entertainment, Hollandsworth says. "She loves to sit on her rock under a heat lamp where she stretches out. Every morning as I pack lunches, she'll jump off her rock into the water and swim, scratching at the sides of the tank until I hand her a few pieces of lunch meat." Franklin's favorites are Boar's Head turkey and ham, if you're wondering.
Most red-eared slider turtles live for 20 to 30 years, although some can live for more than 40; they are definitely long-term commitments. They're also classified as an invasive species and can't be set free after living in captivity. But Hollandsworth is grateful for the opportunity to share life with Franklin.
"She's a wonderful addition to the family," she says.
To have your pet ¿ including hamsters, snakes, horses, guinea pigs and the like ¿ considered for Collared, email information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
¿Kim Fernandez, for The Baltimore Sun (Christopher T. Assaf, Baltimore Sun photo /March 4, 2014)
I learned the hard way that I should care for/brush my cat's teeth when my rescued cat needed to be sedated and have her teeth cleaned (which was very expensive) because the tartar was so bad. She is not a good patient. What should I do for her teeth and how often?
Answer: Dental disease is very common, with the majority of cats being affected by age 3. It causes significant discomfort, difficulty eating and ultimately results in the loss of teeth. Tooth brushing is considered the best method of home dental care and ideally is performed daily. Supplies to have on hand include toothpaste formulated for cats and a pet tooth brush - -these come in various designs. Remember that cats are very inquisitive creatures and enjoy exploring their environment at their own pace. The first step of acclimating your cat to tooth-brushing is getting your cat accustomed to you touching his or her face, lips, gums and teeth. Slowly begin introducing toothpaste, which comes in a variety of tempting flavors. Next, allow your cat to investigate the toothbrush with the paste applied to it. When your cat is comfortable with the supplies involved, begin by brushing along the gum line, focusing on the outer surfaces of the teeth. Keep the experience positive for your cat, and be sure to offer a reward!
As pet caregivers, we have the opportunity each day to positively affect our cats’ dental health, and the rewards are substantial in terms of your cat's overall well-being and health. There are numerous alternative methods of caring for your cat's teeth if your cat is resistant to tooth brushing. Your veterinary office can advise you on options such as diets designed to clean the teeth, oral hygiene chews, rinses or gels, and water additives. It is important that your veterinarian assesses your cat's teeth every six months to monitor for changes. Keep in mind that professional cleaning and treatment is an important and often necessary step that aids in the efforts you are making to keep your cat's smile beautiful!
This week’s expert is Katie John, veterinary technician at the Cat Hospital at Towson. Submit your questions to Sun.Unleashed@gmail.com.