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.
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¿Kim Fernandez, for The Baltimore Sun (Christopher T. Assaf, Baltimore Sun photo /March 4, 2014)
What can I do to prevent my dog from getting carsick? She is fine for a short trip, but after 20 minutes, she gets sick.
Motion sickness is one of the undertreated problems that we see in pets. This can make a road trip a nightmare for the pets and their companions. Before trying to fix the problem, it is important to figure out what's making them to throw up in the car. Two main reasons for this are fear of the car ride and true motion sickness. The first is especially common in younger pets or newly adopted pets that have not had a lot experience in cars.
Try to get the pet used to car rides in an incremental fashion. The first few days, put her in the car for a short while without doing anything else. Once she is comfortable with this step, start the car but stay parked (with the door open for ventilation). Next time, start the car and move it a little; then the next, drive her a few blocks and come back home, again increasing the distance at a slow pace. Reward her after each step when she is calm and relaxed. At any point, if you notice her getting anxious or carsick, go back to the previous step. It could take several days until she is relaxed enough to ride without any issues.
You can also help ease the sickness by not feeding her anything at least a couple of hours before the trip; not letting her run or jump while in the car; and letting in some fresh air. Some pets will need help from medications. Your veterinarian can discuss these options and the common side effects. Alternative choices like acupuncture and ginger have some limited success, but may be helpful when the side effects from the medications are intolerable.
This week's expert is Dr. Padma Yadlapalli, Freetown Animal Hospital in Columbia. To submit a question for a local animal expert, email firstname.lastname@example.org.