Pets like Me: MARCO

At ease within her own shell


You wouldn’t expect a dog and a turtle to be friends, but as you’ve probably seen on the Internet, the animal kingdom can create some surprising friendships. I recently crossed paths with a River Cooter named Marco. Rest assured that our encounter went off without a hitch. She’s really come out of her shell since we became friends—see what I did there?

I can’t remember much about my muddy Mississippi home. My earliest memory was being stuffed inside a damp burlap bag along with my brother. The only thing worse than bouncing around inside the sack was the musty smell. And to make matters worse, if that were possible, we were hungry and thirsty. Now that I look back, I think we were being smuggled—illegally.

It was only a matter of time before we were found. A human hand carefully reached into the sack, pulled out my brother and then me. These heroes were from the Fish & Wildlife Conversation Commission. My brother didn’t survive, but I was adopted by a loving human family in Jacksonville. That was 35 years ago.

Today, I inhabit a 55-gallon tank with my pals Crush, a goldfish, and Moon Puppy, an algae eater.

When I’m not welcoming guests to our home, I spend my days daydreaming on my basking rock, watching TV, and eagerly awaiting my daily meal of leafy greens. If I’m lucky, I’ll get an extra helping of dandelion greens, which is my favorite! Sometimes I drag myself in the water for a swim so I can get some exercise and keep my girlish figure.

I admit, as a Cooter hatchling, I was an omnivore, but as an adult, I’m a true herbivore. Going vegan hasn’t only made me happier, but it’s made me stronger than I’ve ever been.

Enduring abuse as a youngster left me with a crooked spine and a vitamin E deficiency that nearly made me go blind. I may not have survived if it hadn’t been for my family.

My family has given me a second chance at life, and I want to do the same for others.

One day, I hope to return to my roots and build a safe haven for turtles who have been rescued from poachers. I’ll call it Tortopia. Survivors will learn the benefits of sustainable living, growing fresh greens, being comfortable in their own shells, and being at peace with the world.

World Turtle Day is Tuesday, May 23. It’s sponsored by American Tortoise Rescue. The goal of this day is to celebrate turtles and tortoises—and to ensure they are protected, especially from smugglers.

Many turtle species are decreasing in number due to habitat loss and poaching for food and the exotic pet trade. In captivity and as pets, turtles are often victims of mistreatment and neglect.

World Turtle Day is a great time to learn facts about turtles, including the right ways to care for pet turtles and how to rescue a tortoise trying to cross a busy street.

Happy Turtle Day!

Davi doesn’t carry his home on his back, but he supports his reptilian and amphibious friends.

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