Wild turtles belong in nature, not in your home

Newsday File photo of a snapping turtle, about

Newsday File photo of a snapping turtle, about two-feet long, that was in the wild in Oakdale June 10, 2008. (Credit: Newsday/Michael E. Ach)

Pets

I found a cute little turtle crawling across my driveway. It is only about as big as a quarter, and from the photos on the Internet that I found, it seems to be a diamondback terrapin. The information says they live in the bays on the East Coast, but we are over a mile away from the bay. How could it have gotten here, and can we keep it as a pet? It is just adorable looking, and my kids are in love with it.

- Nancy Just, Bellmore

The diamondback terrapin is one of the few remaining native turtle species. It is not ethical or legal to keep them as pets. They live in saltwater and rarely come to shore except when the females lay their eggs. Because there is little undisturbed shoreline these days, they sometimes need to crawl a great distance from the water to lay their eggs, and when the babies hatch, they very often get lost on their way back to the water.

Another scenario is that seagulls sometimes pick up the babies to eat them and then get chased by other gulls looking to steal the little turtle for themselves. So the turtle gets dropped in the fray and lands far from the water.

The best thing you can do for it now is to take it to a quiet bay at ebb tide when there is no current and turn him loose. You did save his life by picking him up, and putting him back in his native habitat will complete the favor.

My Labrador is 5 years old and never has issues with eating, but my Pomeranian became a fussy eater when she became a year old, and I am forever trying to figure ways to get her to eat. Other friends with small dogs have similar stories. Any advice?

-- Marcus King, New Hyde Park

Actually, your Pomeranian has no issues at all. She is just a little dog with a little stomach and she does not do much all day long. When she was growing, of course, she ate much more eagerly. But when she stopped developing at a year old, her need for a lot of food slowed along with her metabolism. Try to visualize how small the stomach of a 5-pound dog is and you will get an idea of why she eats so much less than your Labrador.

Most people derive a great deal of pleasure from feeding their dogs, so when little ones cut down on their food consumption, everyone does their best to entice them to eat more by adding treats to their bowls.

Dogs quickly learn to hold out for the tastier bits. As long as your vet says your Pomeranian is healthy, do not worry. If you put food down for her and she does not eat right away, she will eat later. There is not a healthy animal on the planet that will voluntarily starve itself.

I am as guilty as the next person of deriving pleasure from feeding my dogs, and that is why I feed all mine two small meals a day. This way, if they do not eat much in the morning, they have the opportunity to eat again in the evening.

I set up a saltwater aquarium over the winter and I would like to know how warm it can become in the summer months. We like to turn the air conditioner off in our house during the day, but with the windows closed, it can get quite hot in the house. So far, there is no trouble, but we have not yet had any really hot days so far. At what point should I be worried?

- Scott Phillips, Greenlawn

Most fish start to suffer when the water temp gets over 85 degrees. In an average home on a hot summer day, the air temperature in the house can easily exceed that, and you will come home to fish soup at the end of the day.

If your aquarium is large, you can buy a chiller that is like a mini refrigeration unit. If the tank is small, then putting a room air conditioner just in that room will keep the water cool enough without costing you too much for electricity.