When I got home from work yesterday, I saw an ornate box turtle on the concrete by the front door. At first glance, I thought it was Roxy, and then I noticed the paint. I was fucking FURIOUS; I thought someone had stolen Roxy and painted her! I slowly walked up to the turtle, and it didn’t pull into its shell, not even its feet, plus it didn’t look like Roxy even if there was a notch out of its shell in the same spot as hers (though a bit smaller). It was a male, and some utter piece of shit had painted a fucking swastika on his carapace!
The paint was starting to wear and chip off, but Jesus Christ, what is wrong with people?!
I posted on /r/turtles, asking whether there was a way to remove the paint (which I’d thought was acrylic) from him without harming him. Someone suggested vegetable oil, which I tried, but only the white paint seemed to be affected. The silver and blue, and some neon orange I found beneath the whole mess, were nail polish. First, I tried a little bit of mineral spirits, but that had no effect, so I finally broke down and got some acetone polish remover. Not ideal, but this guy was very un-box turtle-like in that he didn’t pull in and slam the door while I held him; he struggled and dug his claws into my hand the whole time. Also peed on me twice, but I was wearing gloves, so it didn’t matter. He didn’t try to bite, though, which surprised me.
The polish came off fairly quickly, and I was veeeery careful not to get any on his skin, but his poor carapace was pitted and damaged, and I didn’t want to scrub those areas in case they were recent wounds and I might end up getting acetone on his skin, so I settled for getting nearly all of it off. He at least looks like a turtle again, and he has his camouflage back so he’s not a beacon to predators. Once I’d cleaned off any polish residue, I gave him a polish with a little vegetable oil to help combat the drying effect of the acetone. I hated to use it, but I couldn’t scrape off the paint because I’d damage his carapace further, and I couldn’t use anything that would require holding him against his will for an hour of scrubbing because…because he didn’t want to be held. I went for the fastest, least-stressful solution I could think of.
He’d been painted for quite some time, and more than once (given the orange paint I found under the other colours), and his carapace has deep dents where it’s grown improperly, possibly because of the thick layers of paint, and pits from some kind of physical damage.
He’s still a good-looking dude, though, and I released him into the violets by the door. Roxy likes it over there, and I hope he’ll stick around and meet her. I understand if he doesn’t–his first experience with me was not a pleasant one for him–but I still hope he will because he’s the second ornate I’ve ever seen in my whole life, and I hope it was Roxy’s feminine wiles that enticed him to come here in the first place because I would love to have bebe turtles. Even if I don’t, though, and even if he decides not to stick around, at least he’s presentable again, and it’ll be harder for the worthless excuse for a human who did that to him to find him again. They’d best not come looking if I’m around, either.
Angry turtle is tired of your shit.
Gratuitous turtle-butt. His tail is a lot broader than Roxy’s tiny one; her itsy-bitsy tail makes me laugh every time I see it.
Anyway, Rocky, I hope you’ll stay and be my second resident ornate box turtle, but I understand if you don’t, and I’m going to believe that you came here and parked yourself out in the open where I’d see you because you knew I’d help you. I know you didn’t, really, but I can tell myself that if I want!
EDIT: Bonus Roxy picture because she’s cute and I love her.