Gonna start off with the most random fact ever: did you know that Scuttle's species actually has a Facebook page all to itself? Neither did I till i ran a Google search. Only three likes, including mine, LOL.

Anyway I've spent most of my free time last week cobbling together stuff to set up a proper vivarium for Scuttle, and yesterday I've finally managed to transfer the little fella to its new pad, after a mini-drama involving a pissed off turtle not too happy at being dug out of substrate to be moved.

Click image for a better view of some aggro turtle action
From that exercise in turtle aggravation, I suffered quite a few bites , although fortunately it's so small it was fairly painless. Does look VERY intimidating for something so dime-sized though:

This is the container that was Scuttle's temporary home for about a week:

Scuttle spent most of its time here burrowing in the sand and moving rocks around. I did eventually add more water in it for it to paddle around a bit, but skittish as it is, it wasn't really keen on showing much of itself in such an open-plan home.

In the meantime, I did a bit of reading up of turtle habitats and checked Youtube for turtle tank setup ideas. A trip to Matang River last weekend was rather fruitful: not only did I have a whale of a time with a couple of friends (we built a dam!), I ended up lugging a few kilos of large stones that were smooth and flat enough to be used in Scuttle's new home.

Here's the current setup for Scuttle's turtle tank:

It's not really complete yet, even if we've moved Scuttle into it (a week in that little container seemed rather inhumane, didn't want to keep it there too long), as I've yet to source some of the things I wanted to add to it, such as the driftwood that's meant to go across the middle bit of the tank.

However, it's sufficient - there's two rather large rocks piled in the right side of the tank, the higher rock has a flat top just at the water-line that also doubles as a platform for Scuttle to chill on. To the left is a pile of smaller rocks keeping a clay flower-pot in place - that serves as both a hide and another high area that Scuttle can clamber onto. 

There are some floating aquatic plants, went for those as Scuttle has a tendency to burrow through substrate and planted ones would probably be dug up by it. The tank bottom is covered by a 1.5cm thick layer of sand and small pebbles, exactly the sort of thing Scuttle loves digging through and hiding in.

When I first popped Scuttle in after much snapping and biting on its end, it very predictably zipped straight towards the flower-pot and hid in it. In the brief moment I looked away, it swam to the other end of the tank and hid in the crevice formed by the little rock over-hang. Due to the currents caused by the filter I installed, the water plants had all drifted to the same area, effectively shielding Scuttle from the prying eyes of this nosy human.

Once the shock of being transferred to the tank wore off a bit, it started peeking out from its hiding place, from amongst the water-plants that were still somewhat obscuring it from view:

As it obviously didn't like the attention it was being given, I decided to go into the house and leave it well alone. Late, a sudden tropical thunder-storm occurred, which caused a little concern about how the turtle tank would fare outside my house (in a sheltered area, but it was a rather dramatic storm), and so peeked out the door at it.

To my surprise, Scuttle was swimming merrily around in the water, chasing down the guppies I had added to the tank to liven it up and perform a dual function as live turtle food. The reality of how truly wild this creature is was driven home when I watched Scuttle corner some of those fishes, and stretched out its neck, snapping voraciously at its hapless prey.

Impressive, especially for something so tiny. I was so astounded that I forgot to take a video of that.

Later on, I was pleased to see that Scuttle had settled nicely into its new surroundings, and was chilling on the flat top of the rock arrangement, which allows it to breathe with its head out of water, as I'd intended it to:

Unfortunately, as wary as it is, it's rare for me to catch glimpses of it doing so without it catching sight of me as well, and subsequently scuttling back into the water. -_-"

In fact, after I took the previous picture, I heard a plop, and looked up to find that Scuttle had disappeared off the stone. Couldn't see where it'd hidden itself, and was squinting at the tank for a good five minutes before I saw something move in the sand next to the rock pile... and this popped up:

Only this morning did I manage to spot it swimming around near the flower-pot, scoping out the rest of the vivarium. Got a lucky shot of it looking out of the tank (it seems intelligent enough to comprehend certain concepts fish don't seem to**):

Once I was spotted looking over and snapping shots, it sped off to the safety of the rock pile AGAIN. Makes me sound like some pervy voyeur, which I suspect I am, if I'm actually taking pictures of the aftermath of that, which is one very irate Scuttle hiding in the space under the stones:

Fascinating creature, really, even if it seems to primarily just do these few things when I'm trying to observe it:

  • hide away from nosy humans
  • survey surroundings suspiciously
  • glare at me warily

It will never make for a tame pet, and shouldn't be treated as one, but in a simulation of its natural surroundings, it's a pretty interesting animal to watch, for all its fiercely independent nature, and gracefully surreal movements as it easily glides through the water.

I'll really be very sorry to have to release it once it's bigger, but this is definitely not something to be trifled with, once it's a little bigger, and capable of taking off an entire human finger... =(

Gonna end this post with one of my favourite pictures of Scuttle in hiding:

* Slang phrase in Chinese that means "tortoise with head hidden in shell", which is a way of describing someone as being cowardly. My mother's taken to calling Scuttle that in the Cantonese dialect... and it applies, very literally LOL.

** Figured that Scuttle has some sort of understanding of "inside" and "outside" because it didn't seem too fazed about people feigning jabbing motions at it from behind the glass, even when it's looking out of the tank and getting a clear view of all that poking, as opposed to sudden movements from where there ISN'T glass. 


Mrs Yellow said...

What a cozy abode for Scuttle ! Now he/she needs a partner to hang out with.

David said...


A most interesting endeavor from you.

I trust as you write, that Scuttle is indeed aclimatized to his/her new home.

A cute little turtle.

Looking forward to the progress of your vivarium.


CreativeBitchin said...

mrs. yellow: scuttle's so cranky (and we can't sex it till it's much bigger) i think being alone is a good thing for now haha. i quite enjoy watching it swim around =)

david: cute but cantankerous little fella! i'm quite content leaving it be though.. it's beautiful to watch it just gliding through water.