Turtle And The Red Sea Anemone

by Sherry Riter in Family,Turtle

painted turtle 55 gallon tank

The red sea anemone in Turtle’s tank is fake and feels like a strong, flexible, plastic rubber material. A real sea anemome is actually a living creature with long tentacles and eats. The fake anemone doesn’t eat and therefore needs no attention by me except on “tank cleaning” day. Let’s just say I don’t want another thing living with me that eats.

Our painted turtle, Turtle, is very active and swims A LOT. Sometimes I have to snap a couple hundred pictures in order to take a nice clear picture of him. The sea anemone just added to his happy movements.

Turtle seemed to like the red sea anemone. Notice that “seemed” is the operative word.

Turtle, painted turtles always swim

Why Alyssa Cried

Turtle left the bright red sea anemone alone for quite awhile. Then one day he decided to start dragging it around his tank. He would grab hold of it and shake it from side to side like a dog does a toy. As the days passed, Turtle got more violent with this sea anemone, but I thought it was just a phase. Sometimes Turtle does weird things.

Anyway, when it is time for Turtle to go to sleep, I cover his large fifty-five gallon tank and turn off his lights so that the tank is in darkness. Then when the morning comes, I take off the cover, turn the lights back on and feed him.

The other day, Alyssa and I were getting ready for work and were about to sit down to eat breakfast. I took off the tank cover, flipped on Turtle’s lights and reached for his food so that I could feed him. I stopped moving because Turtle was head first buried in the sea anemone.

I tapped on the glass of the tank.

Turtle didn’t move.

I tapped harder and called his name. “Turtle? Turtle?!”

Turtle still didn’t move.

I looked closely and could see that his mouth was clinched tightly around the bottom of one of the tentacles of the red sea anemone. I felt sick inside. He must have become so obsessed with the red sea anemone that he clutched it until he drowned.

“Alyssa! I think Turtle is dead!” I called out to her.

She came over and we both stood staring into the tank. Turtle didn’t move and we were both getting really sad. Alyssa started to cry. I got mad thinking about how dumb Turtle was to grip a fake red sea anemone until he drowned!

I took off the tank lid and plunged my hand in the water with the intention of taking Turtle out of the tank when suddenly Turtle let go of the red sea anemone. He swam a little and then popped his head out of the water to look at both of us.


Alyssa wiped her tears and went back into the kitchen. I wasn’t going to have this happen to us again, so I took the red sea anemone out of the tank. Turtle was not happy about me removing his anemone. I plopped it in a plastic container and set it against the glass of the tank to torture him. Turtle swam towards it. Looked at me and then looked at the bright red sea anemone.

“For-get it!” I said while stressing each syllable. “You are a ve-ry bad tur-tle, Tur-tle. You made Alyssa cry first thing this morning and you terrified me!”

Turtle obviously had nothing to say in his defense and we aren’t going to ever put the red sea anemone back in his tank again.

Bad Turtle! Bad, bad Turtle!

painted turtle red sea anemone

This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joan February 23, 2013 at 1:26 pm

I am not a turtle psychologist, but I think Turtle thought he had found his soul mate in the fake red sea anemone. After all, the red sea anemone was beautiful and caught Turtle’s eye, (and obviously Turtle’s heart). I can understand yours and Alyssa’s heartbreak when you thought Turtle had drowned. You love Turtle and he has become part of your family. You have loved and raised Turtle from the day your mother gave him to Alyssa as a gift when he was the size of a quarter. And you have lovingly fed Turtle until he has flourished and grown so much that he now resides in a fifty-five gallon tank. Your care of Turtle clearly shows that you have a loving heart for all creatures big and small. 🙂

However, not being a turtle psychologist and understanding what you call “weird turtle behavior,” I consulted a book called “Understanding Weird Turtle Behavior.” I was shocked to read that what you thought was violent behavior on Turtle’s behalf when “one day he decided to start dragging it around his tank. He would grab hold of it and shake it from side to side like a dog does a toy. As the days passed, Turtle got more violent with this sea anemone, but I thought it was just a phase” – was not a phase at all, but the courting ritual of a turtle. It is true, Redhead Riter, Turtle was only doing what comes naturally and courting the red sea anemone. As stated in the book it says and I quote, “If a turtle cannot find a suitable soul mate, it might end up attaching itself to an inanimate object like a fake red sea anemone in its tank and make the red sea anemone the fancy of its heart’s desire.” There you have it, Redhead Riter, straight from the horses mouth, (or should I say turtle’s mouth)? 🙂

Did it ever occur to you, Redhead Riter, that after you covered Turtle’s fifty-five gallon tank and turned off his lights for the night so that the tank was in darkness that Turtle swam down to the red sea anemone and made mad, passionate love to it? And what you saw in the morning when you uncovered Turtle’s tank and turned the lights back on to feed him was not a drowned Turtle as you had written, “I looked closely and could see that his mouth was clinched tightly around the bottom of one of the tentacles of the red sea anemone. I felt sick inside. He must have become so obsessed with the red sea anemone that he clutched it until he drowned.” No, Redhead Riter, you have it all wrong! What you were actually witnessing was a very happy, content and relaxed Turtle who had knocked himself out by making love all night! (Come on, don’t you remember what it was like to be so in love and sexually charged that you made love all night too? Okay, granted, you weren’t making love to a red sea anemone but your husband – but you get what I’m saying.) 😉

So, what do you do, Redhead Riter? You remove Turtle’s soul mate (the red sea anemone) from the tank for doing what comes naturally to turtles as well as humans when the lights go off at night. 😉 Not “Bad Turtle! Bad, bad Turtle!” as you reprimanded Turtle at the end of your post. I say, “Bad Redhead Riter! Bad, bad Redhead Riter!” for removing Turtle’s soul mate.


2 Sherry Riter February 23, 2013 at 1:50 pm

You’re so crazy. He is not in love with the red sea anemone and he was not making passionate love to it! Silly! Silly! Silly!

As a side note, YES! I do remember what it was like to be “so in love and sexually charged that you made love all night” and boy do I remember! LOL By the way, THOSE experiences will never be on my blog. LOL LOL


3 Joan February 23, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I have just come back from the post office where I have mailed you the book “Understanding Weird Turtle Behavior.” I suggest you read it from beginning to end. All one thousand pages! 🙂


4 Sherry Riter February 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Well, considering your last comment was at 1:26pm and this one is 1:33pm, I dare say I don’t believe you. LOL


5 Joan February 23, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Ohhh please, would I lie to you? 🙂 And I don’t appreciate that after I spent two hours writing my comment that you called me crazy!


6 Sherry Riter February 23, 2013 at 4:00 pm

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS you would lie and you did!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

You are crazy, but I am too, so it is okay!! {{{hugsss}}}


7 Bev February 23, 2013 at 10:02 pm

You two, Joan and Sherry, have me LMBO. :). I am glad turtle is OK.


8 Sherry Riter February 23, 2013 at 11:29 pm

😀 We are a bunch of nuts and love it! I’m so glad we made you laugh. I always tell Joan that we should do a comedy act together. LOL {{{hugsss}}}


9 Sue February 23, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Oh my, Sherry, this is such a wonderful turtle story. I enjoyed reading it and never knew turtles were so funny sometimes. Maybe turtle needs a tank buddy.


10 Sherry Riter February 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Bite you tongue!!! I can’t imagine double the poop! LOL


11 Skip_D February 24, 2013 at 2:24 am

The Turtle
by Ogden Nash
The turtle lives ‘twixt plated decks
Which practically conceal its sex.
I think it clever of the turtle
In such a fix to be so fertile.

I’m afraid that Joan has a point… turtles include biting their partners’ shells in the range of their pré-coital behaviors, so turtle could well have been enamored of the anemone! Turtle might have been in the throes of amorous intoxication when you found him hanging on to the anemone!

there’s one other thing you should know… all turtles, & especially aquatic turtles, can go for a surprisingly long time between breaths, & in addition, there is evidence that some aquatic turtles are capable of cloacal breathing – that is, transferring oxygen & CO2 through the lining of their cloaca (in other words, their bum)! …so it would be very difficult for turtle to drown unless he became trapped under something he couldn’t move.

all that being said, this is one of the most delightful posts you’ve ever written, & Turtle reveals more of his very unique personality! 🙂


12 Sherry Riter February 24, 2013 at 5:58 am

Cute poem!

Hmmm…Do you really think that Turtle was trying to mate with that red sea anemone? It is nice to know that he he can’t drown easily. He had me and Alyssa so upset!

Yes, he is unique, that’s for sure! LOL


13 teresa vett February 25, 2013 at 4:22 pm

LOL, so turtle is horny? Now he bit that object and your hand can be next since you took his play thing a way. So be carefulllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll. Seriously, you might have to kill him to make him let go if he bites you.


14 Sherry Riter February 25, 2013 at 5:41 pm

OH MY! That would be terrible! I am careful. I don’t trust him one bit. I’ve seen how he gobbles up guppies and it isn’t a pretty sight! Mean ole Turtle!


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