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The children found a turtle in the yard this weekend.  A female Eastern box turtle (we think).  We all admired her shell, her ability to completely withdraw, and her age.  Hythe became particularly attached to her.  He held her and gently played with her for hours. Then he found a box and set it up as a home for her.  He took her to a party that night, named her Climber, and was quite devoted to her.  She got over her shyness and came out of her shell for Hythe.  We told him that he would have to put the turtle back in the woods that night, but when the time came, he cried furiously and said he wanted to keep her as a pet.  We decided there was no use arguing with a tired child, so we kept Climber until the morning.  I did a little on-line research (as you do when up against an issue you know next to nothing about) and found out that box turtles are hard keepers – they can live up to 100 years in the wild, but can die within 3 days in captivity, and that healthy captivity requires a lot of habitat manipulation and equipment that we don’t have.  In the morning, Hythe came to me and I explained what I had learned about keeping turtles as pets.  He said, “I’ll let her go this morning.”  Which is what he did.  He shed a few tears, too, as he watched her crawl away.

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