RIP Hole - You Left a Hole in Our Hearts
Animal Stories from


American Tortoise Rescue
June 2014

Hole will be sadly missed because of his wonderful gentle nature and refusal to let the pet trade make him a statistic.

Hole tortoise turtle

Just after World Turtle Day this May 23, 2014, we discovered our beloved Gulf Coast box turtle "Hole" had succumbed to old age. He died peacefully in his house alongside a friend of his, a small box turtle with no name. We buried them together as they crossed the rainbow bridge arm in arm, tail in tail.

Hole tortoise turtleHole was named after a prominent hole someone cruelly drilled in the front of his shell to tether him years ago. He arrived at American Tortoise Rescue 20 plus years ago after being caught in the wild near his gulf coast home and shipped to a pet store in Los Angeles. I received a call from the pet store manager asking me if I would come in and look at one of the turtles who had been pretty much unresponsive all week - not eating or moving. When I arrived, there was Hole, once a big brave box turtle, now lying on the counter with a runny nose and his eyes swollen shut. I told the manager I could take him home and try to nurse him back to health with antibiotics, so he eagerly agreed. But then he told me I'd have to pay half price for Hole. What the...???? Normally I would have said no because we do not buy turtles. However, Hole's fate clearly was dying in a box or being tossed in a dumpster still alive. I paid the $15 and took him home.

From the beginning, it was touch and go, but he made it and became one of the rescue's favorites. He lived outside year round always showing up for worms and loving his soaks in a plant saucer. His eyes were bright red with some white around the edges telling us that he was old. (Red eyes turn whiter as they age.) He was always a bright spot in our daily routine and was never a problem. During the more than 20 years we had Hole, his eyes turned completely white from red. We guessed his age at around 50 years or more.

Sadly many of these wild caught turtles and tortoises die from stress or shortly afterwards en route to pet stores or breeders or even well meaning people who don't know buying turtles and tortoises is a bad thing. This is why we adamantly oppose purchasing turtles at pet stores and have lobbied to have Petco and Petsmart stop selling them (they did for awhile but started up again when they wanted to make more money - exotics are an impulse buy and many die after they are purchased.)

Hole will be sadly missed because of his wonderful gentle nature and refusal to let the pet trade make him a statistic.

Thank you for being in our lives for so long.

Susan and Marshall

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