Gayle Jemison was enroute to a client’s home Sunday when she saw a redneck renegade attempting to make a getaway across the heat-softened tarmac of Live Oak Springs Canyon Road in Sand Canyon.
“He was moving pretty quickly through the intersection,” Jemison said. “But it was pretty hot, so I picked him up.”
The fugitive was a small turtle, about four inches wide and six inches long, attempting to cross the busy road near Saddleback Road. She took the small reptile back to her house and put him on the grass, reasoning that the turtle might be better off in the shade on the wet lawn.
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“I thought they ate lettuce and grass, so he should be OK,” she said. “I remembered that one of our neighbors had lost a tortoise about a month and a half ago, I don’t know anything about turtles, so I thought maybe this was a tortoise. I found their house, but they weren’t home, so I came back to my house to leave a note for my husband about the turtle on the lawn.
“I got back in my car about 15 minutes later and started down our street again when I saw a guy walking toward me with a turtle in his hand. I asked him if that was his turtle, and he said no, so I offered to take him home. He knew a lot more about turtles and told me it wasn’t a tortoise, so I knew it wasn’t my neighbor’s.”
With her busy schedule, Jemison knew she couldn’t go door to door looking for the turtle’s owner, so she turned to the media for help and sent out an e-mail blast to her homeowners association to let them know the turtle is safe and ready for pickup.
“That was Sunday, this is Tuesday and we’re still looking,” she said. On Monday, she took the turtle to her air-conditioned office in Valencia to beat the record-breaking heat. A co-worker bought it some turtle food, but apparently, the turtle has a stubborn streak.
“I do know that when turtles aren’t happy, they don’t eat,” Jemison said. Her husband did a little Google research on the turtle, which has a bright red stripe on its neck and they discovered that the turtle is a Red-Eared Slider.
“And of course, we named him Jeff, in honor of Jeff Foxworthy, because he’s a redneck,” she said, laughing.
According to ask.com, red eared sliders can grow up to 12 inches in length and need at least 10 gallons of water in their tanks for every inch they measure – in other words, they don’t thrive in little plastic bowls. They do well in ponds. They’re also kind of messy, which is why a lot of them live in outdoor ponds.
And even though Jeff is on a hunger strike right now, ask.com says they will beg for food, swimming or moving back and forth when they see someone coming with food. The website adds as a footnote, though, that “turtle obesity is a problem.”
“He doesn’t like being in the box we have him in, he wants to get out and move around and truck,” she continued. He’s healthy and strong. My husband thought he might be wild, but I think he’s somebody’s pet. We hope we can find his owner.”
If Jeff is your turtle or you can help with an owner-pet reunion, call Jemison at home – 661-252-8207 and leave a message or call their office at 661-259-5952.