The Story of Sheldon

Sheldon vs. the Apple

I would like to officially introduce Sheldon as a resident of Willowbrook Farms. His welcome is well beyond due considering he came to us on May 10th, 2018.

Granted, those of you who follow us on Instagram and Facebook have already been introduced to him via different photos and posts – for those of you who don’t follow us on those two mediums, perhaps you should consider *winks*

General Information:
Intake date: May 10th, 2018.
Estimated Age: 30 years old
Species: 3-toed North American Box Turtle
Reason for Intake: Owner Surrender, voluntary

The Story of Sheldon:
Sheldon was not an intentional rescue – but somehow he found us.

His note.

Per the note by his previous owner, he was found around 1990 in the wild and was brought inside to a life of captivity. Fast forward to May 1018, we had just returned from our trip to the Gentle Barn in Missouri and were going to file an application for adoption for a turkey we named Benjamin.

Brian, Vice President of WFAS, was standing in a store line talking to his friend about Benjamin. When he hung up the phone the woman in front of him turned and asked him about taking her box turtle. She explained to Brian and Tracy, the Treasurer, they had him for a very long time and were wanting to get rid of him. She explained that she did not think Shelly was getting the exercise or attention he needed – which is actually a good animal person (don’t take on what you don’t want or can’t afford). She mentioned possibly turning him loose into the wild, which would have inevitably ended in his death because of his now-reliance on human care.

Brian and Tracy gave her our information and asked her to call us if she wanted to hand him over to the sanctuary.

And she did.

Within 4 days of the conversation “Shelly” was delivered to the house in his home with a half-bag of bark substrate and 2 small styrofoam containers of live worms.

Sheldon in his old room.

Sheldon arrived in the above setup (the plastic food container is mine, not part of his delivered home). While I appreciate his previous owner had kept him safe, his setup was not quite what it

You can see the circled nail on one of his toes here.

should be AND his nails were extremely long – to the point of growing back into his feet and preventing him from pulling his bag legs into his shell.

I knew this was an urgent situation and found someone to help with his care (since I’d never had a turtle before, I only knew it was bad, not how to fix it … although I know now!).

He received quick care and I purchased all that was needed to get him into a better living space.

With his newly trimmed nails and new room, Sheldon retreated to the quiet for a couple of days, sleeping non-stop. I really was worried that he wasn’t moving that much – but after a couple of days, I think he just wanted the rest (it may have been the emotional trauma from the nail trimming – that definitely was not on his to-do list for the week).

While he was resting comfortably, I was worried about how I was going to get him to eat an appropriate turtle diet that contains much more plant matter than animal protein – only earth worms is not the proper diet for a turtle. He has ended up transitioning to a quality turtle food that includes mealworms, pellets, dried fruit, and some vegetable matter. In the end, besides providing Sheldon a new life filled with plenty of outside time, UV lights and lots of attention, all the worms were released into my backyard to live their lives out as long as they were meant to have (roughly 36 worms were saved that rainy night).

So what are the lesson’s learned with Sheldon:

  1. When we run into a person who wants to relinquish an animal, take their information rather than giving ours (made for a stressful 2 days waiting on a call!)
  2. Turtle nails can be trimmed with cat nail trimmers
  3. Turtles love to blow bubbles in the water
  4. Turtles have pretty distinct personalities and may be able to smile (although the jury is still out on this one)
  5. If you see a wild animal, regardless of how cute it is OR how easy it is to get your hands on them, just leave them in the wild. They’ll do much better living a life on their own than one in captivity (I really think Sheldon looks longingly out our window).
  6. Turtles are not necessarily cheap pets even though the general care is pretty easy. It cost me well over 200$ to get him into the inside home he needed – a donation would help offset those costs and make sure we have money on hand to treat animals as they get sick OR get new animals into the proper housing as we rescue.

Interested in supporting our efforts, or specifically – Sponsoring Sheldon? Consider a donation via PayPal ( or Venmo (@WillowbrookFarms). Every dollar helps!


3 thoughts on “The Story of Sheldon

  1. Some years ago, maybe ten years by now,,a lady who worked at my dentist’s office became a certified or licensed turtle person…an official in the care and housing of once-wild turtles of Indiana. She published a little book, has a turtle sanctuary which looks like an international turtle village with ‘ponds, housing, shade, grass, cool ground to walk or nap on…according to the book’s photos. The turtle lady and her turtle village are located in the general vicinity of your sanctuary. If you would like to have her contact info please let me know . Better yet, call the dentist’s office directly…that sort of thing would not be unusual for my dentist who has patients like me: Sally Sturgeon, DDS, E. 3rd St., Bloomington, In., 812.332-1406.

    Liked by 1 person

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