Carrie Moran: She had one turtle, then hundreds

Written by David Green.


If it’s shaped like a turtle, decorated with turtles or is otherwise related to turtles, Carrie Moran probably owns it.

The Morenci resident avidly collects turtles and turtle-themed merchandise. Not so much by design, she said, but because everyone she knows buys her turtle paraphernalia.

“It’s hard to find stuff I don’t have,” Carrie said.

Carrie’s collection began about three years ago when she was at a pet store and saw a live turtle that she couldn’t resist buying.

The three-toed box turtle caught her eye when she noticed it could float on water.

“I thought he was cute,” she said.

The turtle, which she named Albert, found a new home with Carrie. A few months later Alfred, a Russian tortoise, joined him.

The differences between the turtle and the tortoise are hardly noticeable at a quick glance, but a closer look reveals that Alfred, the tortoise, can’t retreat completely inside his shell and he is rounder than the turtle.

“He doesn’t go in water very well, either,” Carrie said.

 In addition to Albert and Alfred—both land animals—Carrie keeps two red-eared sliders, Tiny and Mr. Bigs, as pets.

The sliders are aquatic turtles and live in a large aquarium with a few dry spots where they go to sun themselves in an artificial light.

“They are the pond turtles you might see,” Carrie said.

Turtle mania

Carrie’s real collection consists not of the live turtles she owns, but the many turtle-themed items accumulated over the past three years.

“It’s getting to be a little much,” she said.

The first sign of Carrie’s collection is evident on the door of her bedroom, where a sign announcing a “turtle crossing” hangs. Once inside, more  turtle treasures can be found.

There’s a turtle-shaped wallet, turtle wind chimes and a turtle soap-dispenser. She even found a miniature version of a kid’s turtle-shaped sandbox.

“I can’t even tell you where I’ve gotten most of this stuff,” she said.

Wall hooks, a jewelry box, a picture frame, a bike horn, a magnifying glass and a tic-tac-toe set are a few more unusual turtle objects Carrie owns.

Two items from her collection are especially important, Carrie said. A friend brought a clay turtle-shaped candle holder to her from a trip to Bangladesh and a turtle carved out of a Brazil nut was an engagement gift from her fiancé, Chuck Harsh.

“The Brazil nut turtle is my favorite,” she said.

Carrie set up a “turtle garden”—like a flower garden—in one corner of her room with eight brightly colored turtle-shaped lamps surrounded by a white picket fence. A different mosaic design decorates the shell of each lamp.

From a 3-foot tall turtle won at the county fair to tiny bobbing head turtles for the dash of a car, Carrie’s collection is endless. She’s not even sure how much stuff she has, but counting it would take quite a while, she said.

“Chuck says I have to confine it to one room when we get a house,” she said.

Carrie’s collection of turtles runs the gamut from what you might expect—stuffed animals—to unique, one-of-a-kind items—a magnifying glass and wallet. She’s got so much stuff she could open a museum and give tours, one friend joked.

Everyday the collection grows because if it looks like a turtle, Carrie’s got to have it.

Caring for live turtles

Taking care of turtles is not much different than caring for a dog or cat, says Carrie Moran.

She has three tanks that house her four pets and each animal has individual needs.

The two aquatic turtles—Tiny and Mr. Bigs—live in a 50-gallon aquarium with fish, plants and two pillars that rise out of the water.

Although the turtles live mainly in the water, they do take a break to sun themselves occasionally. Carrie installed a special lamp in the tank that simulates sunlight. The light helps harden the turtles’ shells.

Tiny and Mr. Bigs eat fish and special turtle pellets, but Albert—a three-toed box turtle—and Alfred—a Russian tortoise—are herbivores. Carrie feeds them canned mixed vegetables. Each animal resides in his own tank with plenty of dry bedding and a small pool of water to cool off in.

Every two months, Carrie bathes the land turtles and rubs their shells with a special turtle wax. She also puts drops in their eyes to keep them moist and healthy.

Carrie’s pets also receive an occasional vitamin supplement and medicine to prevent worms.

    – Aug. 7, 2002 
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