KAIJU, THE CHELONIAN DINOSAUR
Ican’t remember the exact date, but that should be sometime midjanuary, 2000. About two months previously, I acquired a blue-phase iguana and while it made an interesting pet with its hearty appetite and almost powdery blue color, I wanted a more responsive animal. Or should I say, I wanted a more aggressive animal.
At that time, I was keeping venomous snakes, which included a King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), a Philippine cobra (Naja philippinensis), Malayan moccasins (Calloselasma rhodostoma), death adders (Acanthophis antarcticus), and arboreal vipers from the genera Trimeresurus and Tropidolaemus. I had honed my herpetocultural skills enough that I could work with often belligerent animals with little worry of getting bitten, so I wanted a little more excitement, so to speak. The opportunity came January of that year when a friend asked me if he could trade his tiny alligator snapper for my iguana. He knew I was on the lookout for a more spirited reptile. Days later, he came over with a turtle with about a two-inch shell -- the little beast was smaller than the diameter of my palm. I had a five-gallon tank I prepared in advance for the little chap’s arrival, with some feeder fishes inside, then allowed the turtle to settle in for a few days.
On the second day, I observed the turtle starting to stalk the fishes but would not seem to catch one, so I fed it with thawed freshwater shrimps, which it ate, albeit with some hesitation. A few days later, I noticed rocks covered with slime and it wasn’t until a few more days after that that I was finally able to determine what was going on: I saw the reptile swallow rocks to be used as gastroliths to aid digestion, in much the same way as crocodilians did.