Scuttles the wonder turtle
Latifah Muhammad has always been fond of turtles. There’s
a turtle made of wood hanging on a swing on the front porch of
her home. There’s one sculpted from metal just a few feet
below that one and more artistic renderings of all sorts of turtles
inside the house.
“People at work call me turtle because I’m so slow
sometimes,” Muhammad laughs. “Slow and methodical.
It may take me a while but I always get it done!”
The most important turtle in Muhammad’s life is slightly
larger than the palm of your hand and spends most of her time in
an aquarium in the living room.
“Some friends of mine found her one day when they were
out fishing,” Muhammad recalls. “She was so tiny — just
a baby. They knew how much I liked turtles, so they decided to
bring her home to me.
“I named her Scuttles because she is the fastest turtle
I’ve ever seen. If I take her out of the aquarium when I’m
cleaning it she will run across the floor,” says Muhammad.
Scuttles is a semi-aquatic turtle and a relatively common breed
known as the Red Eared Slider.
According to turtle experts, she could conceivably grow up to
a foot in length and live as long as 75 years.
There’s no questioning Muhammad’s fondness for the
turtle — she’s provided it with a sizable aquarium
and never stops short of lavishing her little friend with endless
“She has a little basking log that she likes to crawl out
of the water onto,” Muhammad explains. “She likes to
lay there and sun herself. When she gets too hot she’ll go
back underneath the log to cool off.
“Turtles don’t like a lot of handling,” Muhammad
continues. “If I have to pick her up her legs start going
like crazy. It’s interesting though, I can tell she has learned
to respond to my voice.
“I’ll say ‘Scuttles, Scuttles’ and she
calms down. If she’s under her rock I’ll call her name
and she’ll come out. She swims over to the edge of the aquarium
and scratches on the glass like she’s trying to get out.”
For the busy Muhammad, a Quality Improvement Analyst at the Youth
and Family Services Department of Social Services and a member
of the Board of Trustees at Charlotte’s gay and Lesbian Center,
Scuttles is a perfect pet — she doesn’t require a lot
“You wouldn’t think a turtle could have a lot of
personality,” says Muhammad. “But this one does. She’s
a busy little turtle and she can get noisy, too. It’s so
cute to watch her eat sometimes. You feed her these pellets and
she likes to break them in two pieces with her little paws.”