Concerned reptile and oddity lovers just have two things to say to the thief who snapped up the two-headed turtle who’s called Windsor Terrace home for the last few weeks: Slow down and think about what you’re doing.
Whoever you are, you’re probably endangering the little two-headed beastie.
At the same time, you’ve made an enemy of all of the people who are rallying behind the slow-moving sensation, who are offering a $1,000 reward for its safe return.
Never has a biological peculiarity grabbed so many New York newspaper headlines as animal rescuer and pet-store owner Sean Casey’s still unnamed pet — which has evoked thrills and the occasional chill from pedestrians walking past his store on East 3rd Street between Caton and Fort Hamilton Parkway.
Casey, the 27-year-old proprietor of the Hamilton Dog House, said that he received the yellow-bellied slider from a man in Florida about four months ago. The turtle hatched from a bunch of eggs that were rescued from the wild after its mother was run over by a car.
The little creature was in distress when Casey received it. After it was nursed back to health, the turtle became the Dog House’s official mascot as it sat in its own terrarium inside the store’s display window.
“It was always fun to watch,” Casey said, describing how his palm-sized pal would wow the crowd. “No one would ever notice it at first. They would say, ‘What a cute turtle,’ Then they would go ‘Oh God! Does it have two heads?’”
The silent shelled creature “caught everyone off guard” with its unassuming extra head, which, he explains, comes with its own set of problems.
Extra care must be given to the overly headstrong turtle, which actually fights with itself over food.
“You have to feed both mouths at the same time,” Casey explained. “If you don’t they squabble over the food. They don’t believe in taking turns.”
It’s terrarium has to have very little water, because if it falls on its back — as turtles are known to do — it could drown.
“When a turtle flips over, it uses its head to right itself,” explains Frank Gricco, a reptile handler at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island. “In this case, the turtle’s two heads will be pushing in different directions, so it would never be able to right itself.”
Gricco said that two headed turtles are “unusual but not unheard of.”
“It’s like Siamese twins,” he said.
Still, he admits that in his twenty years at the New York Aquarium he has never seen a two headed turtle before.
Casey claims that his store mascot was the second two-headed turtle he’s seen.
But it didn’t take long for him and the surrounding community to fall head over heels over its two heads, and it was just a matter of time before it gained some media attention — a step that may have led to its undoing.
Just hours after The Daily News posted an article about the turtle, someone pulled it out of the terrarium and ran away with it.
To Casey, this past Sunday morning was just like any other morning for him and his two-headed pal.
“We came in Sunday morning at 11 a.m., opened the doors, flipped [the turtle] over and fed him,” he said.
About an hour later, Casey was helping out a customer when one of the kids that comes in to look at the animals said, “Hey, where’s the turtle?”
Just like that, the turtle was gone, whisked away in a stranger’s hands without friends or an adoring public to help him — or for that matter a name, since The Daily News had just announced its own “Name the two-headed turtle” contest.
“The terrarium is in the front, someone must have just reached in and grabbed him,” said Casey, who believes that a neighborhood kid is probably to blame.
Since the theft, area residents and animal lovers have spread the word about how important it to have the turtle returned to its Kensington habitat. The reward has been posted and even cops from the 72nd Precinct had been notified, although it took some time for them to wrap their heads around the idea that there was a two-headed turtle-napper running free.
“Whoever took it probably won’t be able to take care of it and should return it,” said Gricco.
“[The thief] probably thinks it would be cool to have a two headed turtle, but we want it back — no questions asked,” Casey said.
Anyone with information regarding the turtle’s whereabouts can contact Casey at The Hamilton Dog House, (718) 436-PETS.