Chelonian history Part II

Status
Not open for further replies.

Kapidolo Farms

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Nov 7, 2012
Messages
5,089
Location (City and/or State)
South of Southern California, but not Mexico
This obit was written for and published in the Tortuga Gazette. I have followed that with some additional information. The point to this post is to make an internet 'forever' record of Harold's spectacular accomplishment, and to survey who may be in this same category of breeder.

*************

Mr. Roger Gephardt, a USFWS warden for the central valley, first introduced Harold Carty to me. I had occasion to speak with Mr. Gephardt about my interest in chelonians, and he suggested that Harold would be a good person to get to know. Harold sent me a price list shortly after an initial phone call, and I purchased two three-striped mud turtles, which he delivered to me in Fresno, about a 40-minute drive south from his farm in Chowchilla. “Turtle Breeders, Harold and Naoma Carty, No visits allowed, please don’t ask” was at the top of the price list. I hoped for an invitation to the farm, I was in college at the time, and had little money to spend on turtles. Harold was frequently willing to spend a great deal of time with me on the phone to talk about our mutual interest, but no invitation for a visit was forthcoming.

It seemed that Harold had a long time interest in wildlife of all sorts, he had traveled to central and south America, and extensively in the US. He was a competitive free diver (no tanks of air) and spear fishermen. Harold quickly learned that the big competition-winning fish were often in the deepest water, in and among large rocks or sunken logs. It was during these dives that Harold found many turtles as well, and as his appreciation for wildlife moved to captives, he included turtles. This could be considered a natural progression of interest for many of us, but with Harold, it was even more ingrained as he ran a dairy farm, and animal husbandry was his livelihood.

Harold displayed in aquarium club events, and sought to exhibit large tanks with beautiful fish as many did, but he also included turtles, invertebrates and other likely aquatic fauna and flora from the fish’s habitat. These large naturalistic aquaria won many prizes, as these were major cutting edge innovations for captive animal display and husbandry during the 60’s and 70’s. As laws changed, exotic and baby turtles were less and less available, so Harold started to turn his attention to breeding turtles in stock ponds and tanks at his farm. Then in the 80’s when dairy farmers were ‘over producing’ milk our government bought out many herds, Harold retired from the dairy business and focused his extensive husbandry skills on farming turtles and tortoises.

Naturally I still wanted to see the place where all this excitement went on, but having met Harold through a wildlife law enforcement officer and hearing from other people with similar visit interests suggest that it would be unlikely that Harold would allow such a chance, I let the idea go. Through a fortunate event, a meeting of the Sacramento Turtle and Tortoise Club, that both Harold and I wanted to attend, brought me that chance to visit his farm. Aside from the delivery of turtles to Fresno, I had not spent time with Harold in person. The several hours’ drive went so fast with conversation. I always felt welcome to speak with him on the phone, but after the trip to Sacramento, I felt we connected like two long separated brothers.

Many turtles their-selves, when considered among other reptiles, are gentle, unassuming and humble creatures. Similarly, Harold had these characteristics when considered among other people, and perhaps was sometimes misinterpreted, as turtles are. His nature was both confident and kind. He could interpret animal behavior as well as it can be done. This was in part due to the hours spent in the wild looking at turtles as well as watching them at his farm. Many visits to Harold’s farm lead to interesting conversations concerning the natural history of turtles, and what makes them tick. Harold’s first turtle experience, which he fondly recalled in conversation with me, was as a young boy, finding western pond turtles in the LA River, now a concrete drainage route. Many successes with chelonians in captivity are attributable to knowledge we have garnered from Harold. However, more so, his appreciation for wild turtles and tortoises was an even greater influence on me.

I have saved many price lists of Harold and Naoma’s annual offerings and from these it is easy to see that they breed over 100 taxa, at least a few from every continent where chelonians occur, but mostly north American species. Several additional taxa were often pre-sold, so they never made it to his price lists. Many zoos, classrooms and homes all over the world house turtles breed by Harold. Scientific studies of physiology and anatomy, taxonomy and systematics, ecology and natural history all benefited from visits to Harold’s farm, and the turtles he bred and sold. Harold’s knowledge of chelonians as wild animals and captives rarely made it to press directly from his pen, however much of his knowledge is represented in many scientific and hobbyist writings through others who would spend many hours on the phone with the original Turtle Breeder.

William H. Espenshade III

**************

These are the further comments, not in the Tortuga Gazette.

I no longer have these saved price lists, to bad for posterity and all, but good for me as I have moved many times and that box of price lists got annoying. Harold passed in November of 2003.

So how many species did Harold breed? I don't have an exact number, he may have kept one in his mind but he never mentioned it to me. He did breed EVERY native species in the United States except chicken turtles and sonoran mud turtles. He bred all know and a few unknown sliders. He bred all the European Testudo. He bred many of the Mexican mud and both central American musk turtles, but not the narrow-bridged. He bred many Phyrnops before that genus was split into many. He bred the helmeted mud and many pelusious. He bred red and yellow foot, Leopards and sulcata (they did not pyramid either). He bred aquatic box turtles and a few other Mexican box turtles species. He bred several types of Aussie side necks, Chelodina and Emydura, as well as a few from the region but not Aussie. Harold was not so big on seeking Asian animals, but those few he had some of were also bred.

The only species he offered for sale from his list that he did not breed himself was Podoc. u. The other side of that coin, is that many many dealers across the US offered chelonians that Harold bred, and just increased the price by some margin. Larry Lantz was the most prolific at selling chelonians bred at "turtle breeders"

So a few cryptic taxa have been designated new since Harold's last years breeding from US natives, but that at least starts the count at 50+. His total is a bit over 100. I know there are more specie-ous collections and I know a few people breed thousands of a few species. That is not the count here. The count here is most species bred, by an individual.

So that makes the math simple to start at 50 species. I know a few others here in the US that meet that marker, and their efforts are not parallel to Harold's,

All of Harold's efforts were as a private individual. I've bred Dermatemys mawi in a zoo (I was the primary keeper, zoo successes are never the result of one person), so that would not count for my own total, see what I mean by 'as a private individual'?

Will
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
88,990
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
I used to have a couple pictures of Harold's incubators. Too bad I can't find them. Very interesting stuff. It was a huge operation. I remember seeing many, many cement "ponds" that used to have been for the dairy operation, but now were used solely for turtle breeding. He just seemed to "know" when a certain female was about to lay her eggs, and he would get her out of the pond and place her where he could get the eggs when she passed them.

I wasn't interested in sulcatas at that time, so I really didn't pay good attention, but I remember that he had about 10 old refrigerators that the backs had been removed off of. He then laid them down on the ground on their backs and removed the motor and the bottom, making that the door for the tortoises. I think he had some sort of cover over the space to keep out the cold air. The sulcatas would go into the refrigerators and there was no heat in there. I don't know for sure, but I THINK they always lived outside with the refrigerators for their shelter. Chowchilla is in the Central Valley of California and it sometimes freezes overnight. But he kept them alive and raised babies from them.

Oh how I wish I had paid better attention. I was seeing history in the making and wasn't aware enough to take note.
 

Kapidolo Farms

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Nov 7, 2012
Messages
5,089
Location (City and/or State)
South of Southern California, but not Mexico
Some more of a visual recollection, to add to emysemys.

His main aquatic hatchling rearing room had been the super insulated milk room, where milk was held until picked up by tanker truck. It was warm, had great temp control and several dozen aquariums. Just outside was a row of refrigerators standing up, and all warmed with flood light on thermostate for incubation. He like the light as it was instantly informing of whether the 'heat source was working.

As hatchlings grew they had solar and milk room water running through to keep the temps up year-round. and bug zappers above, which killed lots of bugs, that fell in the water and fed the turtles.

Some people humorously called his main ponds turtle soup, as there were many species mixed, but it had a 100% water change every other irrigation. He drained and refilled one each irrigation period, so one was alway filling.

As a dairy man, getting up early was no problem, and he would simply walk his pond and see the female laying, get the eggs and incubate. He aso had "traps" set around on the ground to catch babies that hatched from undetected nests.

The refrigerator hibernation places were used for all the tortoises. Redfoots and yellowfoots were brought into one of the many outbuildings for the winter.

Harold also had an Alligator or two in a stock pond, that got him in some trouble. Cal Fish and Game treated him very harshly for it. Those who live in the central valley might know Ray Appleton of KMJ - he took on Harold's cause to back Cal F&G off of from Harold, I don't know how much effective that was, but it was interesting to see the number one radio newsman in the area take on such a cause.

Harold got most of his education regrading the turtles from the turtles them-self, through careful observation and interpretation.

Will
 

Jacqui

Wanna be raiser of Lemon Drop tortoises
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Aug 28, 2007
Messages
39,497
Location (City and/or State)
A Land Far Away...
emysemys said:
Oh how I wish I had paid better attention. I was seeing history in the making and wasn't aware enough to take note.

Isn't that sadly how it normally goes? :(
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,395
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Jacqui said:
emysemys said:
Oh how I wish I had paid better attention. I was seeing history in the making and wasn't aware enough to take note.

Isn't that sadly how it normally goes? :(

Ditto for me.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,395
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Will, How did he raise his sulcata hatchlings to get them smooth?
 

Susantull

New Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Messages
1
I am Harold Carty's oldest grandchild. I have many great memories as a kid on the ranch in the 70s and 80s and on south of the border trips in the VW van. Thank you for the fond rememberance.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
88,990
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Oh, Susan! We're so very glad to have you here with us on the Forum!! Do you share grand pop's love of turtles and tortoises? How did you hear about the Forum? Is your Gramma, Naomi, still with us?
 

Hsullivan

New Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2012
Messages
1
[split] Chelonian history Part II

Will, I am one of Harold' grandaughter's (Susan's) younger sister. I just want to say thank you so much for the wonderful write-up about my grandfather! I grew up in the city, but relished getting to spend my summers on the farm exploring the hundreds of acres filled with turtles and various other reptiles. As a child, I had no idea the extent of what my grandfather was actually doing or the value his "hobby" had in the reptile world - so it is wonderful to hear people such as yourself speak of him in such a way. He was a very special man to us and we certainly grew up with very unique childhoods!
 

Yellow Turtle

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2012
Messages
1,608
Location (City and/or State)
Indonesia
I'm curious to know what happens to the farm now. Its there someone taking care of all Harold turtles now?
 

Kapidolo Farms

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Nov 7, 2012
Messages
5,089
Location (City and/or State)
South of Southern California, but not Mexico
Yellow Turtle said:
I'm curious to know what happens to the farm now. Its there someone taking care of all Harold turtles now?

I frankly don't know the hard facts, I had moved to the the other side of the US a few years before Harold had passed. I understand his wife assigned the task of disposition to people she felt would do a good and fair job of it. His collection as a collection is lost.

Will
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
88,990
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Harold belonged to the Cen-Val Chapter of the California Turtle and Tortoise Club and as such had a few close friends who shared his interest. Those friends took charge of selling off Harold's turtles and tortoises.
 

SandraCarty

New Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2013
Messages
1
1bot.jpg Will, I had hoped that my brother would reply to this hx post but as he hasn't I decided that I would. He could tell you so much more than I but I have a few things that might be of interest. I sent hundreds, perhaps thousands of pictures that Dad had taken of the tops and bottoms of turtles to a woman who I believe was President of the Turtle and Tortoise society in Fresno right after Dad died. I don't remember her name. He died 10 years ago in November.

Mom is in Eureka near my sister Cheryl in assisted living. She has had brain surgery for 3 meningiomas in the last year and an half but is doing fairly well.

I still have some of the price lists that you spoke of in your piece, just couldn't throw them all out. Strange attachment huh?

To the real reason for my post here today. I am sending an attachment of something of Dad's I ran across in boxes the other day. They were professional freeze dried many years ago. The bags they were in are labelled with snake names so I was wondering if you or anyone could identify these little beauties. I would think that they were important because he went to the trouble to preserve them so beautifully but then what is important to one person is not important to another.

Oops,
 

Attachments

  • 1top.jpg
    1top.jpg
    1.1 MB · Views: 48
  • 2bot.jpg
    2bot.jpg
    825.2 KB · Views: 32
  • 2top.jpg
    2top.jpg
    1.2 MB · Views: 38
  • 3bot.jpg
    3bot.jpg
    116.9 KB · Views: 26
  • 3top.jpg
    3top.jpg
    673.9 KB · Views: 30
Last edited by a moderator:

Kapidolo Farms

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Nov 7, 2012
Messages
5,089
Location (City and/or State)
South of Southern California, but not Mexico
Sorry to hear about your Mom, but am glad she is near one daughter.

You know I never met any of 'the kids' but Harold spoke of you all often. My own myopic interest was to learn from your Dad, he held so much knowledge in his head, like he had an insight like no other, but maybe one or two people I have met.

I can't help with those tortoises in the images, they appear to me as species in the Testudo genus, or as they are commonly known as "Mediterranean tortoises". I forget the name of the person, but someone in a lab at Loma Linda University was who prepared those mounts. With some little bits of data some museum may find value in them as specimens, but not the same value you may find in them.

Will
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
88,990
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Hi Sandra:

I'm the one you sent the pictures to. I never knew who they came from, it was only a return address on the package from SoCal. I appreciated receiving them, and knew they were Harold's, just never knew who they came from.

So sorry to hear about your mom. I hope she gets better soon. Please tell her hello from me.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top