Murphy the Turtle Enjoys His 14th Birthday in His Bedford Library Home

Bedford Free Public Library’s southern painted turtle, Murphy, turns 14 this year! Courtesy Image

By Sharon McDonald

Have you met Murphy the turtle? He lives in a 50-gallon tank on Children’s Librarian Nicole Monk’s desk at the Bedford Free Public Library.

Fourteen years worth of kids have grown up with him. He is a southern painted turtle, (naturally colored, of course!) and he, like all his southern cousins, has an orange line right down the middle of his shell.

Southern painteds are not an endangered species, and he was not caught in the wild. He came via FedEx from a breeder in Florida and you never saw a turtle so happy to get out of a box!

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I used to be the Children’s Librarian long ago, so I was there to meet him when he arrived at the Library. Of course, I wore my red shirt to make him feel welcome. (Many kinds of turtles are attracted to that color – really – because some of the fruits they like are red.)

Over the years, kids have learned a lot about Murphy. He likes to eat turtle pellets, but live meal worms and cooked shrimp are a special treat. When I was the librarian, I didn’t always throw his food into the water. I liked to feed him from my fingers. But two or three times, my little finger looked too much like a shrimp, and he chomped on me. “Let go, Murphy! Let go!”

According to Indigenous legend, a turtle won’t let go until someone sneezes. (This is ALMOST true.)

He likes to eat romaine lettuce (no iceberg for Murph, says he). Miss Nicole, does he still climb atop the leaf to float around on top of the water like Cleopatra on the royal barge? Then – yum. He eats it from the middle out.

Murphy the Turtle is celebrating his 14th birthday. He lives in the Children’s Room at the Bedford Free Public Library. Photo by Wayne Braverman

He enjoyed being feted recently at a splendid birthday party organized by Miss Nicole, even though he did not actually come out of his tank and join the party.

Most turtles don’t like being handled, but Murphy does enjoy being sung to. Sometimes when he hears you sing, he’ll even open his eyes and look right at you. His favorite song seems to be “Happy Birthday” – he thinks EVERY day is his birthday.

I hope Bedford children will be singing to him for many years to come. Painted turtles live to be 30 or 40 years old.

Mention my name – I think he still remembers me (or perhaps it was all that shrimp).

Sharon McDonald served as the Children’s Librarian at the Bedford Free Public Library for many years.

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Kim Siebert
May 19, 2024 8:24 am

Murphy is 14??? Amazing!!! I’m so impressed! I think it’s Sharon’s singing that makes him look forward to the next day with anticipation and joy!

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