Interview with a box turtle fanatic

In this article we are going to talk to Heinrich Fruhler. Heinrich is a turtle fanatic that keeps a large selection of different turtle species. He has an especially impressive collection Asian box turtles but almost all turtle genus are represented in his collection.

McCords box turtle

Adult female McCords box turtle – Picture by Torsten Blanck

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Heinrich Fruhler. I was born in Germany but have lived most of my life in the United states. I work as a day trader and as a speaker. My speaking engagements are designed to help people be more responsible with their money or to help them learn how to start day trading themselves. One of the most important part of these speeches is to try convince people that day trading might not be for them. It can be a very lucrative profession. It has been for me. But most people who try to become day traders fail and lose a lot of money. They think it is easy money and underestimate the amount of work you have to put in to learn how to become successful.

When did you become interested in turtles?

I have always been interested in Turtles and other amphibians. One of my first memories is of watching a neighbors box turtle walking around on the law.

Have you kept turtles all your life?

No. I started keeping turtles after i finished University. Back then I could not keep too many species because I lived in a small apartment.

When did you star amassing your current collection?

I started “collecting” ( I do not like that word) turtle species when I moved to my first house in my mid thirties. My collection have only grown since then and this house was choose partly due the fact that it affords me the space to keep many species.

The goal has never been to collect turtles. I do not strive to keep as many species as possible nor to keep all species in a certain genus.

I might be better referred to as a turtle hoarder since I keep adding more, to me fascinating, species.

Is your goal to breed the turtles or simple to keep them?

I think all hobbyist have a responsibility to try to breed their turtles. This might not be true if you keep red eared sliders but I believe you should always try to breed more unusual species and species that are endangered in the wild. We hobbyist have a responsibility to breed our turtles in a ethical way and to document our work so that captive populations can serve as reassurance colonies that can be tapped if the species dies out in the wild or if it needs to be re-introduced into a certain area.

I think it is very important to never cross breed different sub species or turtles from different locations. Our goal should be to keep our strains as pure as possible.

You have some really rare and expensive species. How did you get them?

I have been an avoid turtle keeper for many years and have been lucky enough to meet a lot of other turtle keepers that I now am happy to call friends. Some of them have private collections. Other works for zoo and institutions. I get a lot of my turtles from other members within this network. They know that I am able to provide them with a good home and that I will be able to breed these rare turtles. I regularly trade turtles within this network. This helps us keep the gene pools diverse.

I am also a member of breeding programs for several rare species. These programs are filled with skilled turtle keepers that help maintain the population of these turtles.

Zhous box turtle. Picture by Torsten Blanck

You have a lot of Asian box turtles? How come?

I love these turtles and many of the species are endangered in the wild. This makes them an important part of the preservation for the breeding programs I am a part of. In short. I love these turtles and feel that i can a lot of good keeping them.

Looking at your collection you seem to have a preference for aquatic turtles?

Yes. I think that is fair to say. I do find them slightly more interesting and a lot easier to care for. I have always found terrestrial turtles to be harder to care for. I feel my time is best spent focusing my work on aquatic turtles.

Do you sell turtles?

I generally do not sell turtles to the public. I mostly trade turtles with other collectors or sell them to professional facilities that I know can give them the best possible care.

I am not against keeping turtles as pets ( how could I be ) but I think that the rare species I keep should be placed in experienced hands. There are better alternatives out there for some one who want to get their first few turtles.

What species do you recommend for a beginners?

The best beginner turtle is likely the very common red eared slider (or another slider species). They are cheap to buy, easy to care for and easy to breed if you want to try to breed turtles.

If you prefer a terrestrial turtle then I recommend a common box turtle or a ornate wood turtle (Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima). The ornate wood turtle can be hard to find in the trade but is very beautiful and very easy to care for.

What is the most important thing you want to tell turtle keepers out there?

To remember that turtles are animals and that they deserve care and attention just like a dog or a cat would. Too many get a turtle and neglect them because they do not think they need any care. Make sure that you know what a turtle needs and that you can provide that before you get one.

Thanks for your time!

Thank you

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