Caring for turtles and other reptiles is not the same as caring for traditional pets such as cats or dogs etc. Cats, dogs and other domesticated pets require a great deal more commitment and cost, although costs for turtle care can be high depending on the size and number of turtles you are getting.
Because a turtle is a reptile which can swim, (as it spends it’s time between land and water), it has specific needs and will require special care. Unfortunately many turtles that are kept in captivity die, because they are not given the correct care and attention that this cute little creature needs.
You should not be daunted about what is involved with caring for turtles. Providing they are given the correct love and attention such as diet, habitat and health, they can live for many, many years.
Getting the right home for your Turtle!
Probably the most important aspect when caring for turtles is their habitat. Any habitat created for turtles should closely resemble their natural environment as much as possible so make sure you do your research carefully.
The first thing you need to do is identify the species. Different species of turtle require different habitats. Box turtles, which are the most commonly kept turtle live only on land and must never be allowed in water as they can easily drown. While the red ear slider turtles live on both land and water and conversely must have a place where they can keep moist and be allowed to swim.
Most people associate turtles as slow moving creatures that don’t require a lot of living space, but don’t be fooled most turtles are very active and require spacious quarters. For example a 12″ long adult red eared slider needs at least 55 gallon water tank.
The turtle enclosure should also include a dry area where the turtle can bask, as well as a protected hideaway where it can go when it feels anxious which will probably happen a lot when you first bring your pet home. If you have a burrowing turtle it will need to have brush, leaves and straw inside the enclosure where the turtle will happily make it’s home. Do not use bark or chipped wood as the turtle could eat this and become ill.
What do I feed a turtle?
Turtles are what are known as Omnivorous which means that they eat both vegetation and meat as part of their staple diet. In order for them to grow and develop a strong shell they will need a diet high in calcium and vitamin D3.
The types of food that a turtle will eat include:
– Pre-killed mice
– Insects including snails, earthworms, and bugs which are rich in calcium.
– Vegetation that is rich in calcium and vitamin D3 include blackberries, dandelion, carrots and turnip greens.
When caring for a turtles feeding requirements you will also have to consider how much food to provide. As a general rule a turtle’s stomach is only about the size of it’s head, so any meal should consist of the amount of food required to fill the reptiles stomach.
The frequency of feeding depends on the species, but usually young turtles will need to be fed every day with enough food only to fill their stomachs and ideally you would continue this on into adulthood, however it is not uncommon to feed adult turtles a larger meal every 2 – 3 days.
5 more Turtle Care Tips
Here are some other useful tips that should be followed when caring for turtles.
Tip #1 – Ensure your turtle has enough room to live and move around in.
Tip #2 – It will also light and shade and a basking lamp.
Tip #3 – If you use tap water for the swimming area wait at least 24 hours to remove the chlorine. Only use spring water for drinking.
Tip #4 – Keep you pet turtle away from small children and other pets as it can easily become stressed.
Tip #5 – Caring for turtles involves good hygiene and to avoid the spread of salmonella and other harmful bacteria make sure you wash your hands before and after handling your turtle.