How to Take Care of Turtles?
So you’re thinking about adopting a turtle - or maybe you just inherited one and aren’t sure how to care for it.
The good news is, as far as pets go, turtles are on the low-maintenance end. They do, however, require more than just a tank and some water. Let’s explore the types of turtles you can have as pets and how to care for them.
Pet turtles can be friendly and engaging.
Turtles won’t cuddle in your lap like a cat or follow you around the house like a dog. They do have the potential to interact with their humans, provided you socialize them properly. Some turtles will even get excited to see their people enter the room.
Just because they don’t play fetch doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining. A healthy and cared for turtle can be fascinating to observe in their habitats. Feeding and taking your turtle outside inappropriate weather can also be enjoyable for all parties.
Proper pet turtle care starts with the right environment. Aquatic turtles need a tank with both water and land, and plenty of room for swimming. Box turtles don’t need so much water but do require a large space.
Turtle Care Indoor
For a smaller turtle, you should provide at least a thirty-gallon tank. Consider even larger tanks - over 75 gallons - for larger or adult turtles. These tanks take up a lot of space, so be sure they’ll have a place to fit into your home before committing to one.
Turtle Care Outdoor Enclosure
Plastic tubs and ponds are also an option for an outdoor turtle enclosure. An outdoor turtle pond should have access to land and basking spots as well as a sturdy filtration system. Fountains and waterfalls are an aesthetically pleasing way to provide extra oxygenation to the pond.
Aquatic Turtle Care
Aquatic turtles need space to swim and plenty of water in their tank. Sand or gravel at the bottom of the tank isn’t necessary, but many turtle owners use it with no issues. If you choose gravel, make sure the rocks are not so large that the turtle will suck them up and swallow them. Much as with any rare or unusual pets, the level of care necessary for the upkeep of your loved one is very high and as such getting the best exotic pet insurance is key.
A log or rock that protrudes out of the water is excellent for your turtle to bask - just be certain the turtle can easily access it from the water. Make sure it’s steady and won’t shift when your turtle climbs on it. Real aquatic plants are preferable to plastic ones when it comes to turtle housing. A variety of turtle-safe and easy to grow plants can be found in pet and garden stores. However, turtles are quite active and tend to disrupt plants that get in their way. You can keep aqua scaping to a minimum without any adverse side-effects to your turtle.
Heating and Lighting
A UV lamp is vital for a turtle’s growth and overall health. However, it’s crucial that your turtle gets proper benefits from their heat lamp. Too hot and too cool can be equally detrimental. Aim the UV lamp towards their log or rock - it should be no warmer than 95F and no cooler than 85F. The temperature of the water should hold steady at around fifteen degrees cooler than their land spot. This is where a tank heater comes in handy. The water needs a filtration system that keeps the water fresh in between tank cleanings.
What Do Turtles Eat?
Turtle diets can include commercial turtle food in the form of pellets. It’s best to provide a diverse diet for your turtle, though.
- In addition to pellets, offer freeze-dried foods like krill. Turtles also like live food such as worms and other insects. If you have an aquatic turtle, feeder fish provide an opportunity for your turtle to hunt live food.
- Some vegetables are acceptable for turtles, like lettuce and edible aquatic plants. Fruits are not recommended except for very occasionally.
- It’s advised that you should provide your turtle with a natural cuttlebone, to ensure they get all of their calcium needs.
Turtle Diseases and Symptoms
Turtles can become ill and need a vet, just like mammalian pets. If something happens and it looks like one of the below issues, you can get help from a company like Box Turtle Care. Some common illnesses to look out for include:
- “Softshell.” Symptoms include a soft or broken shell, broken bones, and weakness.
- Sinus and respiratory infections. Watch for wheezing, discharge, weakness, lethargy, excess mucus.
- Parasites. Diarrhea and weight loss are common symptoms.
- Fungal infections and shell rot. Swelling and spots on the skin or shell can indicate a fungal infection.