How to Care For Your Turtle

Turtles are unique pets; they are different to any other kind of pet, even other reptiles. They are amongst the oldest species around, and they are interesting to observe. Their hard outer shells and moving style that is different to most other pets makes them fun to watch.

Turtles are definitely hardy animals, but that does not mean they are not low-maintenance. Always do your research before you getting any pet.

Things to Consider before getting a turtle

Turtles have a long life span. Turtles live between 10 and 150 years depending on the species, so it is a life-long commitment. In general, however they live for about 50 years. Turtles also continue to grow for their entire life. The habitat needs to be kept clean. You need some specialized equipment for the health and well-being of your turtle.

What equipment does a turtle need?

Keeping a turtle requires some specialized equipment; make sure you have done your research on the turtle you have chosen. This makes it easier for you to get the right equipment. Do not bring home the turtle before you have all the necessary equipment.

  • Turtles need a habitat all of their own. It needs to be large enough for them to move around on dry land as well as in the water.
  • Light and heat. Reptiles are cold blooded creatures. That means they cannot regulate their body temperature. Turtles are reptiles. Special warming lamps are needed to keep the turtle healthy and able to digest.
  • Basking area. The area for the turtles to bask in, warm up and dry off, should be near the lamp but large enough to move if they get a little too warm.
  • Filtration system. Making sure your turtles have clean water to stay healthy is important. So is not having a room that stinks because of dirty water. Make sure to get a good quality filtration system.
  • Commercial pellets are perfect because they have been specially formulated. Don’t forget the treats. Turtles like the occasional live insect or worm, which is available at your local pet store. Adult turtles like a few greens too; they are especially fond of leafy greens.
  • Curious by nature, so adding things like fake plants, hidey holes and other décor to their home will not only give them a good place to relax but it will indulge their curious side.

Different turtle species

There are several different species of turtles. Each one with their own pros and cons. Before you decide to get a pet turtle make sure you know the requirements for your area. Some areas need a permit, some areas allow turtles as pets without a permit, then there are some areas that do not allow domestic turtles at all.

A few of the most popular pet turtles are:

  • The red eared slider – these cute little guys are great for beginners. In warmer climates an outside habitat is perfect for these guys. Make sure they have sufficient heat and light.
  • African sideneck turtle – this turtle is a little different, they cannot pull their head right into their shell, like other turtles. They are cute though.
  • The eastern box turtle is a smaller turtle. This turtle is quite shy and not too fond of being handled. They need a lot of water and warmth.
  • Western painted turtle – these attractive turtles learn who their family members are and will come out of hiding to see them. They do need a few hideaway spots in their habitat, which does have to have a basking area too.
  • Common musk turtles – are perfect for beginners. They are hardy little turtles that don’t need too much maintenance. A scared musk turtle will release a musty odor.

Why do I need to take my turtle to the vet?

Just like any other pet reptiles, turtles do fall ill. There are parasites that adhere to the exterior of reptiles, including turtles that can make them sick. Different parasites infest the stomach and other organs. Vets have to examine the turtle to make sure they are healthy and parasite free. Annual parasite checks are done with the standard check-up. To keep your turtle healthy our Vet will advise on a program to keep your pet parasite free.

Make sure to speak to your vet about keeping salmonella germs under control, turtles are carriers of the germ. Keeping the habitat and the turtle clean only goes a small way to controlling the germs. Always clean your hands thoroughly after touching the turtle or habitat.

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