Turtles are always exciting to watch due to their fascinating colors and beautiful markings. Without a doubt, they are one of the most engaging pets to play with. They have appealing personalities and are known for their endless hunger for food and recognizing their owners. This article deals with a complete guide towards turtle care.
As a beginner, if you are willing to purchase a turtle, you need to learn many things about their habits, their care, and the way you need to handle them. Actually, turtles don’t like to be handled. They love spending time alone. They can live up to 20 to 30 years if treated properly. You might have to invest more if you are considering keeping a turtle as your pet in contrast to keeping a cat or a dog. This article will guide you to nurture your turtle well.
Setting Up Your Turtle’s Home
Initially, you should set up the right home for your turtle, keeping in mind that they like a semi-aquatic environment. Turtles, based on their size, require an aquarium with 5 to 20 gallons of water. You should prepare your aquarium according to your breed, keeping in mind how much it can grow.
- Provide your aquarium with a screened lid to allow air passage.
- You may also create a sloped area above the water level using aquarium gravel.
- To provide a mixture of wet and dry habitat, place some rocks so that turtles can sun and warm. Be careful about cleaning the stones regularly with untreated water.
- Wooden blocks or bricks can also be used to give them a land area. Keep the surface sloped towards the water to provide them with easy access to it. Moreover, the fungus can grow so quickly with such materials. Either clean them frequently or avoid these types of materials.
- You can utilize plastic and clay for shelter.
For decoration, plants can be used, but keep your eyes open if your turtle eats them and gets sick. It is advised to use artificial plants instead.
Turtle Care: How To Keep Your Turtle Healthy?
Your turtle may take three or four days to settle into the new home. If you observe any unnatural activity, do concern a specialist. If your turtle is spending more time hiding, taking minimal food or drink, suffering from weight loss, skin discoloration or swollen joints, or having discharge from the eyes and nose, it’s an alerting sign. It may have been affected by a virus or disease. Firstly clean the pond or tank, change the water and wash it gently with soap. Moreover, proper lighting and moderate temperature are required as turtles are very sensitive.
Essential Lighting and Maintaining Temperature For Turtle Care
One of the most crucial aspects that turtle owners often neglect is proper lighting and adequate temperature. For proper growth, health and nourishment, turtles need highly controlled temperature and lightning.
According to CrowdWriter, “They require two types of ultraviolet rays; UVA and UVB, for healthy growth. UVA keeps its reproduction and feeding system fit, and UVB ensures the absorption of calcium by the synthesis of vitamin B3. Like all the other reptiles, they are also ectotherms needing different temperature zones to regulate the body temperature accordingly.”
Keep the temperature of water between 72 to 77 F. Maintain the temperature of wet areas in the habitat from 75 to 85 F, and for the dry side, it must be from 85 to 90 F. However, at night, you may turn off the basking light, and the temperature can be reduced to 65 F.
You may use different types of bulbs that can fulfill the UVA and UVB requirements and place temperature maintenance and measuring instruments to keep the habitat friendly for your turtle.
Nutrients Needed For Your Turtle Care
A pet owner should be preventive when it comes to feeding a turtle. Keep a good balance in the diet. Offer a variety of food from plant matter to some worms. You should feed your turtle 2 or 3 times a week. However, it depends upon the type of your animal. You are required to do a bit of research on the particular breed you have.
Turtle Care: What to Feed?
Turtles are primary carnivores. You should feed them with mealworms, snails and small fishes in the beginning, but as they move towards their adult age, they like more plant matter. You may then feed them with turnips, watermelons, etc.
Turtles also like green-leaf and red-leaf lettuce, dandelion leaves and some aquatic plants, including anacharis, water hyacinth, and water lettuce. These are easily available at the pet store. However, I would recommend avoiding iceberg lettuce as it has no such nutrients for your turtle.
Based on their species, you can provide them with commercial food. Check the care sheets at the pet store before feeding any supplement to your turtle. They are usually suitable for the turtle and are available in palette form. It often carries frozen-dried cricket, grasshoppers, shrimps, and different minerals and vitamins.
Make sure you do not provide them wrong food or on a very frequent basis. A timely right type of food is essential for the healthy growth of a turtle. They live a long life when provided with the proper nutrients as required.
Prepare A Feeding Area
I will recommend you to prepare a separate feeding area for the turtle care other than the tank. A small plastic bowl or a glass dish will do it for you. Most turtles defecate within a short period after feeding. So, keeping your turtle in the feeding area for some time will keep the tank clean. Also, avoid overfeeding to keep the waste down.
Best Practices For A Beginner To Take Care of Their Turtle
Taking care of a turtle is not an easy task. You need to commit hard working if you are buying a turtle. Turtle lovers will definitely enjoy keeping a turtle. Below are some tips to keep your turtle happy.
- Turtles like a clean environment. Remove the waste and remaining food bits from the tank using a cloth or a net and change the water every 2 to 3 days. Or if you are using a water filter, then once in a couple of weeks is good enough.
- Clean the tank one time a month. While cleaning the tank, place your turtle in a temperature-controlled environment. Clean all the algae or any other growing from the tank using a scrub brush. There is no need to wash it with soap. However, do it quarterly in the year if you want. I will recommend using the Exo-Terra Turtle Habitat Cleaner.
- Turtles enjoy the sensation they receive while brushing. Brush your pet using a shell conditioner every month. You may routine it with the cleaning of the tank. It will groom your turtle, and you will be able to check for diseases or any sort of injury. Using the same brush, gently remove any algae if found.
- Be careful when you are taking out your turtle from the tank for playing. Sudden change in the temperature can harm their immune system and cause stress. They are cold-blooded and take time to adjust to the temperature. The best way is to maintain the room temperature, similar to the tank, before putting your turtle out.
- Always wash your hands before and after handling your turtle. Your turtle may carry Salmonella, which can affect you as well. Make sure to keep your fingers away from the turtle’s mouth; a quick bite can harm you.
- Turtles like to be alone most of the time. They will not cherish you if you keep them with you for a long time. They are not like other pets that you can take for a walk. Some turtle keepers keep the turtle on their floors and try to engage them a lot. This is not healthy for turtles, and it may cause stress and health issues. Keeping your turtles in the tank and watching them swim, eat and move around in the habitat will keep them happier.
- Avoid buying or keeping the turtles that grow up so large that it could be hard for you to handle and provide them with sufficient space for the habitat. Some species, like snapping turtles which look cute as a hatchling, later grow up to a reasonable size causing trouble for the keeper to maintain a healthy environment for them.
Promote the Message of Love With Turtles
Turtle lovers celebrate World Turtle Day every 23rd May. American Tortoise Rescue founded this day to help turtles and tortoises live long and healthy lives. The purpose is to spread the awareness and message of love and care for turtles being a beautiful part of nature. The intentions are to encourage human actions for the safety of turtles.
Let us commit that we, as animal lovers, will promote the message of love and respect for the turtles and will try our best to keep them safe, healthy, and happy. I hope this turtle care guide has provided you with significant knowledge about keeping your turtle safe and happy.
Stella Lincoln is currently linked with Crowd Writer as a Health & Fitness Expert. Besides, she has a great heart for animals, and she owns a Dalmatian dog named Mowgli. Amanda likes to share her knowledge and experience with animal lovers. Also, she has a website, Educator House, where she guides students regarding their careers.