Add A Turtle To The Family!
Turtles are one of the many smaller reptiles that we keep as pets. International Turtle Day is coming up on May 23 so to celebrate we’ve put together a short introduction to keeping turtles as pets. Generally they are easy to care for but it is essential to know what type of environment they need and what they eat in order to ensure they are getting the best care. There are several types of turtles as well, ranging from red-eared sliders to the Central American wood turtle.
As far as their environment goes, the more room the better. Turtles need room for water and land so make sure your tank has both and enough space for your turtle to explore in. One important note to be aware of concerning a turtle’s environment is that their water needs to kept clean at all times. Having a good filtration system and changing the water regularly is essential to their health and well-being. As this PetMD article points out, the temperature may not be as important if they are kept inside and have a heat lamp near their land portion of the tank to sunbathe by.
The same PetMD article mentions that if you do not have the time to maintain an aquatic turtle’s environment, you may want to look into having a primarily land-dwelling turtle, or tortoise. This may make taking care of the environment a bit easier since water isn’t as important to them so you would not need to change it as frequently. Land-dwelling tortoises still need water to drink and to take a dip in, but they need less than aquatic turtles because they don’t swim.
The feeding needs of a turtle depend on the type you have. Most turtles are strictly herbivores meaning they only eat plants, but there are a few like the painted turtle and the Central American wood turtle who are omnivores and eat both plants and some animals such as insects and worms. Some species can even handle eating small fish! Some turtle-parents also buy canned or pelleted turtle food from the pet care store. Unlike most other pets, turtles do not need to be fed daily; around four to five times a week should be sufficient. Pet turtles and tortoises can develop vitamin A and calcium deficiencies, so it is a good idea to supplement those into their diets. The most common disease turtles carry is salmonella which is significant because it can be transmitted to humans as well. It is always important to keep their terrarium clean and water fresh as well as buying a conditioner to add to their water—this helps keep diseases at bay. Always wash your hands after handling your turtle or tortoise.
Overall, turtles can make very good pets and are good as a beginner pet as long as you have their basic needs met and ensure they have a clean environment. Turtles are generally quiet, gentle reptiles and live quite a long time, making them long-time friends.