Chinatown Street Turtles

Discussions about turtles.
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sohcahtoa
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Yeah, those turtles.

Walking down the streets of Chinatown today, I was sorely tempted to buy one of those cute turtles and rescue it from its squalid, crowded habitat. They also include a tiny little plastic cage and a can of turtle food with the purchase of a turtle.

How smart/stupid would it be to actually purchase one of those turtles? (yes, I am also aware that -4\" turtles are illegal) Are those turtles doomed to die within a few weeks? Do I risk a heavy fine? Salmonella?

I have been reading up on turtle care thanks to this wonderful site, so I realize that it\'s gonna need a much bigger cage and a source of UV light for starters. Do you think those turtle pellets are for real, though?

Another question is that, if I do get a turtle (whether from off the streets or from a pet shop), could setting up a pool outside, allowing it to bask in sunlight, in the summer delay the need for a UV lamp? What about sprinkling calcium powder on their food or giving them foods rich in vitamin D?

Forgive me if I\'m bringing up a commonly asked question yet again (I have gone through 8 pages of posts and have not found anything like this). Also forgive any ignorant statements I may have made in my post (esp. in the last paragraph).

Thank you in advance.
turtledudeusa
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I am not exactly an expert, but I have been in a similar situation, most of the advice I am giving you is from my own personal experience, and may not work or be true in your senario.

Q-1)How smart/stupid would it be to actually purchase one of those turtles? (yes, I am also aware that -4\" turtles are illegal) Are those turtles doomed to die
within a few weeks? Do I risk a heavy fine? Salmonella?


A-1)It is illegal to buy turtles under 4\". That being said, I must also tell you that my turtles were about the size of a half dollar when I bought them. I didn\'t know it was illegal. I don\'t think it would be stupid at all to buy one of those turtles...unless of course, you got caught. In that case...play dumb...act like you didn\'t know the law existed. Most likly, the person to get fined would be the person selling the turtles. Although I was probably extremely lucky, my turtles are now 2+ years old, and seem to be doing well (thank goodness). If taken care of properly, I would guess that the turtles would be fine, and not doomed to die in a few weeks. If you want to be sure, take them to the vet as soon as you get them and get them checked out. You do run the risk of salmonella. To prevent the risk of getting sick, wash your hands BEFORE and AFTER any contact with the turtles (i.e. water changes, feedings, etc).

Q-2)I have been reading up on turtle care thanks to this wonderful site, so I realize that it\'s gonna need a much bigger cage and a source of UV light for starters.

A-2) What kind of turtle are you looking at? If it is a Red Eared Slider, it will not need a cage, but a tank. RES are aquatic turtles, and need a lot of swimming space and an area to bask.

Q-3)Do you think those turtle pellets are for real, though?

A-3)Turtle pellets are a big part of a turtle diet. If the pellets come in a labeled package, with a brand name, such as ReptoMin, they should be fine. If you are unsure, pick up a can at the local petstore (ReptoMin Floating Food Sticks) its only about $3.00. Turtles also eat other foods, such as Romaine Lettuce, Collard Greens, and other fruits and veggies. This of course is true for Red Eared Sliders and may not be true for others; I don\'t know what kind of turtle you are looking at.

Q-4)Another question is that, if I do get a turtle (whether from off the streets or from a pet shop), could setting up a pool outside, allowing it to bask in sunlight, in the summer delay the need for a UV lamp?

A-4) Yes, if the climate is suitable, allowing the water to be about 78 degrees, an outside pond would be great. Natural light is always best! If they are able to bask out side for a good while each day, a UVB light won\'t be needed right away. Make sure that they are in a protected area, away from predators, and provide some shade (your turtle CAN get sunburnt...it is a very serious condition!). (there is an area on this site that tells about outdoor aquatic turtle setups!)

Q-5)What about sprinkling calcium powder on their food or giving them foods rich in vitamin D?

A-5)You could use calcium powder, or use Cuttlebone, which is a great source of calcuim. It is found in the bird section of the pet store, and costs around a dollar. When you get it, be sure to remove the hard backing, and break it into peices that are small enough for your turtles to munch on.

None of your questions are ignorant, how are you going to konw unless you ask? What would be ignorant is if you DIDN\'T ask and your turtle died from improper care. If you take good care of your turtle, and make sure it has all it needs to stay healthy, it should do fine. If you take proper care of them, and something still happens and they dont live, you can take comfort in the fact that you gave them a chance at a better life! (most of my answers apply to a Red Eared Slider). Good Luck, and for more information on supplies needed for setup, please take a few minutes to look at my site, Snoopy&Droopy\'s Lazy River Landing, http://www.freewebs.com/turtledudeusa/c ... ipment.htm
sohcahtoa
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Thanks very much for your in-depth reply. I was, in fact, referring to red-eared sliders, and by cage, I meant tank. Also, after digging around the site more yesterday, I think it IS legal to buy -4\" turtles, just not to sell them.

I think I will try to get a turtle now. Thanks again turtledude.
sohcahtoa
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Oh, and how fast will the sliders grow if I buy them when they\'re the size of a half-dollar?
shelngav
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My understanding is that they are illegal to sell, not buy. I bought one naively and did research online once I bought mine. Mine was about the same size as you describe. I bought it last September and he is now about 5 inches long and 4 1/2 wide. A lot depends on how well they are cared for. Often the ones you get are not well when they are sold and I found a while after mine the symptoms of a respiratory infection showed up. Most likely he had it when I got him. Be prepared to spend some money before you buy one. It isn\'t cheap even though the turtle is. These are a commitment as they can live 30-50 years. Had I known what I know now I wouldnt have bought from them because it keeps them in business and continuing to illegally sell them and not properly care for them. I would rather see you get one that is of legal size from a petstore or other reputable source.
turtledudeusa
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\"Mine was about the same size as you describe. I bought it last September and he is now about 5 inches long and 4 1/2 wide.\"-shelngav. Are you serious? I have had my two Red Eared Sliders for over two years and they are just now closing in on 3 inches.

And to sohcahtoa, it would be wise to purchase your turtle at a legal size. I was incedibly lucky that my turtles weren\'t ill when I purchased them. Whatever you do, I think it may be a good idea to report the illegal selling of the turtles to your local authorities.
mariza
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Rather than buying from a petstore or other such place, consider getting a turtle from a turtle rehoming agency/adoption agency. Why help subsidize the turtle trade when there are turtles looking for homes? But do do your research first and make sure you know what you\'re getting into.

Don\'t know how big the turtle was when it was bought last Sept., but assuming he was small, that seems an awful lot of growing in less than a year. On the other hand, turtles that are over two years old and only closing in on 3 inches are quite small for their ages.
shelngav
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He has grown drastically, and I have faithfully followed the feeding procedures. He was a little smaller than a 50 cent piece if I remember right, but bigger than a quarter. Like I said I got him in Sept last year on Memorial Weekend. He is very healthy and active. Is there something wrong with him growing this fast?
mariza
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Last edited by mariza on Tue Jul 20, 2004 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
turtledudeusa
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turtledudeusa
Last edited by turtledudeusa on Tue Jul 20, 2004 10:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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