Turtles for Beginners
A turtle can be a great pet for any family. Gentle, docile creatures, they make for a long term member of the family. There are many different species in varying sizes, so it’s important to ensure that you know as much as possible about the breed you opt for.
A popular choice is the Red Eared Slider turtle or terrapin. They generally grow to around 7-12 inches, and have a distinctive red or yellow stripe from their eyes and around the head area. They have been known to live for around 40 years in captivity, so they are a long term investment.
Another common turtle is the Kinosternon or Mud turtle. These aquatic turtles have an olive brown shell, and a slightly curved beak. They don’t grow too large, to around 5 inches in length, which makes them a keen choice as a pet.
Turtles do need some special equipment. To make sure they get the right amount of Vitamin D3, they need a source of UVB light. Vitamin D3 will promote healthy bone growth, a good immune system and general well being. A strip light or bulb will provide this essential factor. A good retailer such as Swell Reptiles will have all the kit you need and more.
He or she will need a terrarium with at least 6” of water. There must be a bank area for the turtle to get out of the water, as they would in the wild. You can create your own with rocks or buy one ready - made.
The terrarium will also need a heater to maintain the correct temperature, as a cold blooded species, turtles need this warmth to thrive. A thermometer is essential to keep an eye on the temperature.
An essential part of the kit is a filter. This will help keep the water in your terrarium clean and healthy. Regular maintenance will keep the filter running smoothly and the tank clean. Ensure that you buy a good quality filter and media as turtles can produce a lot of waste!
• UV Lighting
• Substrate such as rocks and pebbles
Turtles eat a lot of vegetation, with a little protein. Ready-made foods can be given, as they contain a mixture of the vitamins, minerals and other elements that he needs to thrive. However, this should be supplemented with fresh insects, raw fish and plants such as dandelions and green, leafy vegetables. Some specialists recommend feeding your turtle in a separate container to monitor how much he eats, as they can be greedy and become overweight – a major health worry.
Turtles will require adequate maintenance to keep them and their habitat in great condition. It’s important to change the water once a month and to replace soiled bedding and substrate weekly. Scrub away grime as it appears, as it can cause problems if allowed to settle for too long.
Remove uneaten food, as this will increase the amount of waste and toxins in the water. It’s also important to clean or replace the filter media regularly to ensure that the conditions of the water are kept the optimum level.
A yearly health check at the vets is important. This will help you to monitor your turtle’s health. Keep an eye on his shell for cracks and dry patches and seek medical advice if you do spot a problem.