Water Turtle Housing

Where do your turtles live? Well, they are water turtles which requires them to have water accessible to them. You can go two different ways, or sometimes both depending on the location of where you live, indoor or outdoor. Let’s start with indoor.

Water Turtle Care

Indoor Housing:

Your turtles can’t just take over your bath tub. Why? Well, because if it’s like my house, you may only have one bath. Your turtle may feel like they did something wrong and think that they are in jail. If I were a turtle, I wouldn’t want to be shoved in a bath tub my whole life, I would want some windows so that I could watch my owners live their life (outside the bathroom duty!).

You should house your water turtles in a minimum of a 20 gallon long aquarium. This is a minimum recommendation, bigger is better. Your aquarium should have at least enough water to be as deep as the width of your turtle. You can add more water depending how good of a swimmer your turtle is.

They are going to need a place to “bask in the sun/ lay on the beach.” A place where your turtle can get completely out of the water to help prevent against any fungal infections. You should place a calcium block in the water to help prevent their shells from softening. The temperature should be maintained between 72 degrees and 85 degrees.

To do that, you will need an aquarium heater. Another source of heat that I use in conjunction with the heater is an overhead light that I put over the basking (beach) area. Make sure that you don’t set the light too close because, depending on what you use for the basking area (maybe a rock), you don’t want it to get too hot to burn your poor turtle. You also don’t want your turtle to be able to reach up and burn itself either.

Another light that is required is an ultraviolet UVB light. This light “replaces” the sun. It is important because it emits the ultraviolet rays essential for turtles to properly utilize calcium and vitamin D. The ultraviolet also helps in assimilating food and helps cure minor scratches and other skin problems. These lights should be replaced at least once a year, preferably every six months.

To simulate an actual day in your indoor housing, it’s best to use a timer (one that is plugged in the wall with the lights plugged into the timer). If you don’t use a timer, you can just turn on/off the lights on your own every 12 hours. To improve your water quality (so that you don’t have to change the water all the time), you should acquire a good filter.

Here is an example of an indoor water turtle setup.

Outdoor Housing: So, your turtle wants to live outside. The types of water turtles that can live outside are the hardy water turtles like the sliders, cooters, and painted turtles in a mild climate (such as the southern United States). Too hot of a temperature will cook your turtle, too cold will freeze them.

As with the indoor housing, they need a place with water to swim in and a place to bask. You can make a pond out of a child’s wading pool. Never use a glass aquarium outside. This creates a green house effect and will cook your turtle! “No turtle soup, Eat more chicken!” For basking you can put a rock or cinder block in the area for an island or “beach”.

You can also use floating logs or cork boards. For the females that need to lay eggs, you need to provide access to a land area. For those bright and sunny days with no cloud cover, you need to provide shade. You could use a board or grow some plants around the edge of the pool/ pond. A good plant to use is water hyacinth or water lettuce.

What about threats to their safety? Yes, there are predators out there that would love to have turtles for a meal. To help protect your turtle, you should put up a cage-like fence that is enclosed on the sides and top. That way the neighborhood dogs, cats, and raccoons can’t get to your wonderful, happy turtle.

Here is an example of an outdoor water turtle setup.