Turtles have become popular pets and while they do not need the same type of care that other pets do, there is still a lot to learn to make sure they have a long and happy life. They do not need to go for walks and don’t need as much space as a cat or dog, but they do have specific requirements. A pet turtle can live for many years, and will be part of the family for decades if their needs are met.
They may not be as expensive to own as a dog, but they do need special equipment. The tanks should not be too small as they will like to move around. To make sure they have enough heat and light, plus plenty of clean water to swim about in, and you are on the way to being a good turtle owner.
To make sure that the conditions are as near to normal s possible it will be a good idea to let the pets live in a pen outside. This will be particularly helpful if you want to breed them. There is a downside and that is the fact that they will hibernate for part of the spring. If a child is not able to be around its pet for some time, they may lose interest once they come back out. There is also the concern that if an inquisitive child disturbs them they may die.
If the pet turtle will be kept indoors, there is a need to sort out the tank properly and not just fill it with water and expect that to be enough. There will need to be about 40 gallons of water and it must be kept clean. This is not like keeping a goldfish when they are often left in a small bowl. There should be an area out of the water and it is here that the basking lamp should be positioned.
Pet Turtles are known for recognizing their owners and endlessly begging for food.
It is important to keep the tank at the correct temperature – 70 C during the night and up to 80 C during the day. The turtles should not be taken out of the tank and played with as their body temperature can be affected and this will not be good for them.
It will be best not to put the water into the tank straight from the tap. There is chlorine and fluoride in it and this will have a bad effect on the turtles ph balance. It must have spring water to drink and any vegetation added should be checked to ensure it is suitable for the type of turtle you have. Wood and chippings should not be provided for decoration in the tank as if it is eaten the turtle might not survive. It will be a good idea to make a small shelter in the tanks, so as the turtle can go into the shade. A room where the light does not change a great deal will help to recreate the natural habitat. The last and possible most important thing to remember is that your pet turtle is not a toy or plaything. Small children should be made aware of how to treat them, and other pets should be kept away..
How to tell your turtles age
Trying to tell a turtle’s age is a very difficult task when you have taken into care an adult turtle. Sometimes the person or pet store you brought your pet turtle from might have been keeping a record of the turtles age and so you may have a good idea of your turtle’s exact age. .. If you are one of those fortunate few than consider yourself very lucky.
To be honest the only guranteed way of knowing your turtles proper age is to have owned them when they were babies and not a lot of people have their pet turtles during that stage.Even though not completely accurate or guranteed there are suggested ways to finding out the stage in life that your turtle is in and to put a rough number to it.
A lot of people say a good way to determine your turtles age is to count the rings around the scutes on your turtles shell. Usually the plastron which is the shell underneath the turtle can be used to also gather information on the turtles age in which the wear patterns can give a good idea of what part of their life a turtle is in. The only problem with using this method is that when a turtle is twenty or over it becomes very difficult to determine their age through looking at their plastron as it is very smooth from the many years of voyaging.
One thing I have to point out is these methods of figuring out your turtles age will only be valid for turtles with hard shells..
If you’re looking for a great pet you may be considering one of the many baby turtles for sale you see at pet stores and malls. This may seem like a good idea because over all turtles make great pets. They are very hardy, provide great entertainment, and can teach children great lessons like responsibility.
I remember the first time I was walking through the mall where a gentleman had a small kiosk with red eared slider baby turtles for sale. They were the cutest things I had ever seen. No longer than the length of my thumb.
But before you think about purchasing the cute baby turtles for sale at your local pet store, keep the below in mind.
Are You Prepared For The Responsibility?
It is a big responsibility. It is a live animal that will need proper care and attention for it’s entire life.
If that is not a responsibility you or your family is prepared for then maybe a turtle is not the right pet for you.
The good thing is that turtles are relatively easy to care for (no 6am walking in the rain) and with the proper guidance from parents, make excellent first time pets for kinds.
It’s important to understand that all pets require a responsible person to keep healthy.
Do You Have The Proper Set Up?
To make sure your home is ready for a new pet there are some basic items you should have ready and set up BEFORE you bring your little friend home.
These items include:
- Heat Lamp;
- Basking Area (for aquatic turtles);
- Water Filter;
- Food Bowl (for land turtles);
- Vitamin Supplement.
Of course some of these items can be found for much less at a local garage sale or even on craigslist so don’t be afraid if you are on a budget. Spending a little extra time before hand will help you to find deals on all the equipment you need.
Where To Find Baby Turtles For Sale
There are quite a few places where you can find baby turtles for sale. Some are better than others.
Pet Stores & Malls: As mentioned before, it is illegal for pet stores to sell young turtles that are less than 4 inches in shell length. Unfortunately there are still stores that do this. If you come across one that sells these tiny animals stay away. If they are breaking laws like that then it’s very possible that they are breaking other laws.
Publication Advertisements: You may come across print advertisements in newspapers, magazines, pet trade shows, or classified ads that sell turtles. You can find some great deals through these advertisements but be sure to do plenty of research before making a purchase. You want to only buy from reputable sources.
Adoption: The local animal shelter may have a turtle that needs a good home. Or perhaps you have a friend that didn’t realize the responsibility involved in having a pet turtle. Although you are more likely come across adult turtles, younger ones can happen too. This is how Ollie came to be in our family. A friend had bought her but didn’t know how to take care of her. We adopted her and she has grown into a happy and healthy pet turtle.
Pet Trade Shows: There are many pet and reptile trade shows every year. A simple search online will locate the closest one to your area. These are great places to find baby turtles for sale as well as all the proper supplies needed to keep them healthy.
Caught In Nature: This is not the recommended source for getting your pet but you may come across a wild turtle some day that is injured. If you feel obligated to help it it is suggested that you take it to a local area pet hospital. Wild turtles can carry diseases that you don’t want to bring into your home.
Online Retailers: These are excellent sources for finding your next pet turtle. As with other retailers you want to make sure they are reputable and have certain guarantees like direct shipping, overnight shipping, guaranteed alive (I would hope!!!). Specialty Breeders: Breeders are where you are likely to find the highest quality turtles for sale. Often they are professionals who take great pride in raising happy and healthy turtles. They may even have hard to find and raise turtles like alligator snapping turtles or pig-nosed turtles. Although not recommended as pets, if they are needed for legitimate educational or scienific purposes this might be the place to go.
Pet turtle care: Is a pet turtle ideal for me?
Not all people are right for pet turtles and unfortunately that is the blunt truth. Yes turtles are cute (well some of them anyway) and when they eat its rather entertaining but those are not valid enough reasons for deciding to take on a turtle as a pet. It’s worth really taking some time to think over your reasons and assessing whether you have the facilities to offer the right pet turtle care.
For the person thinking about buying a pet turtle for the first time here are a few questions you should be asking yourself which will help you decide on whether it’s a good idea to bring a turtle into your home.
- Can I provide the right environment for the turtle to live in and be happy?
This is one of the first things you should consider with regards to caring for turtles, Will you as the pet owner be able to provide the right pet turtle care?A massive part of that is providing a habitat whether indoors or outdoors which is ideal for your turtle’s size and species. This often includes maintaining a certain temperature for them and using a host of important turtle supplies to help set up a good enclosure.
- Do I have young children in my home?
Bringing a turtle into a home where there is a toddler or baby is not a recommended at all. During these early stages in a child’s life they are still very much developing their immune system and turtles and other reptiles sometimes carry harmful bacteria (mostly salmonella) on their skins and shells. The child does not have to come into contact directly with a turtle but if they were to crawl or drop a toy on a surface that the turtle had previously journeyed across they would be in danger of being contaminated. The best thing to do would be to wait until your child is a bit older (or when you feel they are mature enough) and then opt to buy a turtle then so both you and your child can learn to take care of your pet turtle.
- Do I have a good understanding of turtles?
A lot of people buy a turtle almost like an accessory or because they think they are cool and even though turtles are very cool there are many things anyone serious about caring for pet turtles should understand about them. Turtles like most reptiles need special conditions and special care. They are not like normal pets that’s why it’s also important to find a reptile veterinarian before even brining your turtle home. You should also take some time to find out about turtles a little by researching and there are a number of pet turtle care guides available both on the web and in book stores that cover all aspects of pet turtle care.
- Is it a pet I’m looking to keep for the long term?
Turtles are not short term pets, do not buy a pet turtle if you only want to keep it for one or two years. Even your average aquatic turtle who tends to have shorter life spans than land turtles will live for around twenty years if cared for properly. For this reason it is very important that you are committed to caring for your turtle for as long as possible.
Pet turtles and salmonella
As a turtle owner you’ll probably be aware of the connection between turtles and salmonella. Turtles, particularly aquatic turtles have salmonella bacteria living naturally on their shells and skin. It’s very important that every turtle owner takes the right precautions to prevent themselves and others from contracting salmonella.
Here are a few things you can do to prevent spreading salmonella:
- Wash your hands every time you handle your pet turtle.
- Make sure you use soap when washing your hands as it kills the salmonella organisms.
- If you’re keeping your turtle indoors don’t allow it to wander into the kitchen or on surfaces where you prepare food.
- Never wash your turtles drinking dish in the kitchen sink or the bath tub as traces of salmonella can be left behind.
- Ensure that your turtle’s water is always clean whether it be terrestrial or aquatic. Change it often to prevent the salmonella bacteria from building up.
A few more important facts:
- Salmonella is also carried by other reptiles and amphibians such as snakes, lizards and frogs.
- Children under the age of five are more susceptible to being contaminated. It’s best to not have a pet turtle in your home, if you have toddlers and infants who are still in preschool.
- Wild turtles do not carry as much if any salmonella as that of captive turtles and this has been well documented in reports.
What are the symptoms of a person contaminated with salmonella?
Some of the symptoms of salmonella poisoning are:
These symptoms usually last for about a week.
Pet turtles for kids: Do turtles make good pets for kids?
A lot of parents wonder if pet turtles are good for kids and the answer quite simply is Yes and No… (Sorry if you were expecting a straight answer but bear with me and let me explain why).
Turtles can be great pets for kids but it really depends on how mature and informed the child is about taking care of their pet turtle. Keeping a turtle is not like looking after your conventional everyday pet. They are not cuddly or as responsive to their owner as a dog or cat would be and definitely don’t share the same emotional bonds that can be developed with these animals. The majority of turtles and tortoises do not like being picked up, handled or played with which is something that most kids like to do often with their pets. For a child to take a turtle in as a pet they will need to provide the turtle with constant pet turtle care which will involve doing these tasks everyday:
- Cage cleaning
- Changing water
If your child can’t perform these tasks responsibly then it will fall upon you to do them.
For your child’s safety and to prevent the turtle spreading a disease to your child, you should make sure that you alert and ensure that your child does not make these mistakes:
- Kiss the turtle.
- Leave their hands unwashed after handling the turtle.
Even though it is illegal and unlikely that you will buy a turtle that has been infected with salmonella, there is still a chance (and you should make the assumption that turtles and salmonella are never far apart) that any and every pet turtle has some kind of salmonella bacterium living on their shells no matter how clean they are. So to keep your child safe from contracting salmonella and any other unwanted diseases make sure that you drum it into their little tiny heads about the importance of washing their hands and not kissing their little buddies.
With that said and out the way here are a few positives that your little ones will gain from looking after their little ones:
- Turtles if cared for in the right way will live for a long time and will be worthy companions for many years to come.
- Children often develop an interest in the diversity of wildlife and have a care for animals and this is always a good thing as we all know about the risks of species becoming endangered. Knowing that the next generation will be more caring towards animals is a bonus.
- Kids gain a sense of responsibility from looking after their little buddies.
Also this is a great chance for you to teach curious kids:
- How to hold a turtle.
- Things to feed a turtle.
- Not to kiss a turtle.
- Ways to give a turtle a safe home.
- About different types of turtles.
If you decide to buy a pet turtle for your kids, it’s worth making sure you understand every aspect of caring for the turtle so you can help you kids take the best care of their new pet.
Algae on turtle shell and in tank
Aquatic turtles sometimes start to develop a rather ugly coat of slimy green furry turf known as algae. You may notice that not only will you see algae on the turtle’s shell but algae also tends to coat the sides of the inside of the turtles tank. In some cases it can be so bad that the water in a turtles tank will turn bright green, making it very difficult to see anything in the tank including your tank. Algae is harmless to turtles but can be a major inconvenience for you.
When treating a build up of algae in a tank its best not to use chemical algaecides as a lot of them contain hydrochloric acids which is harmful to turtles. One good way of preventing algae growth is to keep the tank light off for a shorter period.
The number one way of preventing algae build up in a turtle’s tank and algae on a turtles shell is to consistently change your turtle’s tank water to keep it clean. This is something that all aquatic turtle owners should do anyway as part of routine pet turtle care for their pet turtles. All in all algae is not a major problem the only thing it really does do that can be annoying is prevent you from seeing into your turtle’s tank and if it’s on your turtles shell it may look a bit unattractive but if they are quite young its very likely that they will shed it off anyway.
How to spot turtle shell fungus and what to do to treat it
Signs of turtle shell fungus are not good and not the same as algae on a turtle shell which is harmless. If your turtle has cottony white tufts on their shell or skin then you really have to pay attention to this post as the signs are pointing at them having some kind of fungi infection. Fungus will usually affect areas on a turtles shell or skin where they have had an injury.
Most turtles prefer warm and damp conditions and unfortunately this is also a big factor in fungi growth. Fungi bacteria are present and waiting in these conditions for an opportunity to invade new territory which could be on the surface of your poor turtle’s skin or shell. If the fungus gets into the turtles scutes it can penetrate the carapace or plastron and produce large, gaping holes, a condition known as ulcerative shell Disease. The fungus then enters the body cavity which is extremely serious and potentially life threatening.
Fungus infection can and is easily treated though and it’s best to take action as soon as you notice anything that even resembles a fungus infection to provide your turtle with the most effective pet turtle care. A good way to remedy the problem of a fungus infection is to place the turtle which has been infected into a weak solution of iodine (just enough iodine to turn the water color slightly). The turtle should be soaked for ten minutes twice a day and between times of treating them keep the turtle dry. If your turtle is aquatic you will need to keep them in a dry area and prohibited from entering water. Also make sure to maintain a slightly higher temperature in the environment.
Here are two things you can do to help prevent fungal infection.
- Make sure you always provide a dry and warm area in their tank for basking to help them dry off completely.
- The land area should be absolutely dry even in aquatic tanks.
For Beginner Turtle Owners.
Pet Turtles – How To Handle & Tame.