Freshwater turtles are endearing pets, but require very specific care and a comfortable environment to stay in top shape.
Although each species of turtle has different requirements when it comes to taking care of them, most of them can be taken care of by anyone, including children. However, you have to always keep something in mind, having a turtle as a pet is a long-term project.
This is because they are one of the oldest animals on our planet. While other pets such as parrots can live 70 or 80 years, a well-groomed turtle can live so long that it is possible that even your children or grandchildren end up caring for it throughout their lives.
Creating a habitat for your turtle
Turtles live in glass terrariums or plastic tanks. You can find different models and sizes available in the market. However, the most important thing is the size they have.
Obviously, if your turtle belongs to a species that reaches a large size when it reaches its adult stage, you will need a large pond or tank.
On the other hand, the habitat should have a place where your pet can climb and walk, so that your turtle can exercise, just as you need a place where your turtle can sunbathe or be illuminated with some type of artificial light.
In addition, it is also very common to decorate the turtle ponds with gravel substrates, artificial islands, and wooden trunks. You can create the perfect habitat for your pet with a little imagination.
Turtles also need to exercise
Most people do not know that water turtles need to exercise to stay healthy. In fact, wild turtles are surprisingly active animals and can run very, very fast. They can even climb.
You must make sure that your turtle does enough exercise. This means that it is not worth just seeing her climb and put on her island. It is necessary to remove it from the tank or terrarium and let it run around the house for a while. Another good option is to fill a pool with water and let it run for it a couple of times a week.
What kind of food do turtles need?
Young turtles have a somewhat different diet than they have when they reach adulthood. Young turtles are carnivorous (they only eat meat), while adult turtles are omnivores (they eat both meat and vegetables).
While they grow, it is necessary to provide them with a large number of animal proteins. These proteins can come from feed made with high-quality meats, shrimp, mosquito larvae, flies, fish, crickets … However, when they have finished growing, you can feed some types of vegetables and algae. Of course, you can not feed only vegetables or algae, they need to have meat in their diet.
There is also an important difference between the feeding of water turtles and tortoises. Water turtles must dive into the water to eat, and usually, their food is spread through the water to soften it. If they stay out of the water too long, whether it’s to find food because you throw it out or for any other reason, they can become dehydrated and die!
Because of this, it is very important that you always leave an available and easy way for your turtle to enter and exit its turtle pond.
Adequate hygiene is essential for turtles to stay healthy
Adequate cleaning and hygiene can extend tremendously the health and life expectancy of your turtle. The worst thing you can do for the health of your turtle is to keep its water dirty. The dirty water is an immense source of bacteria and diseases that, moreover, are very difficult to cure.
Many turtles die because they do not have adequate hygienic conditions. For this reason, it is highly recommended to change their water often, cleaning your terrarium or tank in the process.
It is also advisable to wash your hands before and after handling your turtle. In this way, you can avoid the transfer of bacteria from one to the other.
Precautions to take if you release your turtle at home
Although we always tend to think that the shell of the turtles is indestructible, it is not. There are many things in a common home that can hurt or even break the shell of your pet.
In the event that you decide to let your turtle run around your house, take the following precautions:
- Turtles are not a toy. This point is especially dedicated to children. Turtles are a living being and deserve to be treated and respected as such. They are not a ball or a stroller with which to play. Anything, even a malicious one, can hurt your pet badly.
- Be careful not to step on your turtle . Especially if they are about the smaller species or young turtles. Although its shell may look very hard, it could break. Especially if they are crushed by wheelchairs, bicycles or even small vehicles.
- Watch that your turtle does not hide under the furniture. Above all, you have to be careful with rocking chairs and doors. If your turtle is trapped inside the holsters and they move, it is very possible that you will receive a fatal injury.
In any of the cases, if your pet suffers some damage you should go immediately to a veterinarian specialized in this type of animal. Unfortunately, there are no veterinarians specializing in reptiles.
What are the first steps you must take to have a turtle as a pet?
First, find out what species of turtles are available and which are the most appropriate for your lifestyle. There are many different species, so get informed.
Once you know what species of turtle you want, start by getting all the material you need to take care of it as it deserves. A terrarium, what food are you going to give, hygienic products, calcium …
Last but not least, locate a veterinarian who is specialized in this type of reptile. It does not work for any veterinarian, since most of them only specialize in dogs and cats. It is very important that you are specialized in reptiles.