How To Care For A Pet Turtle
Turtles are a popular pet because they only need a small space and people think they need little attention, however, it's critical that you know how to care for a pet turtle. A common pet turtle is the red-eared slider, but it is important to first find out what kind of turtle you have and the environment, temperatures and food to help them thrive.
To care for a pet turtle you will need:
- At least a 40 gallon turtle tank
- Clean water
- Fruits, vegetables and other healthy food
- Heat lamp
- Choose a turtle tank of forty gallons or larger. It needs to be large enough to divide into two sections for water and land. Set up a heat lamp on the land side of the tank. Most turtles thrive with temperatures of 80 degrees during the day and 70 degrees at night. Set some large rocks under the rays of the heat lamp so the pet turtle will have a place to sun himself. Prepare another area to give your turtle some shade. For the water side, place sand and small pebbles at bottom of tank. Avoid using tap water if it contains chlorine and fluoride.
- Research your species of turtle to find what they like to eat. Turtles do not need to eat every day unless they are new hatchlings. Feeding your turtle every other day is sufficient. Most turtles will eat fresh vegetable and fruits. Lettuce, carrots, squash, peas, grapes, bananas, apples and pears are some popular choices. Wash the fruits and vegetables before cutting into small pieces to feed a pet turtle. Some turtles will require a small amount of meat in their diet, but never feed a turtle raw meat. Boiled chicken is good because it is low in fat. You can also purchase feeding fish to occasionally release in the turtle’s swimming hole. It is fun to watch them hunt for their fish.
- Turtles are not pets to be played with. They will stay healthier if you leave them alone and observe them in the tank. It is difficult for a turtle to adjust from the warm tank temperature, so a pet turtle’s environment should be as unchanging as possible. If you do handle your turtle, make sure to wash your hands. Turtles can be carriers of salmonella.
- Cleaning their habitat is an important part of pet turtle care. Change your turtle's water often to prevent harmful bacteria from forming. Keep a small bowl of water on the land side for turtle to have fresh water to drink that may not have been contaminated while he swam. Search and remove any pieces of food that the turtle may have dropped while eating. You may want to consider feeding your turtle in a separate smaller tank. Turtles are very messy eaters and this will reduce the amount of cleaning in its regular tank.