How To Take Care Of A Baby Turtle

Baby turtles are adorable and fascinating pets. When it comes to taking care of baby turtles, there are certain things that shouldn’t be overlooked. Baby turtles need a healthy diet, good living conditions, and careful handling for their healthy development.

This article covers the basics of taking care of a baby turtle.

How To Take Care Of A Baby Turtle?

The key to taking care of a baby turtle is providing the right tank, substrate, light, heat, basking area, and filter.

  • Tank

Aquatic turtles and terrestrial turtles require slightly different habitats. However, both will need access to land and water. For aquatic turtles, you will need a watertight aquarium. For tortoises or terrestrial turtles, you will need a tank that allows for a vivarium setup. This means air can easily pass through the tank. Your baby turtle will eventually get bigger, so be sure his new home has enough room for him when he grows up.

  • Substrate and tank accessories

For turtle tanks, you have the option of a bare bottom tank, sand, turtle-specific substrate, and pebbles. It’s important that any pebbles or gravel are not small enough for your turtle to eat.

If you have an aquatic turtle, I suggest this sand.

If you have a land turtle or tortoise, I suggest this substrate.

For tank decor, add a mix of rocks, plants, and structures to your design.

To learn more, check out my article on the best substrate for a turtle tank.

  • Light and Heat

Your baby turtle will need UVB light to maintain shell and bone health. It is essential that your baby turtle is able to stay warm. So, you need to install a heating lamp in the turtle enclosure to keep the temperature around 85 degrees.

I personally use this cheap turtle light and it works great.

  • Basking area

Baby turtles need access to a basking area, which is a dry surface outside the water for basking. You can have the basking area at one end of their enclosure. Install a ramp if it looks like your baby turtle is struggling to get in and out of the water.

I use this basking platform and it works great.

It is very important for your baby turtle’s health that they regularly bask. If they don’t you should watch my video below.

  • Filter

Baby turtle pets need a strong filtration system in the aquarium to keep their water quality high. Keep the turtle tank clean and change the water every couple of days. Dirty water is the main cause of illness in baby turtles.

How much work is a pet turtle?

When it comes to maintenance of a baby pet turtle, you should know the ins and outs of feeding, handling, bathing, brumation, and enclosure hygiene.

  • Feeding

It is important that you feed your baby turtle daily, but you may taper that as he gets older. Most turtle species are omnivore and eat both greens and animal proteins. The diet of your baby turtle should cover all the vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Just be careful not to overfeed or underfeed your baby turtle.

You can learn more in my video below on the best diet for turtles.

You can also check out his article on how to feed a pet turtle.

  • Handling
holding a baby turtle

Usually, turtles don’t like to be handled much. Try to handle your baby turtle as little as possible to avoid stressing the little fellow. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your baby turtle.

  • Bathing

Aquatic baby turtles do not require bathing or shell cleaning at all. Terrestrial baby turtles may need an occasional quick wipe down if they get waste or food matter on them.

  • Brumation

Brumation is a semi-hibernation state that turtles go through in cooler weather. During Brumation, they will eat much less and will be far less active. Baby turtles may not enter brumation if they hatch late in the year. Feed your baby turtle a healthy diet to gain body weight and strength so it has energy stores for brumation. While brumation is uncommon for pet turtles, it could still happen.

  • Enclosure Care

Whether you are caring for your baby turtle indoors or outdoors, it’s important to keep its enclosure clean. You should do a partial water change and check the filter for your baby turtle once a week. Use a net to clean up any food leftovers when your turtle is done eating.

Clean and disinfect the turtle tank when you change out all the water. A foul smell or change in water color usually means a full water change and tank cleaning are required.

How Do I Know If My Baby Turtle Is Sick?

Your baby turtle can live for many years if it does not have any serious health problems. However, it is very important that you now the most common health issues in baby turtles:

  • Shell Damage

Shell damage in baby turtles can happen from an injury or an illness. If you notice any cracks, peeling, or soft spots on your baby turtle’s shell, talk to your turtle’s vet to determine the cause. It could also be a result of inadequate lighting.

  • Vitamin A Deficiency

The vitamin A deficiency is common in baby turtles that are fed inadequate diets. Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include lethargy, lack of appetite, swelling of the eyes and eyelids, swelling of the ear, and respiratory infections. Vitamin A deficiency can be cured with an adequate diet but might need to be evaluated by a vet.

  • Abscesses

Abscesses are pockets of infection and are usually caused by bacterial infections. Baby turtles tend to get abscesses around their ear openings. There is obvious swelling on the sides of the turtle’s head where the ears are located. The affected baby turtles stop eating and feel some discomfort.

  • Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections are typically caused by viruses or bacter0ia, as well as inadequate lighting or temperature. Symptoms of respiratory infections include open mouth breathing, nasal discharge, thickened discharge from the mouth, and lethargy. Respiratory infections can quickly become fatal, so speak to your baby turtle’s vet as soon as possible.

Are Baby Turtles Good Pets?

Before you bring a baby turtle in your home, find out if your family is ready for a pet. They require daily feeding, and regular monitoring of enclosure, water quality, and basking temperatures. If you don’t want to commit yet, you can explore some books about turtles instead.

Let’s be honest! Baby turtles are adorable  but require a good amount of responsibility. Many baby turtles end up dying because their owners neglect them or simply or don’t understand how to take care of them. Make sure that you and your family understand the responsibilities required for keeping baby turtles as pets.

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