There are approximately 356 species of turtles and thirteen families in the order. Some are land dwellers, some are aquatic, while some are semi-aquatic and spend time in both places.
When you bring home a turtle, you are committing to a long-term relationship. Taking care of a turtle involves giving him food, clean tank water, lighting, heat, and a comfortable setup.
To keep your turtle happy and healthy, I decided to put together a guide on everything you need to know in order to take care of a turtle.
How to take care of a turtle?
The main components of taking care of a turtle are feeding, making an ideal set up, providing light, temperature, and a clean tank. I will outline each task below.
Feeding your turtle
Good nutrition is important for your turtle’s health. They are mostly omnivorous and eat both plant and animal-based diets. You need to be mindful of what you choose to feed your turtles.
Here are some suggestions for feeding your turtle:
- Turtles’ diet should be appropriate for their size, age, and the type of turtle they have.
- To support their energy level, their diet should meet their nutritional requirements.
- Do not overfeed your turtle. Adult turtles don’t need to be fed every day.
- There are also commercially available pellets that can provide complete nutrition for turtles.
To learn more, you should check out my article on how much to feed a turtle.
Turtle tank setup
Keep your pet turtle in a large glass aquarium. Turtle tanks need a strong filtration system. The water in the tank should be changed regularly. Frequent water changes will help keep the water clean and free of particles and infections.
The tank must include a land area or dry area for basking. Make sure the water isn’t too deep and has lots of hiding places. As a general rule, the tank should hold at least 10 gallons of water per inch of turtle.
In smaller tanks, it is hard to maintain water quality. Small tanks can lead to the accumulation of waste products that lead to algae and bacteria growth. In some cases, this can cause pet turtle diseases.
Turtles should have proper lighting
Turtles require very specific lighting conditions and need regular access to light. Sunlight exposure is essential for turtles’ healthy growth and development. If they don’t have access to sunlight, you need to provide UV light bulbs for basking.
If your turtle doesn’t get enough UV light, it might develop severe deficiencies and health problems.
Maintain an ideal temperature
Turtles are cold-blooded animals and require heat to warm up their bodies.
- The Average tank temperature for a hatchling or sick turtle: 80 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit
- Average tank temperature for a healthy adult turtle: 77 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit
- Average temperature for basking area: 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit
Clean your turtle tank regularly. How often you clean the tank depends on how messy your little guy is. It is usually a pretty good idea to do this at least once a month.
Remove everything from inside of the tank including basking spots. Empty the water and clean the tank with a warm water soapy solution to kill any bacteria. Make sure you use a special soap that is meant for aquariums. You should never use dish soap to clean your aquarium. Wash your hands immediately after cleaning the turtle tank.
Tips for caring for a pet turtle
Here are some useful tips on taking care of your pet turtle:
- Turtles are neither cuddly nor social: Turtles are not great playmates. They usually dislike when touched and handled. When required, they should be lifted at the midsection, not by the legs.
- Wash your hands: Always wash your hands after handling a pet turtle. Otherwise, you might be at risk of getting salmonella.
- Look for signs of illness in your turtle: There are many diseases that are common in pet turtles. These health problems include vitamin A deficiency, shell rot, parasites, and respiratory infections. Talk to your vet if you observe that your pet is unwell. You can help avoid diseases by providing an adequate environment for your turtle and feeding them a balanced diet.
- Water issues in the tank: At times, pet owners may face frequent water issues in turtle tanks like green or cloudy water and smelly water. The first things to assess are your tank size and filtration methods. You might need to upgrade your tank filter if it is not getting the job done. When you add water to your tank, it might be hard. This means that there is a high concentration of dissolved calcium and magnesium. To help avoid this, you should put some water conditioner into your turtle tank.
It is important to understand that as a pet owner, you are responsible for the care and wellbeing of your little friend.
Remember that all turtles are not the same. So, what is ideal for one kind of turtle may not work for the other. We all have to be a little more thoughtful.
Did you find this article useful? Feel free to share your thoughts. We would be happy to hear from you!