Turtles and Tortoises
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How do you care for a mini pet turtle?

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02/24/2009

To maintain a healthy turtle's life it needs to have good nutrition, clean tank water, plenty of room, UV light, a basking area and a basking lamp. This is quite expensive to set up for the first time, but is relatively cheap to maintain. It is best to buy your new turtle young if you want to foster a good relationship (yes there is such thing!), but if that does not concern you than I recommend adopting one from your local SPCA or animal shelter for a small donation, as it will be cheaper and possibly saving the turtle's life. Baby turtles are mainly carniverous and need feeding at least twice a day - recommended by vets: bloodworms, pellets, frozen food and occasionally live food. As they age, turtles only need feeding once every day or two, become omnivorous and can be fed plants like spinach and lettuce in addition to their usual diet. NOTE~ a varied diet is essential for optimum health of your beloved pet! Clean your tank partially every week and/or completely every fortnight AT LEAST. It is easiest to use a gravel siphon that will clean the gravel at the same time as siphoning out the water. Remember to scrub any logs/stones/ornaments you might have in the tank to prevent bacterial/agae build-up. NOTE~ NEVER start a siphon with your mouth. Instead, fill the siphon with water, block both ends with your thumbs, place one covered end in the water and one below level and release thumbs! If done correctly the water will immediately start siphoning out. (It took me several tries to get the hang of it!) Basking is an essential part of any semi-aquatic turtles life, as it dries out their shell to prevent shell rot and fungal infection. Use BOTH a warm basking lamp and a UVA/B reptile light, of which the latter can be suspended inside an aquarium light hood. The basking area needs to be big enough so the turtle can be fully out of the water in some area, and should be stable. Many owners have come to grief when stacking rocks/logs and having them collapse and drowning their pet turtle! A siliconed ramp/platform or specifically made floating platform goes down very well. NOTE~ make sure the turtle can successfully climb onto the platform without much strain, or else the purpose of the platform is utterly defeated. NOTE: it is often easy to buy your new baby turtle with a tank suitable for it's adult size, to avoid having to pay a lot more money when buying a second tank. Plenty of room is one of the most important things an owner can give their pet. 150cm should be the MINIMUM for two adult red eared turtles, while the smaller Reeve's turtles can get away with two in a 120cm tank. Baby red eareds can get away with one in a 60cm tank until approx. 1 year of age. The water depth should be at least two times the length of the turtle's shell. Although the initial setup of the turtle and tha tank are expensive, mantainance costs are low and if you are passionate enough about animals, I am sure you will find your turtle a great pet!