Turtles are ancient animals that have been creeping the earth for more than 200 million years. Pet owners love them because they’re relatively easy to care for. Regardless of the species you decide to adopt, they all have very particular needs that you should know about if you’re going to keep your testudine happy and healthy.
- Size matters
It’s important to keep in mind how big your turtle is so that you’ll know how large his or her tank should be. A good rule of thumb is 10 gallons of aquarium space for every inch. This means that one 5-inch turtle will require a 50-gallon tank.
Size becomes an especially significant issue if you bring home a baby turtle. You’ll need to estimate the approximate size of your pet and go from there. Remember, too that females tend to be much larger than males and will therefore need more room. If you’re unsure about what size to buy for your growing reptilian pal, it’s best to opt for a larger enclosure than a smaller one.
- Light is health
Turtles require both Ultraviolet A and B light to thrive. UV light assists in the production of Vitamin D3, which testudines need to help them absorb and metabolize calcium and other important nutrients and minerals. Without it, turtles experience stunted shell growth, bone disorders, and a decreased lifespan.
You’ll need to supplement ambient light with a quality UV bulb and light source directly placed over the tank. Since UVB rays cannot penetrate glass, you won’t be able to use a glass top nor will you be able to shine light through the sides of a glass tank. To ensure that your animal pal is getting the radiation s/he needs, you should replace the bulb every 9 to 12 months regardless of whether or not they are operational.
- Cleanliness counts
A turtle’s life is an endless cycle of food ingestion and excretion. So you’ll need to keep your testudine pal’s environment — which should include both dry and wet areas — very clean. The filtration system you buy for the aquatic part of your pet’s home should be strong enough to filter an enclosure that is twice its size. You should also invest in a vacuum, or even just a simple siphon device made for tanks. This will offer you a simple way to make a partial (about half of the existing amount) water change once weekly. A bubbler can help to aerate the tank and stem the growth of anaerobic bacteria that can make your turtle sick. Periodic checks of pH, ammonia, and nitrate/nitrite levels are also important.
To keep your reptilian pal in the pink, you should make it a point to schedule regular check-ups, just as you would for warm-blooded animals such as dogs or cats. The vets at Wells Branch and South Branch Pet and Bird Clinics can make sure your turtle gets all the medical attention he or she needs.