If you are looking for information on how to take care of a turtle, this complete keepers guide can provide just that. You can find info on the best practices of husbandry (turtle care) as well as an in depth look at the various types of chelonian (turtles and tortoises) that make for suitable pets for beginners and novice owners.
In this info guide, we cover all the miscellaneous topics not cover in the other main sections. Here you will be able to read about subjects like hibernating turtles and tortoises, breeding and caring for hatchlings and more.
Turtle and Tortoise Hibernation
Wild box turtles, aquatic turtles and tortoises that live in colder climates all hibernate during the cold winter months. As an owner, you can choose to hibernate during these cold times too or bring them inside to ride out the winter indoors where it is nice and warm. There are factors you need to be aware of before deciding that hibernation is right for your turtle; sick, young and under weight turtles should not be put into hibernation. You can choose to build a box or convert a refrigerator into a place for them to sleep out the winter or you might decide to dig a pit filled with mulch and leafs.
Setting Up a Proper Habitat
You have several options for housing your turtles. Depending on where you live in the country and what type of turtle you have, you can create an outdoor pen or even a turtle pond if you have the space in the yard. If outside isn’t an option or you would like to house your pets inside during a cold winter, you can build an inside table or even house them permanently in a large aquarium if they are small growing species.
How Care for Baby Turtles
When you keep turtles of both sexes in the same habitat and they are of breeding age, they will likely begin to breed. Pregnant females will need a suitable area to deposit her eggs into a nest. Both land species and aquatic species need a loose moist substrate for this. You can then decide to leave the eggs where they are or take them inside and hatch them in an incubator. Once they have hatched, you will need to learn how to feed these tiny size turtles or tortoises.
Feeding Tortoise and Turtles
Every turtle and tortoise has a specialized diet that you need to adhere to. Some turtles are strictly vegetarians that only eat greens and veggies while others are mainly carnivores and require proteins or live meals. Simply throwing in a head of iceberg lettuce is no meal for most turtle; they won’t get the adequate vitamins or minerals they need to stay healthy. Find out what you should be feeding your turtles with is Best Turtle Food Review.
Tortoise and Turtle Supplies
Owning a turtle or tortoise and wanting to provide it with the best care you can will requires you to buy the right supplies and accessories. Allowing your turtles to simply roam free in the backyard and throwing out a few heads a lettuce a week is not enough to keep them happy or healthy. With keeping these types of pets, you should first and foremost, learn how to take care of a turtle by reading the information that is available. If however you already know the basics of taking care of your pet, the following information will help you select the most appropriate supplies and accessories for your specific breed of turtle. When viewing the products we suggest bellow, we recommend that you read all the reviews of the people that bought the particular item. Every product has pros and cons and may or not work for your setup or situation.
Aquatic turtles can be kept in a turtle aquarium tank that has a minimum length of 4-5 times as long as the turtle is long; 3-4 times as wide as your turtle is long and have a water depth that is 1.5 times deeper than the turtle is long. A small turtle (less than 5 inches) can usually live in a 20 gallon breeder tank and larger turtles (around 10 inches)can live in a 120 gallon tank.
Turtle Toppers and Basking Platforms
A turtle topper is a great way to expand the size of your aquatic turtle’s living space and provide a basking platform. Many of these are designed to fit on standard size tanks. Make sure you read up on the dimensions on topper to find out if a particular model will fit onto your current aquarium. If you are handy, you might be able to build a turtle topper of your own. If you do so, make sure it’s built using materials that are not toxic and won’t injury your pet. Don’t use anything that a turtle can get stuck in or cut on; like a wire wrung ladder that your turtle’s toes can get caught in.
A good quality aquarium filter is a good way to keep the water in your tank clean and well circulated. Dirty water is the main reason why aquatic turtles get sick so investing a filtration system is a good idea. In addition to buying a filter, feeding your turtles in a separate feeding tank will help minimize and reduce debris that will add to the bioload which can result in algae growth.
Your turtle’s water should be at a safe temperature for your pet. That means it shouldn’t be too cold or too warm. Cold water temps is another reason why turtles get sick and too warm can cause health problems too. If you don’t have a aquatic turtle heater, the water temperatures can drop to unhealthy levels when the air temperature inside your house drops during the winter or when the air conditioning is on. In tank heaters, under tank heat pads and even overhanging heating elements can help keep the water temperature stable.
If you keep your turtles inside, you need to provide them with a light that gives off both UV A and UV B light spectrum. This type of light is the same thing you would get from the sun and is necessary to keep you turtle healthy. When you attach a light onto your tank, you need to make sure it is set at the proper height above the living space so it doesn’t overheat the habitat. You also need to make sure there’s no plastic or glass that the light has to pass through before reaching your turtles. UV B light will be deflected away if it hits glass. Splashproof lights might be a good idea as well.
Purchasing cleaning equipment will make your upkeep and maintenance a whole lot easier. A lot of times it’s not easy to get in and clean your turtle’s tank efficiently using everyday household cleaning supplies. Furthermore, these everyday items might contain toxic chemicals and should not be used in or around your tank. Consider getting a few items that you only plan to use for pets. One piece of equipment we recommend to make your life easier is an aquarium water changer
Preformed Ponds and Liners
Building an outdoor pond is not as simple as digging a hole, throwing down a pond liner and filling it with water but it’s also doesn’t have to be a huge project either. Preformed ponds and liners and available to help build a modest size pond that your turtles will love.
A fence is a good idea for an outdoor pond for several reasons. The first reason is to keep your turtles from wandering off and getting lost. The other reason to have a fence is to keep predators out. Some predators can navigate a fence rather easy so if your pond is not big enough for your turtles to stay out of reach, a protective pond net can be placed over the top.
A pond filter is a must to help keep your garden pond clean and well circulated. It’s important to get the right size filter for the size of pond you have. If you have a large pond, you might need multiple filters. Water features are also a good way to keep water from become stagnant. Stagnant water can lead to mosquito problems not only for you but also your turtles. There are a lot options available (mechanical and biological filters) and some care should be taken when selecting your filters.
A heater is not always necessary if your aquatic turtles naturally live in the same region and you plan on bringing them inside over the winter. A pond heater can be used to keep a pond from freezing over in the winter and the temperatures above freezing. Small ponds can benefit from a heater since a smaller volume of water will cool down much faster than a larger body of water. In these situations, a heater will help reduce the rapid drop in temperature.
You can get chemicals and other products to help treat your pond water. These treatments can be for a range of problems including: algae blooms and growth; high and or low water pH, nitrates, nitrites and ammonia levels.
Being a pond keeper can be a full time job depending on the size of your pond; so why not make your life easier buy buying pond cleaning supplies. Not to mention making the job easier, certain tools can make the job less messy as well.
Supplies for Box Turtles and Tortoises
Lights and Heaters
For the same reason aquatic water turtles need UV A and UV B light, so do box turtles and tortoises. Most lights also supply a good source of heat but during the night time hours, you don’t want to have bright light. In fact, certain species don’t like high levels of light. Heating elements are a good alternative.
If you own a tropical tortoise or box turtles, they will need a habitat that has high levels of humidity. buying a humidifier can be an ideal solution to solving this requirement. For a less costly solution, you can also moisten their substrate every so often by using a spray bottle.
Providing your pets with some natural looking decorations will make them feel more at home since it can recreate their natural habitat. A few hollowed out logs, some rocks or live plants can not only make your turtles happy but also make your turtle table look more aesthetically pleasing. If you add plants, make sure they are not toxic for your pet.
Tortoise Turtle Houses
If you keep your tortoises or turtles outdoors, they would benefit from having a shelter to escape the heat of the day or the cold of the night. Some species will burrow into the substrate if given the chance but if you don’t want a bunch of holes in your pen, a house would be a good solution. A great way to provide heat on a cold day is to use a converted green house as hideout. If your pets are not fully grown yet, you can keep them inside a hut or tortoise house kit.
Fencing and Screening
Your outdoor pen needs a fence to keep your tortoises and box turtles inside and any predators out. Not any fence will suffice though; it needs to be solid and secure. This is especially the case if you have a large fully grown tortoise. We suggest that you go to your local hardware store to pickup some treated lumber and fasteners to build a good sturdy fence and a predator proof over night pen with a secure lid.
Plants and Decorations
You can add natural looking decorations like a few hollowed out logs, some large rocks or a nice soaking pond to create a natural looking habitat. Non toxic plants can also be planted inside the pen as well. The plants provide shelter and a snack for hungry turtles.
Bedding and Substrate
Buying the right bedding and substrate is an important aspect of providing a good home for your turtles and tortoises. Depending on the species, you will need to either get a dry substrate or one that is moist. Box turtles and tropical tortoises like the moist bedding and desert species need dry bedding. Dry substrates for tortoises typically consist of a loose soil and sand mixture. Sand, rocks and gravel can be picked up at your local garden center and be mixed in with your top soil.
Food Treats and Feeding Dishes
A well balance diet is essential to the health of your pet turtle. Fresh food is always the best solution but some commercial brand foods and supplements can help make up for any lack of vitamins and or minerals you might not know you are lacking. Food dishes are not usually necessary; a flat stone is sufficient enough for a food dish and a shallow tub or saucer makes for a good soaking and drinking dish.