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Care of Turtles for Beginners
An Overview of Turtles as Pets
This is a general guide for anyone looking to get a turtle as a pet. When you decide on a species please find species specific information for it. Turtles are not throw away pets. They are long-lived, intelligent reptiles that take a lot of care. The decision to get one should not be taken lightly.
Good Species for Beginners
- red eared slider
- painted turtle
- common map turtle
- common musk turtle
- Eastern mud turtle
- common box turtle
Bad Species For Beginner
- snapping turtle
- soft shell turtle
- mata mata
All of the species I listed as being good for beginners are semi-aquatic, except for the box turtle. Semi-aquatic means they will spend time on land and in the water. With turtles they don't need much land, just a log or big rock to bask on. You will find they spend most of their time in the water. Box turtles should be provided a terrestrial tank with just a bowl for water. For semi-aquatic turtles use gravel as a substrate or leave the tank bare. For box turtles use reptile wood chips, turf, or clean soil. For no turtle should you use a tank less than 20 gallons for one (except mud turtles; they are small enough that two can fit in a 20 gal). A big red-eared slider will need significantly more space. Provide the turtles with UV light and a heat source.
A turtles main diet will consist of protein sources. Most will readily accept worms, fish, crickets (nothing funnier than a turtle chasing a cricket), and pellet food. Box turtles love dog food as well as everything previously mentioned. Don't neglect vegetation, though. Red-eared sliders and box turtles will accept chopped fruits and vegetables as adults. Do not overfeed! It will dirty the water. Also Make sure the diet is balanced as a calcium or vit.D3 deficiency can lead to soft shell or a vit. A deficiency can lead to swollen eyes.
Turtles may carry salmonella. Watch children closely when they handle turtles, and wash your hands immediately after handling the turtle or cage decorations. also avoid feeding your turtle raw poultry parts.
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