Pet Turtle Care Tips
Article by Todd Turner
There are many ways to give your pet turtle care it deserves. Turtles can be irresistibly cute, and it is a known fact that children find their antics fascinating to watch. The turtles most commonly kept as pets-such as Red-eared Sliders or Painted Turtles-can be comfortably housed in a 40-gallon tank, well-suited to a home that doesn’t have the space for larger pets to run around in. For a responsible child, therefore, turtles often make ideal pets.
A few words of caution, however: turtles spend a great deal of time swimming or simply basking under the light of a UV lamp, and this can give the illusion that they have few needs and are a basically low-maintenance pet: “Just remember to feed them and change the water in their tank once in a while and they’ll be okay.” This is a mistake. While it is true that turtles do not take up much space, do not run around the house and do not eat much (at least not compared to a dog or even a cat), they do require a lot of specialized care.
The initial set-up costs are a major investment. You cannot simply keep a turtle in a fishbowl or a cardboard box. There are different types of turtles and each kind has very specific needs. While land-dwelling tortoises can be housed in a large wooden box or, better yet, a wire-fenced enclosure in your back yard, the more commonly-kept semi-aquatic turtles require a large glass tank that has both a swimming area and a basking area elevated out of the water.
Since turtles are cold-blooded reptiles, in the wild they often spend many hours soaking up the heat of the sun during the day; they cool down by seeking out shade or swimming in the water. Great care must be taken, therefore, in maintaining the proper temperature in your pet’s artificial habitat. Negligence in this area is one of the main reasons turtles become sick. This is why it is important to set up your pet’s tank and environment before you bring it home, and also why it is vital to find out what breed of turtle you are buying-as each breed has slightly different habitat and dietary needs.
Diet is another major factor in maintaining your turtle’s good health. Not all turtles thrive on a steady diet of lettuce and packaged food sticks, for example. Even those who thoroughly enjoy lettuce will require variety in their diet if they are to get all the vitamins and nutrients they require. Many turtles are not just vegetarians but eat meat as well-which can include feeder fish (commonly goldfish), insects, worms, cooked chicken, raw lean beef, etc. In addition, some turtles are strictly carnivores when young but become omnivores as the get older, so maintaining a balanced diet entails knowing not only what breed of turtle you have, but how mature it is.
Many people-especially children-love to pick up their pet turtles, but this must be done with great care. Young children might drop their pet if it scratches them with its sharp claws, and a fall could kill or at least seriously injure your pet. You should also never turn your turtle upside down to examine its underside. And very importantly, be aware that many turtles are infected with salmonella which is transferred to your hands when you handle them, and can make you very sick. It is therefore recommended to handle turtles as little as possible and to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after each handling.
Owning a pet turtle can be a delightful experience, but as you can see, there is more to their care than first meets the eye. For this reason, it is best to not buy a turtle on impulse or to give one away as a novelty pet-particularly to very young children who may not be responsible to care for them properly. If you wish to own a pet turtle, study their needs ahead of time and be aware of the amount of ongoing care that they require.
About the Author
Todd is a Turtle Pet enthusiast. His passion is to make sure all pet turtles are properly well taken cared for by their owners. For more information to give your Pet Turtle Care, visit