In my last article “For the Love of Reptiles: Your Reptile Match”, I covered snakes and lizards. But there is another great reptile pet still to be mentioned. Turtles and Tortoises. I saved these critters for last because I believe they are the most complicated to care for and need the most explaining.
With so many turtles its hard to choose which one, if any, would be your best choice. Just as I said with other reptiles, size is one of the first things to consider. Turtles and tortoises can reach all types of sizes. One of my favorites is the Adalbra Tortoise, which can reach well over 300 pounds. Sizes can range from this all the way to the Spotted Turtle, which grows no larger than your palm. After that thought, pose this question to yourself. Do you want an aquatic turtle or a land turtle/tortoise? This is something you want to consider very carefully.
If you are aiming for an easier pet, land turtles are the best choice. You can keep your pet inside or outside. An indoor tank is more ideal for smaller species like the Box Turtle. If your room is already room temperature then in most cases all you need is a UVB lamp. If you have a warmer climate species then you may need additional lighting to reach ideal temperature. If you want an outdoor enclosure then there are many options, however its best to give the turtle a lot of space to walk around. Outdoors you can really have fun with your pet. Depending on the species, you can add foliage, which is great for hiding places. Planting fruits in the pen for the turtles also ensures a fun natural snack your pet will surely enjoy. Since the sun gives natural UVB rays, it’s not necessary to have a UVB light as long as natural light comes in the pen every day. It’s always wise to have a shelter built for your pet to get away from natural elements and for night time, adding a warming lamp in the shelter is very beneficial. Always research your species to see what is needed for their enclosures.
Unlike land species, aquatic turtles can be quite complicated. Aquatic turtles are usually very social. If raised in captivity, they quickly learn who feeds them and have quite the personalities. There are many types of tanks to hold an aquatic turtle. Important things to know are that no madder the species, a basking/resting area is always needed. Turtle water gets really dirty, really fast. Dirty water is a huge cause of illness in water turtles. So its important to keep a close eye on the water quality. A water heater and hiding places are also important for the happiness of your pet. You can add fish in your tank as well as snails and natural plants, all of which may become food at some point. You can also create a pond outside for your turtles, but I think a indoor tank is very rewarding.
Turtles are not easy to take care of. Every turtle must have UVB lighting. No exceptions. Without this, their bones become weak and their shell can become deformed. Calcium usually must be added to the diet and what you feed the turtle can be absolutely vital to its health. The supplies for the upkeep of indoor enclosures can be expensive quick, but if your are up for the challenge, these animals make amazing pets! (Above pictures: Box Turtle,Yellow-Belly Sliders, and Snapping Turtle).