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Pet Turtle Information
Ok, so turtles as pets don't seem very exotic. But, they definitely are not your average pet. And for the right person, they can be great. One of the best parts about having a turtle for a pet is that they are extremely low maintenance. However, this could be problematic for people who sometime get too busy and are apt to neglect their turtles for long periods of time.
Unfortunately, many turtles are sold to people who have no knowledge about taking care of a pet turtle. Years ago the inexpensive baby red-eared sliders were sent home in a plastic bowl with a little plastic palm tree and no instructions on caring for a pet turtle. Many times their shells were painted which only ended up killing them since it seals the pores of the shell. Thankfully, to assure better pet turtle care, the U. S. government banned the sale of turtles under 4 inches long ago in the 1970's.
Turtles are not good pets for children. Turtles harbor Salmonella bacteria which can be easily passed to children who don't understand the necessity of careful hygiene. This is the main reason small turtles were banned by the U.S. They realized the problem with children who have a habit of putting small things into their mouths including the small turtles.
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Aquatic turtles need large pet turtle tanks, ultraviolet lighting and a good filtration system. The red-eared slider can grow up to 12 inches long. This requires an appropriately sized tank. These turtles need ultraviolet lighting which provides vitamin D and prevents metabolic bone disease (soft shell syndrome). Turtle tanks require regular cleaning and a good filtration system. Clean your pet turtle aquarium within two hours after feeding. An area of the tank should have water deep enough for swimming and have a place where the turtle can get out of the water and bask under the ultraviolet light. A rock, log, or ramp can be used. Suitable water and ambient temperatures must be maintained.
Land turtles need a box or terrarium about 2 feet square and a foot high. This should be sufficient for most commonly owned adult land turtles. Newspapers that are changed regularly make a good floor covering since they are absorbent. Your pet turtle will rearrange the newspaper to form a shelter. Provide a shallow water pan that cannot be tipped over and can be easily reached. The water need only be deep enough for the turtle to submerge its head. It is recommended that land turtles not be kept in the basement unless the basement is properly heated.
What Do Turtles Eat?
What do pet turtles eat? Pet turtle foods have come a long way, however, they are not recommended as a sole source of food. Most turtles are omnivores and preferences for different foods might change at different points in the life cycle. Try offering a variety of foods like greens, aquatic vegetation, snails, crawfish, clams, brine shrimp, minnows and most fish, grated vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.), canned cat or dog food and grated hard boiled eggs. Feed the turtle only what it will eat. As the turtle grows, increase the size of its living quarters. Feeding turtles in a separate plastic tub will allow the mess associated with feeding to be contained. Turtles are messy. This will reduce the number of times the tank needs to be cleaned. It also allows monitoring their food intake, especially if you have more than one turtle.
If you are willing to make the commitment, turtles can be fun. They are beautiful, fascinating and enjoyable pets. Always do your homework first. Research the turtle species available and the type of care required. While the basics of aquatic turtle care are similar for all species, potential owners need to consult specific care sheets for details on housing, environment and feeding for the species in which they are interested.
Beyond ensuring they have a proper environment and diet, they do not need a lot of attention. However, if you have regular interaction with them they will become tame and sociable. Turtles don't mind being handled (with care). In any case, they make wonderful pets and if properly cared for can provide many years of enjoyment.
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