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Everything you need to know about home turtle care

The world of turtles is diverse: more than 300 species, united in 14 families. There are two main types of habitat: marine and terrestrial.

Land are divided into land and freshwater.

At home, there are overland Central Asian and freshwater turtles – red-eared (yellow-bellied), marsh, and trionix (Far Eastern tortoise). Read more about species of turtles in a separate article.

Consider the external features and care for these species on the example of the red-ear (Trachemys scripta) and Central Asian (Agrionemys horsfieldii) turtles.

The turtle at home is exotic, and its appearance is unusual.

The head of these reptiles is streamlined and designed so that the animal is able to quickly draw it under the shell. In some species, the length of the neck is equal to the length of the shell.

These animals have a strong and solid bill with protuberances inside, with sharp or jagged edges that perform the function of the teeth.

The shell function is protection. The dorsal (upper) part is called karapaks, the abdominal (lower) part is plastron.

The size of the turtle is measured by the length of the shell. Determine the length using a ruler despite the fact that the surface of the dorsal part is uneven.

Grow slowly throughout life. In adults, the length of the shell is 20-30 cm.

The tail is hidden inside the shell. The tip of the tail in some species is pointed, similar to a spike.

The differences between Central Asian and red-ear in appearance

Central Asian
ColorYellow-beige color, shapeless dark spots on the shell.The carapax features characteristic stripes of olive, black, and yellow.
PlastronDark color.Smooth, motley color: dark spots on a yellow background.
HeadUpper jaw hooked form.From the eyes to the neck, on both sides are yellow-red lines resembling ears.
EyesArranged on the sides of the head in such a way as if looking down; small, black.Directed forward and upward, located near the crown.
LimbsThe front paws are flat, they are intended to dig the ground, and the rear paws are powerful and strong. They have four fingers on their front paws with blunt claws.On paws leathery membranes for swimming.
DimensionsCubs are born 3–3.4 cm long, weighing 10–12 g. By the second year of life, the size will increase to 5 cm, by the fourth to 9 cm.

The weight of an adult turtle grows to 2 kg.

The newborn cub is 2.4 cm in length, adds 2.5–4.5 cm in the first year of life. At two years old, its size will be 8 cm, at six years old – 18 cm.

The turtles have good low-frequency hearing and excellent color vision.

Red-eared turtles have an excellent sense of smell and smell. They see both in the water and above the water. Hearing is like in cats: there are deaf sounds, vibration.

Nerve endings pass through the shell. Animals with touch – distinguish the taste of food.

Aquatic turtles are not adapted to breathe under water, they float to the top for oxygen.

The average index of life of these animals in their natural environment is 20–30 years. In conditions of keeping at home, subject to the rules for care, pets will live to 40-50 years.

In captivity, these reptiles grow faster as they receive high-quality nutrition and a comfortable life.

In determining the age, they are guided by the size and also count the number of rings on the shell. In one year, 2-3 rings are formed.

But this growth is not uniform, it is affected by the conditions of detention, illness, hibernation.

Older specimens have smooth armor, their rings are pale. The younger the turtle, the brighter its color.

Inadequate content and diseases are the main causes of death.

In another article, we examined in detail how many turtles live.

Domestic turtles should not arbitrarily walk around the apartment. The maintenance of turtles requires the organization of a separate closed space for them: a terrarium or an aquarium with special equipment.

List of necessary equipment (for all types):

  • room / tank for content (terrarium / aquarium);
  • UV lamp (for water UVB 5–10%, for land 10–12%);
  • heater / lamp for heating;
  • lamp;
  • thermometer to monitor the temperature $
  • steady feeding.

For land turtles, this list includes a lodge for sleeping and relaxing.

Additional equipment for water species:

  • 100 watt water heater;
  • filter (internal or external);
  • land / shore / island.

Although red-eared aquarium turtles spend most of their time in water, for a rest and UV exposure, arrange a warm, dry place for them on land. The turtle will not turn it over if one side is submerged in water.

Requirements for the material for sushi: non-toxic, not smooth, but rough, without sharp corners. Observe the following proportion: water – 3 parts of volume, land – 1 part.

In their natural environment, turtles climb up on the protruding from the water snags, stones, resistant objects. It should also be comfortable for them to climb up the artificial sticks in the aquarium.

The required volume of aquarium for a red-eared turtle from 200 liters. The more spacious the home, the healthier the animal.

For the land need a terrarium with a capacity of 100 liters. Completely glass or made of wood, but with one wall of transparent material.

So that the pet can sleep, relax, hide, he needs a house inside the terrarium.

For the house suitable ceramic flower pot, divided in half, with treated edges. Use for this purpose a plastic house for rodents or make of wood.

In terrariums, use hay as a primer – it is easy to change. Do not put sand on the bottom, as animals swallow it. Lay a two-layer coating: at the bottom – sand, at the top – large pebbles.

About her turtle sharpens claws.

Do not put in the terrarium newspapers, building clay, sharp stones, cat litter.

Aquatic turtles in the ground do not need. For aesthetics, lay down large-sized stones in the aquarium.

Gravel or other coating will not work, the animal will swallow it.

Clean water, maintained temperature is the most important in the content of aquatic species.

In water, a red-eared turtle swims, sleeps, eats, goes to the toilet. In order not to accumulate ammonia, nitrates and unpleasant smell, change the water a couple of times a week.

Parallel to this, filter.

Defend water before replacing, so that chlorine disappears and the temperature becomes room temperature. The comfortable water temperature for them is 22–28 degrees, the cooling of the temperature below 20 degrees is unacceptable.

For aquarium turtles, the water level exceeds the width of its shell so that they float, turn over without touching the bottom.

Outside the aquarium with water, the eared tortoise will live only a couple of days.

For the Central Asian land near the trough, install a heater. The required air temperature is 26 degrees.

Aquatic turtles come to be heated. The surface is 10 degrees warmer than in water.

Do not allow overheating – animal hyperthermia; the allowable temperature on the shell is 30–35 degrees.

In order not to burn, the lamp is hung over the reptile, but not too close. Watch your pet while sunbathing.

Make sure that no splashes and evaporation from water is allowed on the luminaire.

The daily operating mode of the incandescent lamp, heater and UV lamp is 10–12 hours.

Ultraviolet rays and heat help to absorb calcium and produce vitamins of group B. Without this, the animal runs the risk of rickets, the horny surfaces will be curved.

A heating lamp, a UV lamp is placed above the turtle. Change them at intervals of six months.

The diet of land species is mainly vegetable:

  • vegetables (carrots, cabbage, cucumber, salad);
  • greens (plantain, dandelion);
  • fruit (apple, melon, watermelon);
  • berries (raspberry, strawberry).

Offer different cereals (oatmeal, semolina, buckwheat).

For intake of vitamins to the normal diet, add foods high in calcium, raw minced meat, boiled eggs. Give calcium too as an additive in feed.

The Central Asian tortoise receives the main part of the liquid along with food, as well as through the skin when taking a bath. The drinker with the liquid they do not pour, they do not drink water separately.

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Eating a red-eared turtle:

  • 70% – vegetable food (lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, nettle, seaweed, duckweed);
  • 30% – animal (meat, fish, seafood, worms, insects, bloodworms, fry “guppies”).

Aquatic turtles are omnivores. Feed the usual food and artificial food, fish food, aquarium plants and insects.

Turtles up to two years old feed every day. During this period, animal protein predominates in their diet.

As animals grow, they increase the proportion of vegetable feed.

Vegetables are included in the diet, even if the animal does not show an appetite for them. The older it is, the more fiber is needed.

Feeding mode for adults: once every two or three days. Do not overfeed pet.

To maintain a balance in nutrition developed special feed.

Aquatic turtles use water to swallow, as they do not produce saliva. They eat in the aquarium.

It is better to feed them in a specially designated place, this will allow to maintain the cleanliness of the home longer.

Read more about what turtles eat at home in a separate article.

Clean the bottom and walls of the terrarium from animal waste products every day. Wash feeding and drinking utensils when contaminated.

The aquatic turtle aquarium also needs general cleaning twice a month.

Care for land turtles includes weekly water treatments. In a small container with warm water at a temperature of 30–35 degrees, lower the animal for half an hour. The head should be above the water.

After bathing the turtle wipe dry.

During the life of these animals grow shell, beak and claws. Care for the claws of your domestic turtle.

When the beak and claws grow to such size that it becomes difficult for the animal to move and eat, remove them. For this procedure, use special nippers.

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