By Barry Mcgee
Keeping a turtle as a pet has come a long way from the plastic palm tree set-ups of old. From the common box turtle to the less-common Ornate Wood Turtle to the extremely rare albino soft shell, there’s a turtle for every lifestyle, budget, and personality. Turtles make fascinating, peaceful pets, but their penchant for longevity means you must be prepared to devote as many as thirty or forty years of care and attention to your new reptilian friend. If you’re ready to share your heart and home with one of nature’s most ancient and mysterious creatures, then read on for some great pet turtle care advice.
The type of care your turtle will require depends, for the most part, on the type of turtle you plan on getting. While you will certainly want to learn as much as you can about the specific breed of turtle you select, there are some basic rules that apply to pet turtle care, and these rules are different for the two main categories of turtles-water turtles and land turtles. To ensure your turtle’s long life and happiness, you should strive to give him a comfortable, home-like environment. For water turtles (such as sliders, coots, and map turtles) this means providing at least 20 gallons of tank space complete with a small “island” for basking, a heat lamp for simulating sunlight, and a UVB light to help the turtle absorb maximum nutrients from his food. Water turtles are graceful, speedy swimmers, so the more swimming room they have, the better! Land turtles (such as box turtles) require plenty of room to roam with hollowed logs or flowerpots to hide in, natural vegetation, a basking area with a heat lamp, and a shallow dish of water for soaking. Many people choose to keep their land turtles outside in specially designed pens. This enables the turtles to not only enjoy the great outdoors, but to hibernate in the winter just as they would in the wild.
While the housing needs of water and land turtles differ dramatically, their diets are actually quite similar. As you learn to take care of a pet turtle, you’ll discover that turtles, like most people, are omnivores. This means you’ll probably be adding some groceries to your list! There are several varieties of pre-made “turtle chow” available at pet stores, but it’s best to use those products sparingly and offer your turtle a wide range of foods. Most land and water turtles alike will happily devour crickets, earthworms, and snails. Water turtles love chasing feeder fish such as minnows and goldfish around their tank and many will also eat cooked chicken, shrimp, and tuna Never feed your turtle hamburger meat, as it’s far too high in fat for your turtle to digest properly. Turtles also enjoy a nice salad or fruit plate from time to time. They’re particularly fond of Romaine lettuces (never feed iceberg or spinach), dandelion greens, carrots, cantaloupe, strawberries, blackberries, tomatoes, and apples. Who knows! Having a turtle might just help you on your way to healthier eating habits (though we probably can’t say the same for exercise).
While you may not feel like a pet turtle care expert right now, you’ll hopefully have many happy years to become one! Caring for a pet turtle can be an experience that is both unique and rewarding in a pet-keeping culture dominated by dog and cat owners. While a turtle may not greet you at the door or curl up purring on your feet, it provides a lower maintenance option for busy people who don’t have time for a dog or cat. At the end of a long, hard day, a turtle’s gentle, peaceful, low-stress personality will surely be a calming influence and inspiring refuge in a speed-driven society. Take some time to relax, munch on a piece of fruit, and enjoy time well spent in the company of your new turtle!
About The Author: Barry S. Mcgee is a pet enthusiast. His site at: http://www.squidoo.com/petcareonline provides advice and information on all aspects of pet care for all types of pets including dogs, cats, ferrets and others and makes it easier for pet owners to choose the best solution for their companion’s care.
For answers to all your pet care questions, please visit: http://www.squidoo.com/petcareonline