Turtles make fascinating pets, but they are not toys. They should never be brought into the home as an entertaining novelty for young children who are not taught how to care for them. There is a long history of this unintended abuse of turtles, which usually results in their sudden demise. The most prevalent danger to pet turtles is from children “playing with them.” Turtles are not cuddly pets like dogs and cats. They do not require that you spend your day in their company. They like it when they are being left alone.
The enjoyment of your pet turtle usually comes from merely observing its behavior. Careful, responsible handling is critical to their fulfilling the promise of their expected longevity. If you’re bringing a pet turtle into a home with young children, make sure that they understand how to treat these new pets. With proper supervision, the turtle’s presence can offer an excellent opportunity to teach the children about responsibility.
Before you bring a turtle into your home, make sure that you can meet all of the turtle’s basic needs. Buy the biggest tank you can afford (40-gallon minimum) to ensure that the turtle’s home is large enough. An aquatic turtle is going to want to spend most of its life in the water, along with a few hours each day basking in real or simulated sunlight. Make sure his habitat has enough swimming area and suitable land area to meet those needs. Ensure that the habitat provides enough light, shade, and clean water. A UV lamp is excellent, allowing the turtle to bask and absorb much-needed vitamin D. A beautiful rock protruding above the waterline is excellent for relaxing in the light.
Since turtles are cold-blooded creatures, temperature control is essential. 80ºF is a suitable daytime temperature, which can be lowered by 10º at night. The turtle also needs a place to hide from your family’s well-meaning intrusions, a little privacy. A small shelter can be purchased at a pet store, or you can easily make one yourself. Your turtle will occasionally go into the shade for a little quiet meditation time.
Make sure you understand the turtle’s nutritional requirements. Most aquatic turtles are omnivores, and land turtles tend to be strict vegans. You might want to check with your veterinarian for dietary recommendations, which might include the regular administration of vitamin and mineral supplements.
Be a good housekeeper for your turtle. A clean habitat is a healthy one. Make sure that you clean out the tank at least once each week. This can be an excellent chore for the children once they learn to handle the pet responsibly.
When you remove the turtle from the tank, make sure that he is roaming in a safe place where he won’t get lost, trapped, injured, or harmed by other pets. With a little knowledge, regular care, proper nutrition, and a comfortable, healthy environment, your pet turtle can give you and your family virtual decades of pleasure.