It was a beautiful spring day in South Carolina. My family was shopping around in a few touristy stores when my sisters and I, still young kids, spotted a large tank filled with cute, tiny turtles. Like any inquisitive children, we were immediately drawn to the small creatures that were swimming around in the water and crawling on top of a swim noodle.
“Mom, can we please get one?” After some bargaining and convincing from my dad, my mom agreed and we went home with three Red Ear Slider turtles that day.
The spur-of-the-moment purchase was exciting, and to three little girls, it was the best thing that had ever happened to us. However, we got home and realized we knew very little about turtles.
In this case, it would have been extremely helpful to know a thing or two about caring for a turtle. If you find yourself in the same situation, we would love to help you. Read below to discover a few basic tips about caring for your pet turtle.
Because there are differences between turtles and tortoises, we are going to focus on Red Ear Slider turtles in this article, since they are one of the most popular pet turtles in the world.
Buy A Large Tank
According to David T. Kirkpatrick, as quoted on PetSmart’s website, an appropriate tank should “accommodate a water area that is 4-5 times longer than the turtle, 3-4 times wider and at least 1.5 times deeper than the turtle’s length, head to tail.”
You can talk to your vet or a sales associate about any specific questions or concerns you may have, but in general, it is important to buy a tank that is large enough to give your turtle diving room, a water area, sun bathing area and room to swim.
Clean The Water Frequently
It is extremely important to clean your turtle’s water frequently. It is highly suggested that your tank has a filter. With a filter, it may be necessary to completely clean out the tank and everything in it every two to three weeks. However, changing the water once a week can be beneficial to remove excess waste and uneaten food.
Keeping the tank clean provides a better opportunity for your pet to stay healthy. Your turtle’s water tank is also his bathroom, so staying on top of cleaning the tank is of utmost importance.
If you have specific questions regarding your pet’s tank and sanitation, don’t hesitate to ask your vet for help.
Provide An Area of “Land” That Remains Under A Heat Lamp
While Red Ear Sliders love to swim, they also need an area to take a break from swimming and receive some heat to regulate their body temperatures, since they are cold-blooded creatures. You can create a dry land space with a mountain of pebbles that reaches above the water level, a swim noodle cut to the size of the tank or a floating platform.
The source of light may be an incandescent or fluorescent light. According to PetSmart, incandescent lights are used for heating and fluorescent lights may be used for maintaining health.
In a basking land area, the temperature should be around 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit; otherwise the temperature during the day should hover around 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Feed Your Turtle Regularly
Turtles can be fed daily or 4-5 times a week, according to PetSmart. Baby turtles will eat more frequently, and fully-grown adult turtles will need to eat less, 4-5 times a week. What do they eat?
Turtles have a wide variety of foods in their diet. It is quite common to purchase pellets of food from your local pet store. To supplement their food with calcium, it is recommended that you sprinkle some calcium powder on their food twice a week. In small amounts, insects given to them on dry land or fresh fruits and vegetables can also be beneficial.
Talk with your vet or a turtle expert if you have specific questions regarding your turtle’s diet.
We hope you were able to get a better understanding about caring for your pet turtle. If you have any further questions or are in need of a turtle-watching pet sitter, feel free to contact us via phone or e-mail, and we would love to chat with you.