At first glance turtles would appear to be the ideal pet. They stay in a tank primarily, eat little scraps of food….whats not to love? The problem is that caring for turtles is a bit more advanced than that. Turtles are unique animals that have their own quirks about them, and the more informed you are as the owner the easier it will be to care for pet turtles.
1) Never Over feed Your Turtle: Turtles are like dogs when it comes to food. If you Give them far too much food and leave them alone with it they will eat themselves to obesity. This is incredibly unhealthy and can lead to some serious diseases that require hefty vet bills to treat.
Turtles don’t have access to never-ending supplies of food in the wild and if they did they would eventually eat themselves to obesity. A good rule of thumb is to feed your turtle a hunk of food no bigger than its head and neck, and then allow them 15 minutes to eat. When the 15 minutes is up take the food away and that is their daily feeding.
2) Always Keep the Environment Clean: This is for your benefit as well as the turtle. Turtles are messy eaters and not the least bit concerned about where they poop. Rotting food bits and feces in the swimming area makes an unsanitary environment, not to mention a tank that will make your whole living room smelly!
Make sure to get a powerful filter for the swimming area rated for at least twice the capacity of the water and scoop out any large bits daily to keep the water from becoming acidic. Setting up an area in the turtles tank or even an eating area outside of the tank will reduce how much old food gets sprawled about.
3) Turtles Don’t Like Being Manhandled: This is particularly true with children that love nothing better than to turn the turtle around in all kinds of directions to explore the different sides of the shell. The problem is that turtles get stressed easily when handled.
When they are really small it is actually illegal to sell turtles under 4 inches long because the smaller the turtle the more likely it is that a child will put it in their mouth and get salmonella poisoning. All turtles of all sizes carry the salmonella gene, so anytime you do need to handle the animal make sure to wash your hands before and after.
Wash before touching the turtle to keep from contaminating the Turtle and then wash after so that you are not contaminated yourself. Needless to say Turtles are NOT good pets for children, an adult must constantly maintain the Turtles environment.
Caring for turtles is a lot like caring for other pets if you think about it. Any pet requires you to provide it with a safe and sanitary environment to live in. Nothing should be in that environment that would allow the animal to potentially harm itself. Turtles are very similar in this aspect. You have to keep in mind that Turtles don’t necessarily know what is best for them and could care less about being tidy. As long as you are informed you will do a fine job caring for turtles.