Turtles can be great to keep as pets. They are easy to take care of and do not fuss or whine often. These charming critters are relaxing and wonderful to behold. Their stoic expressions, their slow but calculated movements and their ability to thrive both in water and land are enough to make their owners happy. Instead of being one-sided happiness, pet owners should find ways to make their pets happy. This is true with pet turtles. They may not be as expressive as other kinds of pets, but they need things that can make them happy.
Make their Tanks Clean and Spacious
If you plan to keep a pet turtle, you must know the appropriate size of the tank you have to provide it. An easy to remember the rule of thumb is to provide 10 gallons of aquarium space per square inch of the turtle’s size. For example, if your turtle has a size of 7.5 inches, it should have a tank with at least 75 gallons of space and capacity.
It’s not just the size of the tank that matters for them but, they deserve to have the best filter for turtle tanks as cleanliness is one of the essential things of their tanks. First, keep in mind that the filter for your turtle tank isn’t the same as a regular fish tank filter. Second, turtles produce a lot more biological waste than fish do. Also, note that turtles are more sensitive to changes in water quality and chemical levels than fish are. You need to have a heavy-duty filter that can handle very large amounts of water, efficiently handle waste and maintain the right pH and nitrate composition of the tank water.
Design an Amphibious Habitat
Turtles are amphibians, which means they thrive both on land and water. Thus, create a tank environment that is the same as their habitat would be if they were in the wild. A beach design can be a good idea for providing your turtle the best of both worlds. If you’re having a filtration system installed, your beach design should be made of clean pebbles and small rocks to keep the filter operational for a longer time period.
Keep their Diets Healthy
Turtles are omnivores and can work up quite an appetite. They also need variety in their diets just like humans do. A balanced and nutritious diet with sufficient vitamins and minerals is essential to keep your pet turtle active, happy and satisfied. Different types of turtles have different specializations in their diets, so do some research into the appropriate diet for your pet according to its species type. Also, make them eat live food as a snack. This can make them move around and hunt or chase their food, which makes it a good exercise for your turtle. Alternate mealworms, wax worms and crickets with live fish and shrimps every week to introduce variety and balanced nutrition.
Encourage Regular Exercise
Even with a large tank, your turtle needs some time outside of their tanks to cover more ground for walking and exercise. Be sure to schedule out-of-the-tank walks for your turtles on a regular interval, preferably once a week or twice a month. When you do bring them outside of their tanks, be sure to accompany and supervise their walks to keep them safe. Also, carefully choose walking grounds where they are safe from potential dangers.
Give Your Pet Turtle Toys
Turtles have the natural instinct to hunt and forage for food. Keep your turtle connected with its wild side and instincts by providing them toys that can stimulate their movement and brains. Give them toys that are appropriate for their size and those that are easy to move around, such as small empty shells for small-sized turtles or medium-sized conch shells for medium to large-sized ones. Place a wooden toy raft over the water for them to push around. For an added challenge, place food items like worms, crickets and other insects on top of the boat in order for your turtle to think about how it can eat the treats aboard the boat.
Allow Your Turtle to Bask in the Sun
Sunlight can be a good source of vitamin D for humans, which aids in the proper development of bones and the strengthening of the immune system. Turtles also need the ultraviolet A and B light from the sun to produce vitamin D3, which is important for surviving and thriving in their new habitat. Like humans, turtles also need vitamin D3 to absorb and metabolize calcium and other important nutrients and minerals. Without this vitamin, your turtle will have an underdeveloped shell, develop bone disorders and will have a decreased lifespan.
Since sufficient exposure to sunlight is next to impossible in an artificial habitat such as a fish tank, you’ll need to supplement your turtle’s UV light needs with a quality UV bulb placed directly over the tank. UVB cannot penetrate glass, so place the bulb where its UV light has the maximum coverage inside the tank. Create a basking platform for your turtle where it can soak up the UV rays for 10 to 12 hours a day. Remember to replace the UV bulb every 9 to 12 months in order for your pet turtle to get the radiation it needs.
Handle Your Turtle with Care
Different kinds of turtles have different kinds of personalities just like we humans do. While some turtle species are sociable and can interact well with humans, the best way to keep your turtle safe is to keep handling at a minimum. Turtles generally do not enjoy being lifted from the ground, but lifting them out occasionally is necessary especially during tank cleaning, or exercise sessions. Care must also be taken if you need to lift them off of their tank. Wash your hands before and after touching or lifting your turtle. Use a gentle antibacterial soap when washing your hands in order to prevent contaminating and irritating your turtle’s skin. Handle your pet turtle gently yet securely in order to avoid letting go of them or having your hand bitten. Never grip tightly, grab its tail, force it out of its shell or put it on its back. Unlike dogs and cats, turtles have low-stress tolerance so avoid constantly touching your pet turtle.
The relationship between a pet and its owner should be a healthy and balanced one. Turtles may seem like stoic and expressionless pets, but they can actually reciprocate the love and attention their owners give them. Seeing your pet turtles grow strong and beautiful over the years is a good indication that they are happy under your care.