The endearing personality of a water turtle is what tempts so many people to bring them home as pets. However, little do we realize the amount of hard work and diligence required to take care of these reptiles. So many pet owners find it difficult to fulfill their responsibility, but by then it is too late. If you're looking to bring home a water turtle, it's important to be aware of the different responsibilities the job of a pet owner entails. Let's take a look at the different tasks that will be required of you.
Pet Water Turtle Requisites
Selecting the Type of Water Turtle
There are several species such as the red-eared sliders, soft-shelled turtle, painted turtles, cooters, mud turtles, musk turtles, etc., that one can choose from. Preferably, choose a local turtle species which has been bred in captivity, because this will make things easier for you. Turtles bred in captivity are used to be confined to a particular space and will not rebel in captivity. Another reason you shouldn't take turtles from the wild, is because of their diminishing numbers. If you want to bring home one as pet, just stick to the ones bred in captivity.
Since water turtles grow to a size of about 12 inches or more, purchase an enclosure that will prove to be large enough in the long run. Get a 20 gallon tank for your turtle. The amount of water to be filled in the tank will depend on the kind of turtle species selected. Red-eared sliders and painted turtles prefer swimming, thus require tanks with enough depth. Shallow waters are ideal for bottom-dwelling musk and snapping turtles. The tank should contain small rocks and flat floating objects that will form hiding places for the turtle.
Lighting and Heating
While breeding any animal in captivity, we need to simulate its natural habitat. The temperature of the water should be between 68-80°F, which can be determined and controlled by getting a submersible water heater. The turtle also needs to absorb vitamins and calcium for which one should have UVA and UVB lighting. Since the turtle needs to bask, provide a basking area that is warmer than the rest of the tank. This can be achieved by placing a clamp-on 60 or 75 Watt incandescent light fixture with a reflector.
Feeding and Filtering
Turtles need to have their food in the water directly, as they cannot swallow their meals otherwise. Thus, one needs to throw in some worms, cooked fish, turkey, chicken, fruits, and vegetables into the water. Once in a while you could also treat them with snails, salamanders, and crayfish. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals. Turtles being messy creatures make the tank very dirty. Canister filters will help filter out all the waste from the tank water. Moreover, regular cleaning is crucial for the well-being of the turtle.
Water turtles are a lot of fun to watch and oft we see children quite enthusiastic about having them as their pets. However, since they are aquatic animals, they demand a lot of maintenance. Unhygienic tank conditions can trigger salmonella bacteria growth, which can even infect us. So, if you bring one home make sure you're able to fulfill the necessary requirements.