How to Take Care of a Turtle

Updated on July 1, 2019
Florence Esther profile image

Florence has a great admiration for pets and animals in general. This passion has resulted in her offering useful tips on pet care.

Turtles may not be cuddly, but they are cute and fascinating. They are also a great choice as pets since they are easy to maintain as long as you provide them with a habitable environment. There are different types of turtles, all of which you can keep as pets as long as you familiarize yourself with how to take care of them.

If you want to keep your turtle happy, you need to provide:

  • Food
  • A hiding place
  • Special lighting and heat
  • Protection from predators.

This article will teach you turtle parenting skills to ensure you are successful in your commitment to rearing one.

When putting up a house for your pet, you need to acknowledge the fact that turtles are cold-blooded creatures and highly sensitive to temperature changes.

Housing Your Turtle

There are two types of turtles: aquatic, which spend 75% of their time underwater and only go on land when basking or laying eggs, and semi-aquatic turtles which spend 50% of their time in land and the rest on land. When putting up a house for your pet, you need to acknowledge the fact that turtles are cold-blooded creatures and highly sensitive to temperature changes. Consider the following features when choosing the right tank for your pet.

Turtle Housing Requirements

  • You need non-chlorinated water that should be added depending on the type of turtle you are rearing. If you are rearing the aquatic turtle, the habitat should be 75% water and if it’s semi-aquatic, water should cover 50% of the habitat.
  • Other than the swimming water, you need to provide a spring of fresh water for drinking. This water should be changed on a daily basis to prevent contamination.
  • Heat and lighting are essential and you can use UVB and UVA bulbs which mimic the natural light sources. UV lighting is responsible for providing your pet with Vitamin D.
  • The tank should have proper ventilation for the provision of fresh air.
  • A turtle requires the water to be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the air to be around 80 degrees. Your turtle tank needs to have thermometers to read these requirements so that you can always adjust accordingly.
  • It should be divided into swimming and basking areas. The size of the latter depends on the size of the turtle or the number of turtles you have. Also, if you have a semi-aquatic turtle, the basking area needs to be large since he spends most of the time on land.
  • If you are rearing multiple turtles in the same aquarium, each turtle will require at least 10 gallons worth of space.

Feeding Your Turtle

Different turtle species have different nutritional requirements and, therefore, may require you to talk to a veterinarian before feeding your pet. Some turtle species are herbivorous, meaning they feed on plant materials only. Carnivores feed on meat, and omnivores feeding on both meat and plants. Whichever type of turtle you are rearing, it is important to ensure that the food you feed him meets the nutritional requirements. You can easily get turtle food from your local pet store which offers the following nutritional benefits:

Turtle Feeding Recommendations

  • Fruits and vegetables: Fresh veggies are essential in filling your pet’s daily diet. When choosing veggies, consider the leafy green such as kales, carrot tops, lettuce, collard green, and spinach. Other vegetables include yams, beets, corns, peas, carrots, and squash. Fruits should also be included in your turtle’s diet with the best fruits being tomato, apples, kiwi, cantaloupe, strawberries, banana, and mangoes. You can also include flowers such as lilies, dandelions, geraniums, and carnations. Ensure the veggies are chopped into small sizes before feeding your turtle.
  • Proteins: Your pet requires protein which you can get from eggs, snails, crickets, mealworms, and earthworms.
  • Commercial foods: From time to time, you should sneak commercial food made specifically for turtles since it is rich in calcium, phosphorous, and has vitamin A.

Healthy turtle meal
Healthy turtle meal

Keeping Your Turtle Hygienic

Good grooming for your turtle is essential and as it ensures that your pet is always healthy. You can achieve good grooming through:

Turtle Hygene Tips

  • Regularly cleaning the aquarium and changing the water to prevent contamination. When cleaning, ensure you remove all parts of the tank including materials on the basking spot of your turtle. Cleaning should be done with warm water and anti-bacterial soap and you should leave the rocks to soak before cleaning them thoroughly. After cleaning, put everything back and refill the tank with non-chlorinated water.
  • Ensuring the filtration system is always working property so as to prevent feces and food particles build up.
  • Always ensure you clean your hands before handling your turtle to prevent germs transfer.

Ensuring Your Turtle Is in Good Health

Turtles are prone to aquatic diseases if you fail to meet some of the care requirements, including poor husbandry or low water quality. However, you can keep your pet healthy by doing the following:

Turtle Health Considerations

  • Offer an appropriate aquarium size: Your turtle requires adequate housing to minimize contamination and the size should be determined by the number of turtles you keep and the size of the turtle. When the tank is too small, your turtle will not have enough space and can easily suffer from stress. If the turtle gets stressed, his immune system will weaken making him prone to infections.
  • Proper heating: The aquarium should be properly heated so as to maintain the optimal body temperatures of your turtle. You can use a heating lamp which imitates sun heat hence prompting the turtle to heat out of the water to busk. The other option is the use of heat water which is especially suitable if you are rearing the pure aquatic turtles.
  • Light provision: Supply of light is essential as it provides your turtle with calcium which helps in bone and shell health. UVB lighting should be provided to turtles of all ages.
  • Good diet: Feed your turtle depending on the species. If you are not sure which the right food for your pet is, consider talking to the vet for advice. If you are rearing the aquatic turtles, they prefer eating in water and you should always remember to remove any leftovers to prevent water contamination.
  • Always provide high-quality water: The aquarium water should always be fresh and free of food particles. You can tell the tank is dirty if you smell a bad odor or if the filters are blocked.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2018 Florence Esther


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    • Aakrist profile image


      14 months ago

      Bhagavad Gita cites the tortoise as an example of meditation for elevation to Krishna consciousness. Turtles and tortoises are in the reptile family, which means that they are ectothermic, or cold-blooded. Cold-blooded animals rely on external heat sources, such as warm ground, hot rocks, or sunshine, to warm their bodies. Turtles are the original sun worshippers and can often be found sleeping on rocks or logs, soaking up the sun's rays.


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