Turtles make great pets when given the proper care. Their enclosure should include areas for swimming as well as basking and drying off. A fish aquarium is easily turned into a turtle tank. Only fill the tank as much as twice the width of the turtle shell and have lots of areas for the turtle to climb out and dry off. Once housed properly, they are quite easy to care for. With proper care, these turtles can live 75 years or more, so turtle ownership is not a commitment to be taken lightly!
A full grown red-eared slider can reach 12 inches in length. Males tend to be smaller than females, but have large claws on the front legs and longer tails than females.
Red eared sliders are omnivores, meaning they eat a mixture of animal and plant material. Younger turtles are more carnivorous (eat more animal protein) than adults. Juveniles should be fed daily, but adults can be fed every 2 -3 days.
Turtles can be fed a mixture of prepared commercial food and fresh food. Special food formulated for turtles can be used, but should only make up about 25% of total diet. The proportions of fresh supplements will depend on the turtle’s age, but can include live feeder fish, earthworms, crickets, wax-worms, bloodworms, aquatic snails, fresh greens (collard, mustard and dandelion greens, and dark leafy lettuces but never head lettuce), aquatic plants, and shredded vegetables.
A good quality complete reptile vitamin and mineral supplement should be added to food once or twice a week. In addition, extra calcium can be provided by giving turtles a cuttlebone (break into pieces and float in the water) or calcium block to nibble on.
The water temperature should be kept about 70 – 75 degrees and can be maintained with a submersible aquarium heater. The basking area should be kept between 85 – 90 degrees to allow your turtle to completely dry off. A UV fluorescent bulb for reptiles is necessary; it helps your turtle process calcium and helps prevent metabolic bone disease.
A submersible filter should be used in your turtle tank. Turtles are quite messy and good filtration will keep your animals healthy and happy. To help keep your tank clean, feed your turtle outside its home in a Tupperware or other plastic container. Regular cleaning of the filter will also help extend its lifetime.
Substrate is not needed for turtles as it makes cleaning a lot more difficult. A bear bottom tank is sufficient for your pet.
Turtles will eat almost anything so don’t put any synthetic or plastic decorations in the tank. They will try to eat them and may get sick from doing so. Use live aquatic plants that are safe for your turtles to eat. Large rocks and driftwood are suitable decorations. To prevent mishaps, make sure your turtle cannot get stuck in holes in rocks or cannot dig under heavy items in the tank.
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