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Captive maintenance of aquatique turtles

Before we start buying or even think about getting an animal like a turtle you should keep in mind these few points.

  • Turtles are no toys. They are not suited to give to a child as a present. These animals are living beings that need constant attention, and should be taking care of by an adult. (of course children can help cleaning and handling the animals, so they can get used to them) Be very carefull if you leave the turtles in children's hands, medium sized animals can bite very hard.
  • Of course when you buy a juvenile animal, they look very cute and are very small. But these animals grow there hole lives and some of them can get very big. Do not keep turtles in the plastic containers with the palm tree in the center. Use a big enough fish tank, that is for sale in any good pet shop, or make you're own tank.


  • Are you ready for a long time commitment? Turtles can live from 10-40  years or more in captivity. Box turtles can even reach ages of about 50-100 years.
  • Do you have any experiance with reptiles? Reptiles are not like cats or dogs.
  • Did you read a good book that explains the A-Z of the turtle. It's always interesting before getting started with any hobby for that matter, that you read something about the subject you want to get started with, in this case herpetological book on turtles.
  • Join a Herp or turtle club. There you will get the best info about getting started and hear about the pro's and contra's of keeping specified turtles. In a club there will always be people that have juveniles for sale, so you know where the animal comes from.
  • Don't start with difficult species, but with the more easier turtles like the red-ear, or other kinds of sliders or cooters.

What do we have to look for when buying or getting a healty turtle.

  • Make sure it's eyes aren't swollen but are clear, open and have a bright glanse on them. Swollen eyes are often the result of poor water quality or a vitamin A deficiency.

  • when you try to get a hold of the turtle, does it try to swim away or does it stay put? healthy animals instinctevely  try to get away. 

  • Is the turtle shell intact? Does it feel hard? If the animals shell feels soft then this animal has a calcium deficiency. 

  • When the animal walks on land, does it use all of its legs?

  • When the animals breaths it's mouth must be closed. They should breath through there nose and not make any sound. Animals that make a "whistling" sound may a  have respiratory disease.

  • Ask the person you are getting the animal from,  if it's eating normaly. Let him give the turtle a peace of food, and see if its eaten immidiatly.

  • Does the tank where the animals house in look clean? 

  • Put the animals on its back, A healthy animal will try to get on its legs again

  • If you pick up the turle with its front legs, is it strong enough to hold on and pull its self up?



Some people have to learn the hard way and have there own opinion on how to keep turtles. That's fine by me, but think about the animals first and then about yourself. Aquarium that is decorated with plants nicer to look at than a tank with nothing in it, i agree, but do turtles need decoration? Plastic plants won't do, because they will eat them and this may cause harm to the animal. There are many things people put in there tank together with there turtles, just to have it look nicer. It's just like some fiche tanks with the sunken boats and the plastic treasure trunk that blows air bubbles... terrible, but tastes differ. Putting a water heater in the tank is a wrong way of keeping turtles. These heaters are dangerous and should not be fitted in a turtle tank. They could cause electric shock to you and your animals. When you want to use a heater for what ever reason, unplug the electrical cord before going into the tank with your hands. Make sure the heater is secured behind a peace of glass or put it in your filter when this is possible.  Heating the water is fine but you have to heat the air too. This is the mistake that is made to often, the air temp. is colder than the water temp. If you heat the water temp. to about 24 C and the air temp. is only 18-22 C(roomtemp.) then the animals will constantly breath cold air and this way turtles may get respiratory infections. Vie seen people that use light bulbs and keep them burning day and night. The animals need to have a resting period and nighttime is the Wright time. Instead of a clear light bulb of 60 Watt, put in a dark colored one of 25 watt ( red, green, bleu). This giver's a little light and a little heat. The temp. has to go down at night just like it does in nature, thus giving the animals a natural sleeping period.
Give your animals a wide veraity of food, don't give adult animals food everyday, 2 times a week is more than enough. If you do want to feed them everyday give small portions. If you feed and there's some food left in the water then you fed them to much. Juveniles can be fed daily. Animals that are fed daily get fat, this could lead to there dead.
Don't buy or take in to much turtles at once. Juveniles are small, but some species grow very fast and get very big, so that the tank you bought for your baby turtles will soon be to small. Try to stay with one species, don't start a collection of animals from different regions which all need different kind of housing and or food. Don't buy a tank and a turtle at the same time. Get the tank installed and get it running with light and filters, then if everything works get the animals you want. If you already got a few turtles and you want to expand your collection, put the new animals in quarantine for a couple of weeks.