Before you buy a turtle watch this video!
How to Buy a Turtle
Turtles are often thought of as being low-maintenance, inexpensive pets. This is far from accurate, however. Purchasing a turtle requires that you do careful research, find a reputable seller, and make arrangements to provide the lifetime of specialized care which they require. It is also important to note that turtles carry salmonella bacteria, which can be hazardous to humans, especially children and seniors.Proper care is important, not just to ensure your turtle's health, but your own as well.
Choosing and Buying a Turtle
Purchase from a reputable seller.Look for clean facilities with healthy-looking animals and readily available documentation regarding the breeds of turtles offered.
- Well-established pet stores are usually safe choices, although the selection of species they offer may be limited. Private sellers and breeders are another option, but should be dealt with more cautiously.
- The illegal sale of wild turtles is surprisingly common. Sellers who are reluctant to provide information about their turtles' breeding should be avoided.
Buy only captive-bred turtles.The sale and purchase of some species of wild turtles is illegal. Furthermore, wild-caught turtles are more likely to be unhealthy in captivity, and removing turtles from their natural habitat can harm wild turtle populations.
- If you are purchasing a turtle from a private breeder, be sure to ask for verification that the turtle has been bred in captivity. If they can't provide you with verification, assume that the turtle is not suitable for purchase as a pet.
Choose a species carefully.While it may be tempting to select a turtle based on their appearance, you should pay much more attention to the care requirements (especially the temperature and food requirements) of each species.
- For instance, if a turtle is native to a climate much hotter or cooler than the one in which you live, you may have a hard time maintaining the proper temperature for it to thrive.
- Another important consideration is the adult size of each turtle species. Some species grow to a larger size than others, and you may end up with a turtle who eventually outgrows the habitat you prepare for it.
- Ask the seller for assistance and recommendations, but be sure to verify the information with credible independent sources. Misconceptions are common, even among pet dealers.
Choose a healthy turtle.When choosing a turtle, ensure that it has clear eyes and is responsive and reasonably active.
- A turtle that has swollen or cloudy eyes, or shows signs of a runny nose is probably sick.
- Unless it is of a soft-shell species, it should have a firm shell (though cracks and pits are not necessarily a sign that anything is wrong).
- A turtle that appears to be gasping through its mouth, or makes a wheezing sound when it breathes, is probably sick.
Identify the turtle's sex.Especially if you are considering owning multiple turtles some day, it is important to be able to identify your turtle's sex. Otherwise, you may end up with unexpected babies. Here are some clues to look for:
- A male turtle typically has a slightly concave underside, while a female turtle's underside is usually flat or slightly bulging.
- In many species, an adult female will be larger than a male.
- In some species, such as red-eared or painted turtles, males will have slightly longer fingernails than females.
- The sex of a turtle can be hard to identify. The seller may be able to help you.
Start with just one turtle.If you purchase more than one turtle at first, you may find yourself overwhelmed and unable to properly care for all of them. Once you are comfortable caring for your turtle, you can consider purchasing more.
- Multiple turtles kept in the same tank may not get along. They may become aggressive to each other, requiring them to be separated.
- Keep in mind also that two turtles will require double the space and water filtration.
- If you do decide to keep multiple turtles in the same tank, ensure that they are roughly the same size. A larger turtle can hurt a smaller one if it becomes aggressive.
Preparing a Proper Turtle Habitat
Research the specific needs of your turtle species.Most turtle species require specific temperature, light and water conditions to be healthy. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for caring for turtles.
- Consult a reputable book or website (such as ) to determine the specific needs of your chosen turtle species.
Prepare a big enough habitat.Glass aquariums are the most popular choice for turtle habitats. As a general rule, you should provide a tank with a capacity of 10 gallons (37.9 L) for every inch of the turtle's shell.
- Be careful to use the measurement for a fully grown adult turtle of the species you select, rather than the measurement of the turtle at the time of purchase. Turtles can and will outgrow their habitat if it isn't large enough.
Select the right foods for your turtle.Turtles require daily feeding. Don't assume that a particular food is suitable for consumption by your turtle unless you have specifically verified it. The diet of your turtle will depend on its species, but common turtle diets include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Live feed, such as crickets and mice
- Turtle feed
- Freeze-dried shrimp
Provide adequate UVA and UVB lighting.Turtles are cold blooded, requiring energy from the sun to function. To simulate the natural light your turtle requires to be happy and healthy, you will need to provide two sources of lighting: a UV-A basking bulb and a UV-B flourescent bulb.
- Both of these light sources must be on and available to the turtle all day, although you may turn them off at night.
- Be sure to select bulbs which explicitly provide UV-A and UV-B light. Many generic basking lamps are insufficient for reptile care.
- Your UV-A bulb should be positioned over a region of dry terrain in your turtle habitat, so that the turtle can bask in it outside of water.
- You should use a ground fault circuit interrupter, a device used to prevent electrocution, to connect your lamps to the electrical outlet. This will ensure that if a lamp falls into the habitat's water it will not electrocute your turtle.
Ensure that your turtle has access to enough water.All turtles, even those dwelling mostly on land, require access to a substantial volume of fresh, clean water to drink and swim in. The amount of water required will vary, depending on the species you choose.
- On the other hand, even predominately aquatic turtles require dry ground to roam around and bask on, such as a turtle dock. Be sure that your habitat accommodates both needs.
Install a filtration system.Because turtles excrete waste in the water in which they swim, you will need to install a filtration system and pump for aquatic turtles, just as you would with a pet fish.
- Because turtles can be quite messy, you should choose a system rated for an aquarium twice the volume of the habitat you've selected.
Provide hiding places.Your turtle may sometimes wish to hide itself from light, and breaking up the space inside your habitat will make it more interesting for your pet.
- Use rocks, pieces of wood, or aquarium decorations to provide a varied environment for your turtle.
Determine whether your turtle should hibernate.Many varieties of turtles naturally enter a dormant state, called hibernation, during the coldest months of the year, while others do not. If your species hibernates, you may need to prepare a suitable environment for it to do so.
- Research the variety of turtle you have. Non-tropical turtles hibernate in the wild.However, many common pet species do not actually need to.
- If in doubt about your turtle's hibernation needs, contact your veterinarian or local turtle club.
- If you do allow your turtle to hibernate, the details of the environment it needs will vary depending on the species. You should thoroughly investigate your turtle's hibernation requirements before starting this process. Generally, hibernating turtles require a cool, isolated and stable environment for between 2 and 4 months of the year.
- Many find it convenient to allow their turtle to hibernate in a refrigerator, or other cool, dry location.
Don't allow your turtle to roam outside.When non-native turtle species are allowed to enter the natural environment, they can disrupt or even destroy native turtle populations. Releasing your turtle into the wild is therefore irresponsible and dangerous.
- If you decide that you can no longer care for your pet turtle, contact your local animal shelter or humane society to donate it for adoption, or return it to its original seller.
Deciding if a Turtle is the Right Pet for You
Think about the care requirements for a turtle.Despite the popular perception that turtles are easy to care for, they in fact require specialized, daily care to survive and thrive.
- Your turtle may live 25 years or longer, depending on the species, so you should be prepared for a long-term commitment.
- Many turtles require live food, such as mice or insects, to thrive. If you are uncomfortable feeding your turtle live animals, you may wish to reconsider your choice.
Consider the space and cost requirements.A small aquarium or plastic habitat will not be sufficient for most turtles. Due to their specialized needs, setting up a proper environment for a turtle is likely to cost you between 0 and 00, depending on the species.
- You will also need to provide adequate clean water (and space) for them to swim in, as well as enough dry ground for them to roam about and bask on. Specialized lighting and water filtration equipment will also be a requirement.
Look into the health risks of owning a turtle.Turtles can carry salmonella, a bacteria which can cause infection and illness, especially in children and elderly people. This is a serious health concern, and if any at-risk individuals are present in your home you should strongly reconsider purchasing a turtle.
- Remember that you do not need to touch a turtle to contract salmonella from it. Mere proximity to the turtle may be enough to risk infection.
Recognize normal turtle behavior.Turtles are shy, quiet animals. They will withdraw into their shells if startled and may remain like this for some time. They can, however, learn to recognize their owners and will often swim to the surface or near the glass when you enter the room.
- Turtles will also learn when it is feeding time, and may become especially active at the appointed hour.
- Turtles are not social creatures. They will not display affectionate or playful behavior. It is normal for them to sit still a lot. If you are looking for an active, affectionate pet, turtles may not be for you.
QuestionWhat size tank should I get for one turtle?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends how big the turtle is. You can get an average large fish tank, or if you have a larger turtle, then you may want to consider an outside pond. Make sure that your turtle can't get out, and that there is a nice hideout. You'll also want to put an outside pond out of plain sight, so as not to stress your turtle.Thanks!
QuestionIs it best to have one tank or two for living and feeding?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerOne tank is all that is needed. Your turtle can live and feed in the same place.Thanks!
QuestionIs there any way to know if my turtle carries salmonella?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should assume that your turtle does, but this isn't something you need to be overly concerned about. As long as you wash your hands before and after handling your turtle, the salmonella shouldn't pose a risk to you.Thanks!
QuestionDoes my turtle need a filter?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends on what type of turtle you have. If it is a turtle that lives in water, yes, you will need a filter.Thanks!
QuestionWhat stores in Waynesboro have turtles?Dillen WoellertCommunity AnswerGo to the closest pet store.Thanks!
Is it okay for my turtle to live in a very small tank?
- Always wash your hands in warm, soapy water after handling a turtle to reduce the risk of salmonella infection.
- When buying a turtle, be wary of the signs of injury that are often present in wild-caught turtles. These turtles are often caught using hooks and traps that can scrape or cut them. Many of these turtles die before reaching the market.
- Be sure you can provide your turtle with a habitat that will not be accessible to other pets in your home. Dogs and cats, in particular, may try to kill or eat your new turtle.
Video: BEFORE you BUY a TURTLE WATCH THIS VIDEO!!!!!
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