Pet Turtles

Turtles make great pets. They”re quite hardy and fun to watch. They”re certainly not noisy, and they”re particularly appropriate for families in which one or more members is allergic to pet hair!

However, pet turtles aren”t necessarily a good choice for all families. If your children expect a great deal of interaction, for example, they may lose interest when the pet turtles decide to slow down during the cold winter months. And turtles retreat quickly into their shells when they feel intimidated.

Types of Pet Turtles

Once you”ve convinced yourself that you can provide a decent home environment for pet turtles, you have to decide on which of the varieties of turtle you should choose.

Although some pet stores sell tropical turtles, they require a great deal more care and attention than North American species such as box turtles and painted turtles. One other point to consider is that turtles are potentially long lived creatures; they can survive for 25 years or more, so taking on pet turtles should definitely be regarded as a long term project.

Box Turtles

Box turtles are omnivores that live on land, with a preference for moist conditions. They can be kept outdoors in a suitable enclosure, as long as they have a hutch or some other kind of shelter to house their bedding and to provide them with somewhere to avoid the hot sun.

In winter, box turtles like to hibernate; a container filled with dry rotting leaves and slightly moist, cool earth is ideal for this purpose.

Box turtles get their name from the ”boxy” profile of their chunky carapaces. They have dark brown shells, sometimes with yellow markings, and their eyes are red. Box turtles grow to about six inches (15 cm) in length.

Painted Turtles

Painted turtles live mostly in water, but do require some dry land where they like to bask between sessions in the pool. A large tank or pool of clean water containing a few large rocks that extend above the surface is the ideal habitat for painted turtles. Like box turtles, they, too, are omnivores.Painted turtles have long, smooth, narrow shells up to ten inches (25 cm) in length. They”re dark olive green or black in color with red and yellow stripes on the legs and neck.

Choosing Healthy Pet Turtles

Once you”ve decided on which type of pet turtle you want, your next task is to find a specimen in good condition.Here are a few pointers:

  • If possible, select a turtle bred in captivity; specimens born in the wild are often stressed and in poor condition.
  • Check that the turtle looks healthy, with clear eyes and no signs of disease.
  • Pick up the creature; a healthy turtle should pull its legs away and attempt to escape from you.
  • Carapaces should feel solid and be free from imperfections.

When they”re given good care, pet turtles can make a marvelous long term impact on your home and family and give many years of pleasure.