Turtle Care

What do turtles eat? What type of housing do turtles require? From which ailments do turtles suffer? To care for your turtle successfully, you”ll have to answer these questions.

What Do Turtles Eat?

Most turtles are omnivores. In practice, this means that turtles eat a wide variety of foodstuffs. Turtles that live outdoors hunt for invertebrates, given the opportunity. Some delicacies they enjoy include:

  • slugs
  • snails
  • caterpillars
  • grasshoppers
  • crickets
  • beetles
  • earthworms
  • mealworms
  • wax worms.

In reality, turtles aren”t going to survive simply on the results of their hunting forays. Their diet can be supplemented with small pieces of cooked meat or with canned dog food.

As they grow older, turtles tend to eat an increasingly large amount of fruit and vegetables. Fruits you could try out on your turtle include:

  • apples
  • apricots
  • bananas
  • blackberries
  • blueberries
  • grapes
  • kiwifruits
  • mangoes
  • melons
  • papayas
  • peaches
  • pears
  • raspberries
  • strawberries.

Larger fruits should be chopped up before feeding them to your turtle but small soft fruits can be served whole.

Turtles are also partial to a wide variety of other plants as food, for example:

  • alfalfa
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • clover
  • dandelion leaves
  • kale
  • lettuce
  • bok choi (Chinese cabbage).

Turtles that are able to roam outdoors create their own Vitamin D, from the effect of sunlight on the skin. If your turtle lives indoors permanently, you should include a Vitamin D supplement in the diet.

Box Turtle Habitat

Box turtles survive best living outdoors in a grassy, partly shaded, secure enclosure. Ideally, they should also have a hutch containing bedding (which should be changed regularly) and also easy access to food and fresh water.

During the winter, box turtles usually hibernate; a container filled with slightly moist, cool earth and dry rotting leaves makes an excellent environment for hibernation.

Painted Turtle Habitat

Painted turtles like to spend most of their time in and around water. They should be kept in a large aquarium or pool containing rockssome just below the surface of the water and others above the surface to give a dry area for the turtles to bask. A heat lamp can substitute for sunlight.

The volume of water should be deep enough and broad enough for the painted turtles to swim around in comfortably.

Turtle Ailments

Turtles, generally, are long-lived creatures that can survive for 25 years or more, if looked after carefully. However, they are susceptible to certain complaints:

  • dehydration
  • mites or other parasites
  • respiratory problems indicated by nasal mucous and discharge from the eyes
  • skin lesions and abscesses.

Most of these conditions can be avoided by ensuring that the turtles have hygienic surroundings to live in, adequate light, a balanced and varied diet and regular supplies of clean water. If necessary, turtles can be ”cleaned up” using a mild antibiotic solution applied to the affected areas.

Warning

Turtles, like other reptiles, can carry salmonella bacteria, which cause sickness and diarrhea in humans. For that reason, turtles should never be fed raw eggs, raw meat or other substances that could contain salmonella. Similarly, keep food items and utensils used while caring for your turtle away from your kitchen. Hand washing and other personal hygiene standards should be maintained fastidiously by anyone looking after turtles, in order to avoid any risk of contamination by salmonella.