Turtle

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Google Maps location for Mulberry Lane Vet Hospital

Mulberry Lane Vet Hospital
294 Lords Place
Orange
NSW 2800

Phone:
02 6360 3071

Quick Facts:

− The main species kept as pets include the long-necked turtles and short-necked turtles

− Turtles do have specific requirements according to their species that must be met in captive conditions

− Freshwater turtles are protected species, remember to check state laws regarding keeping them as pets

 

Housing:

− Suitable enclosures include indoor aquarium set-ups, for most adult turtles a 1.2m long tank can be used bu the bigger the better. Turtles need to be in water to eat, drink and deafacate so fill the tank 2/3 to 3/4 full, the depth should be at least 2 times the length of the turtles shell.

− Turtles should also be provided with a basking area where they can be completely dry, this can be created by attaching a sloping ramp at one end of the tank, for a 1.2m tank a 30cm basking area is sufficient.

− Material for the bottom of the tank can be provided by gravel or pebbles in a layer of around 3-5cm ensuring the pieces are large enough that the turtle can't swallow them. However it is easier to keep the tank clean if there is no substrate present

− Water temperature should be monitored with a submersible aquarium thermometer or adhesive strip thermometer, the water should be heated using a thermostatically controlled aquarium water heater to around 20-28C depending on the species. The basking area can also be heated using a reflector or ceramic globe, some species require a temperature of up to 35C in the basking area

− Turtles rely on UVB light to be able to adequately produce Vitamin D3 in their skin which is essential for proper calcium metabolism. Correct lighting can also stimulate natural foraging and feeding behaviours. UVB light can be provided by artificial UV-lights, most UV-lights designed for reptiles need to be placed at a minimum distance from the reptile and their UVB emission lifespan is usually around 3-6 months so need to be replaced at least every 6 months.

− However there is no substitute for natural sunlight! Turtles should be placed in sunlight for 20-30 minute periods 2-3 times a week. The sunlight should not pass through any glass or plastic as this can filter out the UVB rays. Ensure the turtle is enclosed in an escape proof and predator proof container with shallow water and also that they have access to shade. Recommended day and night cycles for most of the turtle species 12hrs light and 12hrs dark.

− Good water quality is vital and there are many factors that can affect this including pH, water hardness and water cleanliness. Turtles can produce a lot of waste and it is a good idea to become familiar with the nitrogen cycle.

− A common cause of illness in turtles is poor water quality, the water in the tank needs to be continuously filtered with ideally a biological water filter system which helps remove toxic nitrogen compounds.

− It is a good idea to use a water conditioner if using tap water to top up the tank and a weekly 25% water change is recommended.

− There are aquarium test kits you can use to measure the level of different nitrogen compounds in the water on a regular basis including ammonium, nitrate, pH and hardness of the water. The pH should be >7 – 8.4 and water hardness should be140 – 210 ppm (this is the measurement of dissolved salts in the water and is measured in “parts per million”). Adding aquarium conditioning salts can be helpful in maintaining hardness, use the recommended concentration of 5g aquarium salt per 10L of water.

 

Care:

− Long-necked turtles are mostly carnivorous while the Short-necked turtles vary from herbivorous to carnivorous.

− Remember turtles need to be submerged in water to feed and are prone to overeating and eating the 'wrong' foods if given the chance.

− Offer Long-necked turtles a variety of whole fish (freshwater fish species, white bait, shellfish), shellfish (fresh and salt water prawns, yabbies), molluscs (freshwater snails and mussels), insects (moths, crickets, roaches, flies) and worms.

− Offer Short-necked turtles the same as Long-necked turtles but in addition offer vegetable matter such as freshwater plants including Duckweeds, Ribbonweed and Nardoo, as well as vegetables and fruits such as spinach, parsley, dark leafed lettuces, cabbage, broccoli, pumpkin, tomato, apples, pears and stone fruit etc.

− Ensure any salt water food items are soaked in freshwater before feeding for at least a few hours, if offering prawns the spiny head should be removed for adult turtles and totally shelled for juveniles. Try to feed a mix of fresh and frozen foods as freezing can destroy some vitamins. Avoid raw meat or pet foods.

− Feed a portion around the size of the turtles head, for adults feed 1-2 times a week and juveniles feed every two days. It can also be a good idea to supplement their food monthly using a powder supplement that can be made into a slurry and injected into the food before feeding. Alternatively you can use a liquid multivitamin/mineral preparation and inject it into the food also.

− Any uneaten food should be removed within a few hours to help keep the water clean or the turtles can be placed into a separate container for feeding.

 

Health Notes:

− It is essential that you quarantine any new turtles, it is not worth the risk of introducing disease or parasites to your existing turtles.

− Always have any new turtle examined by your vet and continue to have your turtles vet-checked annually, especially if you intend to breed them. Parasite checks and blood screens can be also be performed. It is a good idea to bring a sample of their tank water with you to the vets, use a clean jar or obtain a specimen container from the vet beforehand. It is also a good idea to regularly weigh your turtle.

− Always wash your hands after handling any reptile and between handling each one.

− Turtles can be transported in a sealed, flat bottomed containers with air holes on soft, moist towels. Never transport them in water and ensure they cannot escape or overheat

 

Copyright; Mulberry Lane Veterinary Hospital