What should we know before buying a turtle? How do I prepare to buy a turtle?
“I want a turtle at home” – we hear often from our children. The turtle, unfortunately, is considered a perfect pet for a child, and is often recommended by doctors because, in theory, it does not cause allergies. The truth is a little different. Turtles are very demanding and quite delicate animals. It is a common mistake to keep tortoises loose on the floor, which is a great harm for them: we are not able to provide them with the right temperature, humidity and ground, but also safety. Therefore, if we want to have a turtle, let’s think about it beforehand, talk to the breeders, read what conditions should be met, how to arrange a terrarium, which must be of the right size.
If we decide on a turtle, we must first of all decide whether it will be a semi-terrestrial species or a typically terrestrial species. One or the other group requires different conditions. If we have aqua-terrestrial, we need to create a suitable aqua-aquarium with the right amount of water.
It is important to make sure that the species we are interested in is not protected, for example, by the Washington Convention. If so, along with the purchase of the animal, we must demand from the seller documents confirming the legal origin of this animal, because otherwise we risk a very high fine, amounting to thousands of euros.
How to arrange an aquatic tank for a semi-terrestrial turtle?
Very often, in pet stores, young turtles the size of a coin are sold and we can hear from sellers that a 30-liter aquarium will be an ideal solution for such a turtle. This is a big mistake. Even for such a small turtle, the aqua-aquarium should be large enough, and with an adult turtle, we must take into account that it will need a minimum of about 200-300 liters of water, it requires efficient filtration, preferably in the form of an external filter (bucket filter), appropriate lighting, including UV-B lighting, a proper diet, which we set depending on the species we are interested in. Some semi-terrestrial turtles are typical predators, others have a certain percentage of the diet of plants, while others will be typical vegetarians. We need to find out before buying a given pet. We also need to prepare a suitable place for him.
At present, ornamental turtles, i.e. red-eared, yellow-necked and yellow-breasted turtles are very popular in Poland. These are turtles that are on the Invasive Species List. In order to have such a turtle, you need to obtain a special government permit. This group includes not only ornamental turtles, but also False Map Turtle (Graptemys pseudogeographica), lizard and painted turtles (Chrysemys picta). It is worth remembering because we often come across a lot of offers to donate such turtles on the Internet. Let’s remember not to get into trouble, just before we become the owners, obtain the appropriate permit.
How do I breed tortoises?
Another group is tortoises. The most popular Egyptian (Testudo) or Western Hermann’s tortoise are animals that cannot be kept on the floor under any circumstances, as unfortunately it often happens. We have to prepare a terrarium of appropriate size for them, at least 5 x 3 of the body length of an adult turtle – this is the basis, but the larger the better, with different heat zones, selected depending on the species, so that the tortoise can warm up on the so-called an island of heat, which we will create with a heating bulb, but also so that he can find a cooler place in it. We have to choose the right substrate. Do not rely on ready-made mixtures from pet stores, because these are not always good solutions. For most terrestrial species, a self-made mixture of earth, sand and a little clay will be a great substrate. After compacting, it creates a great threshing floor. Alternatively, we can also use turf, i.e. a dug piece of lawn with the soil, which, if properly cared for, will stay in the terrarium for a long time.
The tortoise should not be released on the floor, it does not make sense as it does not need it. Tortoises, like all reptiles, are cold-blooded animals that need an appropriate ambient temperature for the proper functioning of their bodies. Unlike us, they do not have a constant body temperature. Taking the tortoise out of the terrarium, in which it is 28-30 degrees to the floor at 18 degrees, is not doing it well or healthy.
Another thing to keep in mind is that tortoises are carriers of many different pathogens. Most of them are carriers of salmonella, but also other bacteria and viruses that can be dangerous, especially for children. Therefore, let’s make sure that if our child comes into contact with a turtle, they wash their hands thoroughly. Let’s teach children the rules of hygiene to minimize the risk of contracting animal-borne diseases.