Turtles as pets
Turtles are wonderful animals to keep as pets. Although they aren’t cuddly, and won’t play fetch, they are still cute and are great to observe.
Before buying a turtle, buy a book about keeping turtles as pets, and then decide from there what type of turtle you wish to purchase, plus what food they eat and how they live. It will also have tips for when turtles get sick. Also consider laws and regulations on the transportation and housing of certain species of turtle. Be sure not to purchase turtles that are among these regulated turtles. Most pet stores won’t sell these turtles, but it’s important to check out the species you buy before buying a turtle.
Housing your turtle
Once you’ve chosen your turtle, you should find where it would live in the wild, so you can replicate that habitat so it can be as happy as possible. Aquatic turtles require a tank or aquarium. If possible, buy a large one so that your turtle can grow and still have lots of room to swim. It’s also important to give turtles a bit of land to rest on.
Land turtles can live indoors but often require lots of space, especially if they are big. Small tortoises and box turtles can live in an aquarium (without water). Make sure they have plenty of light (not too close as you can damage their eyes). If you decide to keep your turtle outdoors, make sure you get a good fence around the area (buried 30 cm underground) because you don't want your turtle running away! This also keeps out predators. Keeping your turtle outdoors is a great way to keep your turtle happy and healthy.
Feeding and digestion
Food is very important because without food your turtle will not last very long. Some turtles are carnivores, while others are herbivores. Most of the time it’s the land turtles who are herbivores, but it is best to ask the people at the pet store before you buy 10 kg of lettuce for a turtle that eats worms.
You can buy pre-packaged food for both kinds of eaters. Tortoises often like lettuce, which is good because it’s inexpensive and readily available. Make sure you choose the leafy vitamin-rich lettuce rather then the iceberg lettuce.
If your turtle gets sick
Take it to your vet! Many diseases are caused by improper care and your vet or reptile expert can point out where you can improve your turtle’s quality of life.
The best way to deal with illness is to prevent it. To do this, make sure you are feeding your turtle properly, have the turtle in good living quarters and keep the turtle clean. If you have a water turtle, make sure you change the water frequently. If this is too much trouble, you can buy a filter that will circulate and replace the water automatically. The bottom line is to make sure you look after your turtle properly.