Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tips for Owning a Turtle

5 Ways to Keep Your Turtle Healthy and Happy

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

Congratulations, new turtle owner! Turtles have walked the earth for over 200 million years. Who would have thought that a reptile with such ancient lineage would be considered one of the most popular known pets today? According to Petsmart, a major retailer specializing in the sale and care of pets, turtles have sharp eyesight, an acute sense of smell, and they make fascinating four-legged companions.

As your turtle settles in, there are five ways that you can ensure that he lives a long and happy life:
  1. Keep him fed. Turtles are omnivores, which means they eat both plant and animal food. As most humans like veggies, salads, and steak, turtles enjoy green leafy vegetables and bugs, most notably crickets and worms. Veterinary experts also recommend that you add commercially prepared turtle pellets. These can be easily purchased at any reputable pet store. Feed them and make sure that you remove any uneaten food daily. Also consider asking your pet retailer about any supplements that your turtle might need.
  2. Make sure he gets plenty of water. All living organisms known to man need water to survive. Always make sure that your turtle has lots of fresh clean water, both for swimming and to drink.
  3. Keep his habitat clean. Do a full thorough cleaning of your turtle tank and change the filter every two to three weeks minimum. Do periodic checks for rotting food and feces and remove them promptly.
  4. Ensure that he has good heating and lighting sources. As reptiles, turtles need consistent lighting sources to thrive and heating elements to help them maintain their body temperature. Your pet supply store will offer you many options for this. Take your time and choose the best bulbs and heating sources for the habitat that you're constructing for your pet. Avoid direct sunlight.
  5. Make certain that his environment is free of predators at all times. Turtles have many natural predators, i.e. cats, dogs, raccoons, some types of birds, snakes, etc. Never leave your turtle unsupervised in an area where these types of predators may lurk.
Turtles typically tend to have long life spans, so accidents withstanding, If you follow the above tips your turtle should provide you many years of entertainment and fun. You might even be tempted to expand your turtle family as you become more of an expert at providing your pet's necessary love and care.

*Photo: Henry Tseng via Flickr

[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 05/07/2014 (no longer published there).]