Caring for pet turtles aren’t trouble-free, although they’re not unworkable either; they’re a tidbit expensive with the tank maintenance and constant use of electricity with the heat lamp. An economic alternative for many is choosing to care for their turtles in an outdoor pond in their backyard; even with this option there are many other factors to consider which includes climate and safety. Whichever you decide, speaking to a knowledgeable caretaker for turtles (e.g. pet shop owner, zoologist, etc) can help greatly but here are five helpful tips to get you started with your new reptile buddy.
Do you know what nature of turtle you have? Is it a water turtle or a land turtle? Sometimes people find random small turtles on the road and assume they’re box turtles because they found it on land. You can tell a land turtle by noticing touching their shell; if it’s a hard shell, it’s a land turtle. Aquatic turtles would have a softer shell and webbed feet made for swimming.
Do you know the law about turtles? Many people aren’t even aware of what some people have nicknamed the “4in Rule” which came from the 1975 federal law (Title 21 CFR 120.62) banning the sell or distribution of turtles lesser than four inches. According to law documents the ban was centered on a Salmonella outbreak prompting the involvement of the Public Health Services and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Violations of the law had been reinforced around 1994 during the Shrimp and Turtle Case against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Is your outdoor pond climate-friendly? With warmer climates experiencing record low temperatures the weather’s unpredictable. Turtles can’t adjust to colder climates because they’re reptiles and as with all reptiles’ turtles require lots of heat and accurate lighting. With this mind, having a tank and heat lamp is great for bringing the turtles inside when Mother Nature has her mood swings.
Is your outdoor pond safe? Keeping turtles safe and secure in an outdoor pond is imperative due to birds, squirrels, raccoon and other predators. Purchase a safety net to go over and around the pond securing it to the pond liner with stones and gravel.
Last tip: Know the proper care for your turtle. Do not over-feed them but give them the plenty of water, even for land turtles. Don’t abuse them by laying them on their shells.