Do you have an interest in owning a pet turtle? Perhaps you’re looking for a low maintenance pet that is easy to care for. Unfortunately, the opposite can be true; turtles are a high maintenance pet. If you still have your eyes set on owning a pet turtle, follow along as we take a look at some interesting facts and tips on turtle ownership.
Turtles are high maintenance
You can’t just purchase a tiny plastic enclosure, throw in some sand and water, and expect your turtle to live a long vibrant life. In fact according to the Humane Society, turtles require specific temperatures with correct cage or enclosure lighting. They also require ample attention to ensure they are receiving what they need to survive. At a minimum, count on purchasing a water filtration system and a fairly large enclosure or fish tank to house your turtle.
Turtle sales are regulated – the sale of small turtles is illegal
Make sure you buy your pet turtle from a reputable seller, some mail order and online sellers will try to circumvent the size requirements regulated by the FDA. The sellers attempt to get around the law by stating the turtles will be used for educational or scientific reasons, which of course is false. The FDA requires that turtles have a minimum shell length of 4 inches or longer and for a very specific reason- to prevent the spread of salmonella.
Small Turtles spread salmonella
According to the CDC, small turtles are one of the most highly recognized sources of the spread of salmonella in children. The small turtle ban has been hailed as a preventative measure that has saved children from over 100,000 cases of salmonellosis. This is due to the fact they are frequently handled by young children and incorrectly thought of as safe. Children have died as a result, and often require significant medical intervention when salmonella is spread due to the handling of a pet turtle. The elderly are also at high risk due to their weaker immune systems.
The difference between a turtle and a tortoise
Do you know the difference between a turtle and a tortoise? Yes they both are reptiles, however they have differences. The most recognizable difference between the two is their diet and the habitat they exist in. Turtles spend most of their time in water and need a cage environment abundant in filtered clean water. According to PetSmart, they also have webbed feet. Tortoises on the other hand are land based reptiles with big blocky stumps for feet. One other key difference is tortoises are herbivores, whereas turtles are omnivores.
Choose the correct species of turtle or tortoise
There are many different species of turtles and tortoises. If you are still interested in purchasing a turtle, or if you own one already, make sure you study your particular variety to ensure you have given them a proper environment. Decide on if you want a tortoise or turtle before you buy that way you can purchase the correct supplies. Many pet stores have packages that will provide everything you need to ensure proper care for your particular species.
“Caring for your Pet Turtle” – Michigan State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital