Are you thinking about adding a turtle to your family? Caring for a pet turtle is different than caring for a more traditional pet. Here are five tips to ensure that you and your new pet stay happy and healthy together.
Health Risk to Humans
A turtle may seem like a great first pet for a small child. However, that is not necessarily the case. Turtles actually carry Salmonella, a bacteria commonly associated with raw meat. Salmonella poses a significant health risk to people, especially babies and the elderly (Humane Society).
If you do choose to get a turtle, always wash your hands thoroughly after handling it. You should also disinfect any surfaces that the turtle has been on to reduce the risk of contamination.
Choosing to adopt a turtle is not a short term commitment. Depending upon your age, your turtle could even outlive you!
One popular breed of turtle, the Red Eared Slider can live from 20 – 50 years when properly cared for (Petco). It’s important when deciding to get a turtle to realize that you are potentially making a very long term commitment to another living thing.
Believe it or not, turtles need to be seen by a vet annually just like dogs and cats. While they don’t need vaccinations, turtles do need yearly blood and fecal tests to check for parasites (AAHC).
Before acquiring a pet turtle, do plenty of research to find a vet with experience and expertise in treating reptiles. You don’t want to have a turtle health emergency on your hands and not know who to call for help.
Figuring out what to feed your turtle can be confusing. What turtles eat largely depends on the kind of turtle you have. One diet does not fit all turtles!
According to Drs. Foster and Smith, tortoises are herbivores, aquatic turtles are carnivores, and semi-aquatic turtles are omnivores.
Regardless of what your turtle eats, be sure to clean up after mealtime so that the tank stays clean.
No, you don’t need to put your turtle on a leash and take him for a walk. He does need exercise, though!
You can create exercise opportunities for your turtle in his habitat by giving him a place to dig and enough water to swim in. It is also okay to let your turtle explore the great outdoors for a bit, but he needs to be under careful supervision. Never have another animal outside with your turtle, as the other animal could harm your shelled reptilian friend (The Happy Pet Vet).