Read About Turtle Species

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Choosing a Turtle Species

When you make the choice to get a new pet and turtles are on the list, you might want some help with choosing a turtle species. Turtles can be rewarding animals to keep and have longer life expectancies than many other pet options. As always, before obtaining a turtle, reading about turtles and learning their traits is imperative. Turtle reference books can be found for an affordable price. Most turtle owners who are not necessarily looking for a challenge from their pet turtle opt for one of four turtle species.

Aquatic turtles spend most of their lives in water, but do like to hang out on solid ground from time to time. That said it is important to make sure that you provide them an environment which is both wet and dry, with clean water (lots of it) and mud or gravel to burrow into. Most aquatic turtles available in the US are Sliders and Painted Turtles. Both can grow to nearly a foot in length as adults. They also have similar diets, which include commercial turtle foods, small feeder fish, worms and sometimes lettuce. They will also need a certain amount of sunlight to bask in and warm their cold-blooded bodies. Their main difference is appearance; the Slider is greenish-brown with random yellow stripes and markings and red flashes on either side of the head and the Painted Turtle is somewhere between dark green and black with a smoother flatter shell and both red and yellow stripes on the head and legs.

If your tastes are leaning more toward terrestrial turtles you can look into two other popular varieties. Box Turtles come in a few different breeds. These turtles are known for having a higher, more rounded arc on their shells. There are also Mud Turtles. These guys both are smaller than six or so inches at their largest and need a relatively large pen. Many turtle experts demand that terrestrial turtles be kept in a pen to ensure the turtles’ safety, but many turtle keepers have kept turtles in their back yards roaming free for years. Terrestrial turtles really develop distinctive personalities and respond well to their owners if kept healthy and well-fed. Box and Mud Turtles are happy to eat just about anything from berries and fruit to small fish and an occasional treat of dog or cat food. They develop individual tastes, so learn what they like and go with it. These are also known for their burrowing habits. They will begin to hibernate as the days grow colder and will need to dig deep enough to protect themselves for the winter. Mud turtles will need an area of mud to burrow in year-round. Both like water, but only need access to enough to hang out in for a while.

Any turtle has the tendency to snap and bite, so note that heading in. If turtles are handled from the time they are very young they will be more tame adults. Terrestrial turtles are a little easier to handle regularly but aquatic turtles can be as well. Knowing a few simple turtle facts will make choosing a turtle species easier for you and your family.