Showing posts with label Turtles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Turtles. Show all posts



English: A female North American three-toed bo...
 A female North American three-toed box turtle (Terrapene Carolina triunguis)
(Photo: Wikipedia)
There are 2 species, with 6 subspecies, of North American Box Turtle. They are the: Florida Box Turtle, Eastern Box Turtle, Gulf Coast Box Turtle, Three-toed Box Turtle, Desert Box Turtle, and Ornate Box Turtle.

Box turtles tend to fall somewhere between the truly aquatic turtles and the terrestrial tortoises with their need for access to bodies of water in which to soak and their need for wooded and grassland areas with moist humid soil. Box turtle forage for food on land and spend the time they sleep dug into the earth in burrows, under logs, or wedged under rocks.

Box turtles need a good size enclosure in order to provide for the proper range of heating and humidity. The smallest size indoor enclosure for one box turtle to be kept in is 3 x 3 x 2 feet. For two turtles, the minimum size should be at least 4 x 4 x 2 feet. Aquariums are not appropriate housing for an adult box turtle. Babies may be kept in aquariums, but as they grow larger enclosures are needed. Create a land area using 2 to 3 inches of good quality plain sterile potting soil slightly moistened. Do not use backyard dirt soil from a garden. Mix the soil with cypress mulch. Do not use coarse substrates such are gravel or sand, as these tend to scratch the shell and open the way for bacterial infections. Box turtles require a hide box in which to get away from it all and feel secure. A good size box in one corner of the enclosure, filled with alfalfa hay in which to burrow. is essential. The hide box can be anything from a cardboard box to a plastic container with a door cut into it. A water area must be provided that is deep enough that the water comes to just about the nose of the turtle. It doesn't need to be swimming, just soaking. If using a kitty litter pan, it is best to sink this into the substrate and provide a ramp to get in and get out for the turtle. The water area must be kept clean at all times. Box turtles not only use the water to soak in but also relieve themselves in.

Full spectrum lighting is required for indoor enclosures. Full spectrum light mimics the beneficial effects of natural sunlight, enabling the turtle to metabolize vitamin D3. The full spectrum lighting is an essential part of the calcium metabolization process. Without the specific wavelengths and proper diet, calcium deficiencies will result which may ultimately prove fatal. Box Turtles need 12 to 14 hours of light each day. NOTE: UV waves cannot pass through glass, and 40% of the available waves are lost when the light passes through an aluminum screen, try to have the light shining directly on them.

Day Time temps: 85 to 88 degrees
Night Time temps 70 to 75 degrees.
Most box turtles require a relative humidity of 60 to 80% in at least one area of their enclosure. A turtle that is not provided with the correct humidity often suffers from infected and swollen eyes and ear infections. Providing humidity is simple, in one corner of the enclosure provide some peat moss and wet it down with water until it is fairly moist. A hiding area, such as a cardboard box or large plastic container with ventilation holes should be placed over the wet peat moss. Be sure to check the moss constantly to ensure it is moist and has not dried out.

It is best to offer food after the turtle has had a few hours to warm up in the morning. Young turtle requires feeding on a daily basis, while an adult can be fed every other day. Make sure you vary their diet with both plant and animal matter. Vitamin supplements should be added twice a week.

Plants: A variety of vegetables, greens, and fruits are a must. Such as a "salad" of carrots, squash green beans, strawberries, cranberries, blackberries, cherries, and plums. Some cantaloupe (with the rind), mustard greens, dandelions, and collard greens can also be mixed in. For treats, you can add flowers like hibiscus, rose petals, and geraniums.

Meat: High quality low-fat canned dog food, finely chopped cooked chicken or raw beef heart. Live food can also be offered, like mealworms and crickets.

Young turtles require more animal matter in their diet due to their need for protein. As they grow into adults this should be reduced over time to no more than 10% of their total diet.

It is a good idea to allow your box turtle to hibernate, especially if you keep it in an outdoor enclosure during the summer months.This is to allow the box turtles internal clock to remain normal. If you choose not to hibernate the turtle, you must keep it warm and provide plenty of UV lighting along with their normal dietary needs.

To prepare a box turtle for hibernation, do not feed the animal for two weeks, but keep the heat on to allow the animal to fully digest any food remaining in its stomach and intestinal tract. Soak the box turtle in a shallow container of lukewarm water a few times during this period for about 10 minutes, this will help to hydrate the animal and to remove any food left in their system. Box turtle hibernated with food still present in their intestinal tract can die from massive infections as the food rots inside them.

Hibernating box turtles indoor requires a hibernation box. A cardboard box half filled with moist sterile potting soil or peat moss with holes punched in the sides for aeration is an appropriate hibernation box. After all the food has been cleared from the turtle's system, introduce the turtle to the hibernation box. If the box turtle buries down into the substrate and remains still, it is ready for hibernation. If the animal is moving restlessly around after 20 minutes in the box, return it to its enclosure, wait a few days and try again. If the box turtle is ready, move it to an unheated room, such as a garage, where the temperature will remain between 40 to 55 degrees. Check the box turtle weekly to make sure it has not surfaced prematurely. Box turtles usually come out of hibernation after experiencing temperature above 65 degrees for a few days. After the turtle comes out of hibernation, return it to its regular enclosure, provide water, warm it up for a couple of days, and then offer some food. Pay close attention to the turtle during the time after hibernation to observe for any health problems that may occur.


Red-eared SLIDER - Trachemys scripta elegans

Red-eared Slider - Trachemys scripta elegans - Photo: Wikipedia


Freshwater TURTLES

Og, the Freshwater Cow
Photo  by delta407 
Hi! Good Morning! I am Deirochelys reticularia, nickname - Chicken turtle, because of my long, striped, neck. I am a freshwater turtle and belong to a reputed family Emydidae. I inhabit the calm and quiet weedy freshwater ponds, swamps or marshes.

Look at the fine grooves and yellow network on the surface of my brown carapace (4 to 10 inches long). Whenever I get bored, I come out and enjoy moving on the land. I relish both non-vegetarian and vegetarian foods. Remember, never ever try to irritate me, else I will bite!

Let me introduce other family members:
Mr. Clemmys marmorata, (Pacific/Western Pond turtle)
Miss Emys orbicularis (European pond turtle/Swamp turtle)
Mr. Emydoidea blandingii (Blanding's turtle).
Mrs. Graptemys geographica (Common Map turtle)
Baby Graptemys pseudogeographica (False Map turtle)
Master Clemmys guttata (Spotted turtle)
Miss Pseudemys concinna (River Cooter)
Ma'm Trachemys scripta elegans (Red-eared Slider) look at the significant red stripe behind the eyes.
Mr.Chrysemys picta picta (Eastern Painted Turtle)
Mrs. Pseudemys rubriventris (Eastern Red-bellied Turtle)
Mr. Calemys insculpta (Wood Turtle)
They are basically carnivorous but sometimes nibble on plants and seeds for a change of palate. They all inhabit shallow lakes, weedy marshes, ponds etc.

Let's go over there; Kinosternidae family is having a great picnic on tadpoles, snails, worms, and crayfish-

There are -Mr. Kinosternon subrubrum (Mud turtle and Eastern Mud Turtle) and Mrs. Kinosternon flavescents (Yellow Mud turtle) with yellow throat, smooth brown carapace and a big double hinged dull colored plastron.

Meet young and energetic Musk turtle, Common Musk Turtle and Loggerhead Musk Turtle. Though close kins, they are different species under the genus Sternotherus. They have a short tail, grey, brown or dull colored oval-shaped shell, a single hinged plastron and white stripes on the two sides of the head.

But don't dare to disturb them, else they may emit a strong foul smell from the glands which can knock you out (...just between you and me, we call them "stinkpot" because of the odor...yuck)! They don't grow beyond 6 inches and have characteristic fleshy barbels on the chin.

There, basking on the sandbars, are the ace swimmers - Miss Apalone ferox and Apalone spinifera (Spiny- and Florida soft-shell turtles) of the Family Trionychidae. They are big (5-24 inches), carnivoresand have leathery shells.

Wow! There is Mr.Chelydra serpentina (Snapping Turtle) of Chelydridae family; largest of our kind (8-20 inches) with strong snapping jaws. How majestic!

Aren't we fascinating? Then why do you gobble us? Why eh...?


TERRAPIN TURTLES - A Step by Step Instructional Guide

Owning terrapin turtles as pets can be a very rewarding hobby, but the average owners know next to nothing about them or how to look after them.

English: A hatchling Ornate Terrapin (Terrapen...
A hatchling Ornate Terrapin (Terrapene ornata ornata)
at the South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. 

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They are an excellent choice for a pet because they are generally low maintenance, relaxing creatures, and are ideal for families with young children, because they can be kept in a set area of your home, but be aware they do have a long life span and will require a life long commitment by the potential owner.

If the terrapin turtle is for a child you must take into consideration that they require a consistent maintenance regime and any child must be willing and able to commit to this responsibility.
They take less care than the usual pets such as cats and dogs, but they do have very specific requirements that you must be aware of before you buy to ensure your pet stays healthy and happy.

What is the difference between Terrapins and Turtles?
In the United Kingdom and some of its territories, they are known as terrapins which is given to any kind of small turtle like creature that can be kept as a pet, where a turtle is generally the larger species that lives in the sea and cannot be kept as a pet.

In all other countries, they are known generally as Terrapin Turtles or Turtles.

Different Variations of Terrapin Turtles
There are four kinds of terrapin turtles: Terrapins, Turtles, Tortoises and Sea Turtles.
Because terrapin turtles can move and live on both land and water, many people are unsure whether they are reptiles or amphibians.

They are actually from the reptile family and belong to a group of reptiles known as the ''.

The ones that only live in water are known as aquatic and consist of sea turtles and fresh water terrapins. Sea turtles live in the world's oceans and can grow in excess of 6 feet and cannot be kept as pets.

Then you have the semi-aquatic terrapin turtles that live on both land and water.

The terrapin turtles that live only on land are called terrestrial and are known as box turtles in the US and tortoises everywhere else. It is important to remember that box turtles or tortoises cannot swim and will drown if put in deep water.

Other differences in terrapin turtles are in their shell structure, size, and their limbs. Sea turtles are the largest of this species and have the hardest shells in the reptile world. Fresh water terrapins, on the other hand, are much smaller and have softer shells.

How Big will they get when fully grown?
Before you decide what terrapin turtle to get you must also find out how big it will get when fully grown. They can be as small as 6 inches or as large as two feet!

They need different types of habitat!
Creating the right environment for terrapin turtles really depends on a number of factors which need to be researched well.

Find out how big the breed will get when fully grown, remember they all start out small. You really don't want the expense of buying a new habitat when they grow.

How many will you keep together? The more you have the larger the habitat will have to be.
You then need to decide if you will keep them indoors or outdoors and obtain the correct container to a suite. This can vary from pond liners for outdoors to glass or plastic containers when kept indoors.

Whether kept indoors or outdoors the habitat that terrapin turtles live in has to be both wet and dry.
A very important factor that you must be aware of is that the temperature must be conducive for that species to ensure its well-being.


The Slow and Steady Reptile: the TURTLE

Of all the reptiles that can be found in an average neighborhood, turtles are probably the easiest to catch.  Let's take a tour of a turtle and see what we can learn from it.   One of the most interesting parts of the turtle is the most obvious, its shell.  The back of a turtle shell is formed from bones that have fused together into a hard structure.  On top of the bone layer are large scales that cover and protect the surface of the bone, and give the turtle its distinctive color. 

English: A female North American three-toed bo...
A female North American three-toed box turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis)
(Photo credit: 

Some sea turtles have shells with bones that are separated, and the leatherback turtle has no scales at all, just leathery skin with little bony plates distributed in its skin.   The shells of land turtles are typically quite high and round, in order to discourage predators from attempting to crush the shells in their mouths.

Water turtles generally have much flatter shells, in order to allow for faster swimming. The bottom of the shell, called the plastron, is also fused bone, but it is covered with a different kind of scale, in order for the turtle to move easily over its territory.  A few turtles, such as the American box turtle, have hinges on the bottom of its shell.  The box shell turtle can withdraw into the shell and then close the hinges, so that no predator can reach any of the turtle within.   These hinges also protect against moisture loss on particularly dry days.

Like many other reptiles, turtles lay their eggs on land.  Baby turtles generally grow rapidly until they reach young adulthood, and then the rate of growth slows.  Large turtles often keep growing at a slow rate for their entire life.  The shells of most turtles grow to at least five inches in diameter, and the monster of the turtle family is the Leatherback, which can have a shell six feet long and weigh up to fifteen hundred pounds.   One of the larger common American turtles is the Alligator snapping turtle, which can have a shell of over two feet in length and weigh up to two hundred pounds.  It is easier to tell the age of turtles than most other reptiles because the plates on their back often have growth rings, similar to trees.  Each time a turtle stops growing it creates a depression in each scale, and so these can be counted to determine the age of the turtle.

A number of turtles have lived for more than one hundred years, and turtles might be the longest-lived vertebrates, up to two hundred years old.  Some American families carved their names and dates into box turtle shells, and these markers indicate that even local turtles can live to be more than one hundred years old.

Next time you see a turtle, check it out carefully.  Watch how slowly it walks (generally at about one third of a mile an hour), and look carefully at the markings on its shell.  Turn it over to see the underside of the shell, and how the two connect.  See if you can see any markings on the shell to count how old it is.  Check out other interesting facts and behaviors about the turtles in your area at your local library or bookstore.


Proper Housing Arrangements for Red-Footed Tortoises

The Red-Footed Tortoise is not a large turtle. It is not small either, being in the middle of the size range for turtles. This said, the Red-Footed Tortoise needs a very large area to live in a healthy manner. A minimum size for a habitat for these creatures should be roughly 2.5 metres by 2.5 metres. The best place to house these turtles is outside. There are several things that need attention though. The humidity should always be between 60% and 85%, and the temperature should never be below 50 degrees F. If any or all of these conditions can not be met, you must house them inside, and simulate the conditions. 

Red-footed Tortoise; Palmitos Park, Maspalomas...
Red-footed Tortoise  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When keeping them outdoors, make sure you offer them plenty of protection from the sun. They will also want plenty of tall grass, plant life and a shallow but heavy dish of water. Red-Footed Tortoises are land based turtles, and do not need deep water.

When keeping the tortoises indoors, there is a set of guidelines you must follow. You can use whatever material you see fit, but wood is the most common. Make sure the floor of the enclosure is waterproof, in case any water is knocked over. A wooden floor may cause problems, as the water will seep into the wood, and over time could cause mould problems. If on concrete, never leave the floor bare. This has been noted as a cause of health problems in turtles, the most common being penis prolapse. 

This said, the bottom, whatever material it is, needs to be covered with a more natural substrate. Mulch type substrate works well. Peat moss, sphagnum moss and play sand are recommended. A mixture of peat moss and sand is the best substrate. Make sure the sides of the enclosure are tall enough to prevent the turtles from getting out. Like most reptiles, Red-Footed Tortoises require hiding places. They will also need an area that has increased humidity. A large container, on its side, with dampened substrate works well. When needed, the tortoise will crawl inside to get to the humid area. 

You must also provide your tortoises with a heat gradient. This can be achieved by placing a basking lamp on one end of the enclosure. The cool side should be kept around 73 degrees F, and the hot end should be kept around 87 degrees F. If you have multiple tortoises you will need  to provide multiple basking spots. Drop the temperature at night to be 57 degrees F to 60 degrees F, and like outdoors, never let this temperature drop to or below 50 degrees F.

Aside from the heating lights, full-spectrum fluorescent lighting is necessary for proper synthesis of vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is needed to properly use calcium in the tortoise’s body. You should always bring your turtles outside on warm days, as the natural sunlight provides the best vitamins you can get from light.


Common TURTLE Species

Turtles are cold-blooded reptiles. They have a shell making them unique from other reptiles. Their upper shell is called the carapace, and a lower shell that protects the belly called the plastron. The carapace and plastron shape and color varies from species to species. One might think it would at least always be a hard shell, which also is untrue. There are softshell turtle species, along with many others.

Diamondback terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin, han...
Diamondback terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin, hand-colored lithograph (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some turtle species include Clemmys insculpta which is the wood turtle; Geochelone sulcata which is the African Spurred tortoise; Chelonia mydas which is the green turtle; Emydoidea blandingii which is the Blanding’s turtle; Clemmys guttata which is the spotted turtle; Malaclemys terrapin which is the diamondback terrapin; and Trachemys s. elegans which is the red-eared slider.

The species name for the wood turtle is Clemmys insculpta. This turtle is the largest in its genus. The carapace has raised projections on the back that resemble a small pyramid, making it different from others in the Clemmys genus.

The wood turtle is omnivorous and eats things like algae, moss, blueberries, mollusks, insects, earthworms, and mice. Typically adult males are larger than adult females, but not by a whole lot.
The species name for the African Spurred tortoise is Geochelone sulcata. The African Spurred Tortoise is the only tortoise in the world that has adapted fully for terrestrial life. The turtle is famous for digging burrows to protect itself from predators and the temperature. This turtle can go weeks without food or water. When the turtle does get a chance to drink water though, it can drink up to 15% of its body weight.

The species name for the green turtle is Chelonia mydas. Adult green turtles have a different diet than juvenile green turtles. Adults are herbivores eating plants and juveniles are carnivores eating meat. Adults usually spend their time in patches of sea grass and algae to get their food, while juveniles spend their time among the coral reef. Adults preferred food is young leaves and roots of sea vegetation. Juveniles eat animals such as jellyfish, sponges, snails, bivalves, and others.
This turtle is a medium to large sea turtle that has a broad, low, heart-shaped carapace.

Most of their lives are spent in the water but females return to the land to lay their eggs. The eggs take about two months to incubate, and then hatch. As most turtles are, green turtles possess environmental sex determination. Temperature of the nest determines the sex of the hatchling. Warmer temperatures produce females, and cooler temperatures produce males.

Green turtles are found throughout the oceans of the world. Populations are endangered or threatened everywhere.

The Blanding’s turtle is a northern turtle that has a black carapace with tan to yellow spots on the scutes. Its species name is Emydoidea blandingii. Sometimes this turtle is confused with the box turtle because of similar appearances.

This turtle lives in clean, shallow water habitats. They like abundant aquatic vegetation, and firm aquatic bottoms in ponds, lakes, marshes, and creeks. However, preferences in habitat can change seasonally and by location. In Wisconsin, the Blanding’s turtle prefers marshes over ponds, which is just a location preference. Turtles elsewhere may choose a pond over a marsh.

This turtle nests once a year usually from late-May to early July during the night. However, not every female nests every year.

The common name for Clemmys guttata is the spotted turtle. This is a small, black turtle that has a pattern on its smooth carapace with small yellow spots. Over time the spots may fade, making older turtles appear spotless.

Male spotted turtles tend to have tan chins with brown eyes differing from the females who tend to have yellow chins and orange eyes.

These turtles live in areas that are shallow wetlands. This can consist of swamps, bogs, fens, and marshes, but not confined to just these areas.

Spotted turtles are active during they day for the most part, meaning they are diurnal. However, females are active at night while they are nesting. Spotted turtles are preyed upon by bald eagles, skunks, and raccoons.

The species name for the Diamondback Terrapin is Malaclemys terrapin. This turtle is a small to medium size turtle which feeds on sponges, bryozoans, gastropods, crabs, carrion, and plant material.

They have a hingeless plastron which can be yellow to green or black, and an oblong carapace is gray, light brown or black. They can be found in estuaries and salt marshes.

Nesting for these turtles is different from a majority of turtles because it is during the day. Most turtles tend to nest during the night. High tide is the most usual time for this particular turtle to nest.
The red-eared slider is native to the United States. It is commonly found in the Southern regions. The species name for it is Trachemys s. elegans.

When the red-eared slider is young it is carnivorous, but as it ages they become more vegetarian. They are a medium size and have a dark green oval shell. Their legs are green with think yellow stripes. The head is also green, but it has a red stripe behind the eye.

These turtles are found in most permanent slow-moving bodies of water. They prefer areas with mud bottoms.

Author: Danielle Rose


Constructing the Perfect TURTLE or TERRAPIN Tank

If  you have decided to bring home a pet turtle or terrapin, you should know what  is necessary to house them comfortably. Depending on the kind of pet turtle or  terrapin that you choose, each has its own needs and requirements for living a  healthy and happy life in your home. Generally there are a few needs that most  turtles have in common as far as their habitat is concerned.

English: A hatchling Ornate Terrapin (Terrapen...
A hatchling Ornate Terrapin (Terrapene ornata ornata) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The  first thing to keep in mind is being able to provide them with a comfortable  environment that consists of a wet habitat and a dry habitat. This can be done by  constructing a turtle tank with both a wet area and a dry area in it. There are  certain things that you should provide no matter what type or gender of turtle  or terrapin you have.

The  wet aquarium should consist of water that is at the right temperature for them.  It need to constant filtration and regular cleaning. It should also include the  right levels of other materials such as rocks, plants and comfortable places  for your turtle to bask on.

Your aquarium should maintain a constant  temperature between environments to help your pet turtle or terrapin adapt to  the change between wet and dry more easily. You should also make sure you place  a constant supply of fresh water in a shallow container in the dry environment  for them.

Their  feedings should be done in water as they cannot swallow otherwise and you will  need to keep both environments clean on a regular basis.

Some pet owners make  the mistake of thinking that their pet turtles and pet terrapins do not require  a lot of care and cleaning, but in point of fact turtles would keep themselves  very clean in their natural environment. So you need to make sure there are  kept safe from any possibility of bacteria or soft-shell disease.

The  water should not be too deep and the basking ground should be made of small  pebbles and flat stones so that it is more comfortable for the turtle.

The  basking ground should either be in a very sunny spot, with natural, unfiltered  sunlight or be lit by an ultraviolet (or UV) lamp. Reptile UV lamps are  available at most pet stores and you should certainly invest in one for the  health and well-being of your pet turtle.


A RED EARED SLIDER Will Make An Excellent Pet

There are various freshwater turtle species in the world, but probably none are as well renowned as the red eared sliders. Sliders make an adorable pet, seeking plenty of attention. There are some serious cleanliness measures that should be taken into consideration while nurturing a red eared slider. These measures are as follows:

English: A closer look at the head of red-eare...
A closer look at the head of red-eared slider. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
How to distinguish a male and a female red eared slider?

The differences between the male and female red eared slider are fairly distinct, however, they do not become too obvious until the slider reaches sexual maturity. Male red eared sliders reaches sexual maturity in 2 to 5 years, conversely, female red eared sliders reach their sexual maturity in 5 to 7 years. Male sliders can be distinguished from their claws on front feet, which are not present in the females. Furthermore, another trait differentiating male and female slider is their tail. The tail of male slider is longer and thicker. The cloaca in males is located farther from their body with males having somewhat concave plastron.

Tank water and your red eared slider

Red eared sliders spend plenty of time in water, therefore, it is highly recommended that the water they live in is clean. Keeping water clean may sound an ordinary task, however, the reality is slightly different. It is obvious that sliders also defecate in their water. Due to defecation, the tank becomes smelly and cloudy making the cleanliness measures challenging.

In a nut shell, water quality maintenance measures include removing wastes along with instituting colonies of healthy bacteria that will collapse waste products. Ways in which you can do this are as follows:

Measure the quality of water

It is essential to check the levels of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates in the water. Excess of any of these can be irritating and harmful for the turtles. You must purchase test kits for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates from the pet stores. The directions to use them are printed at the back of the kit. High levels of the three requires a complete water change, however, moderate level requires frequent partial water change.

Chlorinated or Dechlorinated Water?

This is subject to conflicting opinions. However, it is suggested to dechlorinate water by using water conditioners. Chlorine can be irritating to your pet, especially to their eyes. If you live in a city where chloramines are used to treat the drinking water, then you must buy a water conditioner that is labeled to remove chlorine, chloramines and ammonia (a by-product of the deactivation of chloramines).

What option of filtration you prefer?  

The ideal filter for red eared sliders is the one rated for 2-3 times the size of the sliders tank. There are many filtration levels available in the market such as, biological filtration, chemical filtration and mechanical filtration.

    Red Eared Slider Secrets’ by Chris Johnson is book that includes everything about red eared turtles. If you are looking forward to provide your new friend a comfortable and loving home then you should have this handy book with you.