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Western Pond Turtle Care
Origin: Western United States (lakes, ponds and wetlands)
There are two subtypes:
Northern Pond Turtle (Clemmys marmorata marmorata) and
Southern Pond Turtle (Clemmys marmorata pallida)
Adult Size: usually up to 8 inches (shell length)
Lifespan: unknown, most likely 30+ years like other pond turtles
Temperament: Not territorial and aggressive like other turtles. You can keep several of these turtles together as they have plenty of room for swimming.
Requirements: This is a water type, so most of the camp needs water. Your turtle should have a place to get out of the water and rest, such as a good rock or pile of rocks, or a turtle dock at your local pet store. Use sand or gravel to cover the bottom of the tank and decorate underwater with aquatic plants or driftwood to keep your turtle safe.
The recommended minimum tank size for one of these turtles is 20 gallons. The bigger the better. Other containers can be used, such as large Rubbermaid containers, as long as the container can safely hold 20 gallons or more of water. Fill the tank at least halfway. A water softener may or may not be necessary if you are using very hard water (such as College J tap water), especially if you are using a water softener designed for turtles.
Light/Temperature: This is a sun type, meaning it is done during the day when the sun is out. The UV in natural sunlight is used by the turtle’s body to make Vitamin D3 from the Calcium in its diet. Pet stores have fluorescent bulbs designed for insects to keep your turtle healthy. Although it is often a waste of money to make “people” happy, this light is very important, and if you do not provide it (with enough calcium), it can seriously affect the health and well-being of your turtle.
A flashlight is also needed. Place the lamp above the rocks or the ground in your tank to create a warm area. Use the right electric heat bulb and set the lamp to create a warm temperature around 90-95 degrees F. There are many thermometers in the house, but just remember that different types wood and wire type thermometers. although it’s still good to have, it only measures the ambient temperature (the temperature of the air) and won’t give you an accurate reading of the cleaning area. For temperature measurement, you should get a digital probe thermometer (available at most hardware and garden stores, not as expensive as you might think!). The digital probe measures the surface temperature, the temperature that warms fossilized rock and provides stomach heat for digestion.
An aquarium heater is a good idea. These guys do best in warm water and should be kept in warm water in the 80s F. Room temperature is the way to go, as the tank does not need to be filled to the top. These turtles are notorious for breaking their heaters, so we recommend that you look for a Titanium, “breakproof” glass heater to avoid any problems.
Filtering and Care: Water turtles are very messy, so a reliable filter is important. There are many different filters out there, although none are better than the others. It’s up to you, whether you want to go with a submersible filter like a Fluval, under sand, electric head, or Hydrosponge, or you want a different type of outside such as a hanging or side-mounted waterfall. No matter what type of filter you choose, just remember to PLENTY, and clean it regularly!
Regular car maintenance with water turtles. Water gets dirty quickly, and dirty water all the time can have a negative effect on turtle health. How often to change the water or clean the filter depends on the number of turtles in relation to the size of the tank, and the size of the filter and the size or number of your feed. Cleaning the tank is no different than cleaning a fish tank. A good aquarium siphon is a great help and the easiest way to remove all the waste and debris from the bottom of the tank. Rinse as much water as you need to keep the tank clean. Turtles don’t react to the effects of the nitrogen cycle like fish, so you don’t have to worry about cycling or being careful with the filter, this gives you a chance to clean the tank. Just remember never to use soap! There are spray cleaners in your local pet store that are safe to use around insects, and if you’re really worried about tank dirt a little milk will do. Be careful not to rinse thoroughly and do not put your turtle back in the tank until the smell of the milk is gone.
Diet: Like most pond turtles, these individuals are omnivores. They usually eat meat and vegetables. Variety is the key to a healthy diet. There are many turtle foods on the market. Some are better than others, depending on the amount of certain nutrients such as protein and phosphorus. Sticking to a higher quality brand is your best bet, as proper nutrition is important to insects.
Crickets, red worms and maggots are among the most popular live foods available in pet stores. Top these with powdered supplements (magnesium and vitamins) just before feeding, or “freeze” them 24 hours before giving them to your turtle. Other good live baits, mostly available online, are silkworms and phoenix worms. Worms and maggots should be avoided because of their high fat content, lack of nutrients and their hard-to-digest shell. Remember not to feed your turtle any insects you find outside. Some are poisonous (lightning bugs are deadly!) and wild insects carry parasites (expensive doctor bills you should avoid!). To add more calcium to the diet, it is also recommended to dissolve a piece of cuttlebone in water (found in the bird section of pet stores). Sometimes the turtle bites the bone, and when it dissolves in the water it is beneficial, not only for the turtle’s diet but also for the health of its skin and shell.
Live fish can be given as a snack. The food is not very good for your turtle, it can cause stunted growth and make it very fat. Think of it as going to McDonalds for food. One meal there may not affect your health, but don’t make it a habit! Fortunately, there are healthier, litter-free ways to keep your turtle healthy. Most grocery stores carry a variety of fresh seafood, which is not expensive when purchased in small quantities. Squid, squid (files and trucks), tilapia, catfish and shark steak are the turtle’s favorite foods. Stick to “clean meat” types of fish because they won’t leave your water dirty, and feed as many different types of fish as you can. You can also find many freeze-dried or frozen foods at your local pet store that your turtle will love to eat. These are not as nutritious as fresh raw seafood, but they make a great snack and help add a variety of nutrients.
Dropping healthy leaves (such as collard greens, turnips, mustard greens, or dandelion greens) floating on top of the water will provide your turtle with entertainment and a healthy snack. They also like endive, escarole, cucumbers, yellow squash, cucumbers, carrots, apples, bananas, and more. Avoid lettuce and celery and don’t eat too much fruit. Eating these can cause stomach upset and dehydration. Kale, broccoli and spinach should also be avoided as they are rich in nutrients. You can probably find more information about food online if you look in the right places. We recommend you start with Melissa Kaplan’s website, www.anapsid.org. Just remember not to leave uneaten vegetables, fruits, or insects in the water for too long. Bad food can contaminate the water and kill your turtle.
Health: Turtles have the same health problems as any other reptile. Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), calcium and vitamin deficiencies or toxins, liver and kidney disease, constipation (bowel obstruction), dehydration, fungal and bacterial infections, stress , respiratory disease, parasites, etc. Most of these diseases can be treated by changing something about your care routine or with the help of a qualified veterinarian, but it is easy to avoid because there is a lot to do to food/food, warmth and light. This is why it is important to prepare correctly from the beginning. A turtle that is well cared for and lives in an environment that deserves a long and healthy life with minimal problems. Another health issue for turtles is their shell. In addition to normal shedding, the shell can sometimes be very slippery, greasy, or lumpy. This means it is waterproof and/or has very little UV protection, and there are products available from your pet store to help keep the shell healthy.
Important information about MBD and other similar problems: if your turtle seems to be growing and moving at different rates, or if your turtle’s legs are misshapen, or if its face looks different, it may take longer. maybe your UV light is about to change, the turtle may not be getting enough calcium in its diet. This is a serious health issue and should seek immediate veterinary attention.
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