Yellow-bellied or Red-eared Tortoise (Тсхеmys sсррта) – a species belonging to the family of freshwater American turtles. This freshwater reptile is justifiably one of the most common and very popular species among lovers of such exotic pets as turtles.
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Characteristics of the Red-eared Turtle
The unusual name of the red-eared turtle is very eloquent, and is due to the presence of such a freshwater reptile with characteristic red stripes on two sides of the head, near the eyes. It was the bright stripes that made the appearance of this turtle very original and easily recognizable.
It is interesting! In the presence of favorable living conditions, red-eared turtles live for about a quarter of a century, but the life of some individuals can be half a century.
The youngest individuals have a shell with a bright green tint, but as they grow older, it acquires tea or brown color. Age-old reptiles have on their shell original ornate patterns. The sizes of adult individuals directly depend on sex and vary between 18-30 cm. Moreover, female red-eared turtles are always noticeably larger than males of this species.
Buying a Red-eared Turtle – Tips
Experts recommend purchasing a reptile in early spring, which will allow the baby to adapt as quickly as possible to the new conditions during the summer. The seasonal feature of reptiles purchased in the fall is the slow adaptation and slowdown of growth processes, as well as the risk of rickets, vitamin deficiency or pneumonia.
When buying a red-eared turtle, you should pay attention to the condition of the carapace of the reptile. It must be undeformed and not soft, of the correct form, without scratches and any other damage. There should be no cracks or spots on the skin of the reptile. Patients, as well as animals suffering from dehydration, have sunken eyes surrounded by a small “notch”. The eyes of a red-eared tortoise should not have discharge and swelling. The turtle’s mouth should not have a whitish coating, abrasions or wounds.
It is interesting! A strange-looking formation located on the plastron is most often the residual part of the yolk sac – the food source for the little turtle. Such a formation resolves on its own, after which the reptile begins to actively eat.
It is important to be able to independently determine the sex of the red-eared turtle, and also remember that very small turtles, regardless of gender, look exactly the same. Only as they grow older are the differences between females and males obvious. The latter become sexually mature more quickly, having a shell of about 10-12 cm in size by this age, but the females of this species are noticeably larger. Among other things, males have longer claws that are located on the front pair of legs, as well as concave plastrons and a longer, thick tail. The male cesspool is located closer to the middle part of the tail.
Aquarium device filling
There are several basic requirements for aqua terrarium for the Red-eared Turtle. At home, such an exotic reptile needs to be provided with sufficient water.. The turtle belongs to the category of freshwater animals, so aquarium water must necessarily correspond to this feature of the pet. The standard volume of the aqua terrarium is approximately 200-220 liters. Water must be warm (22-28 ° C) and clean.
You also need to purchase a water heater, a special ultraviolet lamp, a thermometer and a red lamp for heating, outdoor filters and a lighting system. In the tortoise’s dwelling, an island of sushi should be equipped, smoothly leaving for the water. The island should occupy at least a quarter of the total area of the aqua terrarium. The land should not be represented by soil in the form of gravel or earth.
A quality, properly selected dwelling for a freshwater, red-eared tortoise should be characterized by the absence of toxic components, maximum stability, and the absence of sharp corners or burrs.
The correct turtle diet
In captivity, the red-eared turtle should be fed low-fat, preferably river fish, and once every two weeks a fresh-water reptile is given raw beef liver. The diet of an exotic pet must be supplemented with snails, as well as crickets, feed cockroaches, earthworms and small aquarium fish. The plant part of the diet can be represented by various aquarium plants, leaf lettuce, dandelion leaves and plantain.
It is interesting! When placing food in the aqua terrarium, you need to remember that red-eared turtles do not chew food until they completely immerse their heads under water, due to the lack of saliva.
Calcium should be present in the aquarium water in the form of Vitakrift Seria mineral stone. Many owners of red-eared turtles feed their pets with special ready-made diets: Tetra RertoMin, Cera and JВL. Of vegetable crops, preference should be given to carrots, which in crushed form is given to a freshwater reptile no more than once a month. Turtles under one year of age should be fed daily, and older adults should be fed once every two or three days.
Caring for the Red-eared Turtle
Friendly and fairly unpretentious red-eared turtles require simple, but specific care. Pure water is the key to the active growth of young animals and maintaining the health of adult animals. To fill the aqua terrarium, you should use water that has settled for five days. By installing a powerful filter system, the frequency of water changes can be reduced. To maintain optimal temperature indicators, you can use a traditional incandescent lamp, the light from which should be sent directly to the land island. In this case, aquarium water will not require too active additional heating.
Important! The opinion that the red-eared turtles living in cramped areas does not grow and retain attractive small sizes is erroneous. Under such conditions, a reptile can die very quickly.
After some time, the adapted animal learns to eat all of its food exclusively on land, which makes the feeding process very convenient, and also prevents the risk of water pollution too quickly. It is desirable that the island for resting and feeding the reptile has a textured surface. Experts consider it inappropriate to keep turtles inside one aqua terrarium that have noticeable differences in size.
It should be noted that the slowness and slowness of the red-eared turtle is often very deceiving, therefore, sometimes such home exotics are able to show tangible activity not only in water, but also on the land island. It is for this reason that it is very important to choose the right reptile home. The minimum wall height should be approximately 35-45 cm. Too low walls of the aqua terrarium can cause the turtle to jump out and die quickly from severe injury, dehydration or starvation.
Health, Disease, and Prevention
Almost 90% of all diseases of the Red-eared Turtle arise as a result of improper maintenance or non-compliance with the care requirements. The presence of dirty water in the aquarium quickly causes a sharp deterioration in the state of health of the turtle.
A sick aquatic animal must be kept at a temperature regime increased by about 2-3 ° C, which helps to improve the immune system. It is also necessary to monitor the drinking regime of the turtle, as dehydration can cause the death of freshwater amid the rapid development of renal failure.
The animal’s ill health is evidenced by the characteristics of the movements of the swimming red-eared turtle. A sick pet most often moves in the “on its side” position or simply sinks to the bottom. If the infectious nature of the disease is suspected, all animal care items should be thoroughly treated with an antiseptic that is safe for the pet. As a rule, the first symptoms of a bacterial infection are represented by the appearance of edema and necrotic changes. In this case, an antibiotic treatment regimen is prescribed, and a complete replacement of water in the aquarium is also carried out.
When injured, a red-eared turtle, under the influence of an infection that has penetrated the body, develops a blood poisoning, accompanied by redness of the paws and very pronounced lethargy. Such a pathology belongs to the category of intractable, therefore, it requires urgent and qualified help of specialists. Untimely treatment often causes the death of a pet as a result of a violation of the functions of the internal organs.
Preventive measures are presented:
- daily inspection of the turtle;
- regular cleaning of the aqua terrarium;
- regular water changes in the aqua terrarium;
- proper nutrition;
- prevention of hypothermia;
- regular check of operability of illuminators, as well as heating and filtering devices;
- observing the rules of personal hygiene when caring for a pet;
- systematic cleansing of the tortoise shell from algae;
- mandatory quarantine for sick or newly acquired turtles;
- limiting the contact of a sick tortoise with any other pets and family members;
- control of the movement of the animal outside the aqua terrarium;
- periodic ultraviolet radiation and sunbathing;
- a regular examination by a veterinarian.
If the diet is improperly prepared, a freshwater animal has a calcium deficiency, which manifests itself in the form of curvature or severe softening of the shell. Too much calcium deficiency significantly increases the risk of dying of a red-eared domestic tortoise. In order to quickly normalize the general condition of the reptile, the veterinarian prescribes calcium preparations in injections.
Propagation at home
Under natural conditions, red-eared turtles become fully sexually mature only at six or eight years old.. When kept in captivity, males acquire sexual maturity by four years, and females by five years. In the natural environment, the mating period falls on the time interval from the last decade of February to May. The male red-eared turtle, when meeting with the female, is located directly in front of her head, at a very close distance.
Important! The female swims forward, and the male moves backward, accompanying such movements by tickling the female’s chin with long claws.
In order to lay eggs, the female freshwater reptile leaves its pond and goes to the land. After a suitable place is found, the female abundantly moistens the earth with water from the anal bubbles. Then the reptile begins to actively dig a special hole-nest with the help of its hind legs. The dug nest of red-eared turtles in appearance resembles a ball having a diameter in the range of 7-25 cm.
Five to twenty eggs with an average diameter of up to 40 mm are laid in the nest, which are buried by soil. The tortoise completely lacks the instinct of conservation or care for the offspring that was born, therefore, the reptile leaves the nest after laying. The incubation period lasts approximately 103-150 days, with a temperature regime of 21-30 ° C. When eggs are incubated at temperatures below 27 ° C, males are born, and at temperatures above 30 ° C, only females appear.