Keeping And Caring For Freshwater Turtles In Captivity

Turtles living at home need a balanced diet, including all the substances they need. In nature, an animal can independently find sources of vitamins and minerals for itself, but at home, reptile owners should take care of this.

Turtles need to be fed during the day when they are most active.

It is recommended to give them food after they have warmed up enough, since in turtles, for a long time under conditions of low air temperature, their appetite is usually reduced or absent. If it is not possible to feed the turtle during the day, it is best to give it food in the evening, a few hours before bedtime.

If the animal refuses food for a long time, it must be shown to the veterinarian, since a lack of appetite can be a sign of any disease.

Turtles are animals that can go without food for a very long time, several days or even weeks, but despite this, they should be fed regularly. You can determine if the turtle wants to eat by the following criterion: hungry animals constantly examine the bottom of the aquarium or terrarium, moving restlessly in the water.

Often, the turtle just bought does not eat due to the fact that it cannot get used to the new environment and unfamiliar conditions. In this case, the animal needs to be given rest and for some time not to touch it and not to make noise in the room where it is located. Sometimes the tortoise’s lack of appetite is due to the fact that it cannot get used to the new diet, therefore, when buying a turtle, the owner must find out from the seller what he fed the animal, and at first give the pet his usual food. The tortoise should be accustomed gradually to new food.

If, in addition to the purchased turtle, other pets are kept in the terrarium, it is advisable to put the new animal in a separate aquarium for quarantine and, after observing it for several days, only then place it in a common terrarium.

If it is not possible to feed turtles with algae, you can give them dandelion leaves or lettuce – some water turtles eat them with pleasure.

When keeping several turtles in the terrarium, care must be taken that larger and stronger individuals do not oppress the weaker ones and allow them to approach the feeding trough.

Keeping And Caring For Freshwater Turtles In Captivity

Water turtles are fed mainly animal food. Small young turtles can be given bloodworms, tubule mumps, dried daphnia and gammarus, earthworms, as well as concentrates intended for aquarium fish.

Large adult water turtles, in addition to the above feeds, you can offer raw or boiled chicken and beef. It is occasionally recommended that you feed them raw fish. Before giving the turtles a fish, it should be cooked for 1-2 minutes, since it contains the enzyme thiaminase.

In the diet of water turtles, it is necessary to include insects: mealyworm larvae, cockroaches, various beetles, etc.

With age, water turtles begin to eat not only animal, but also plant foods, mainly algae, so growing algae to decorate an aquarium or terrarium is pointless. To feed turtles, plants can be grown in a separate aquarium. Almost all algae are given to turtles, with the exception of poisonous Elodea and limnophiles.

Keeping And Caring For Freshwater Turtles In Captivity

On the head and limbs of painted turtles, longitudinal stripes of black are clearly visible

If there is a pond near your home, you can collect duckweed from its surface and occasionally give it to turtles, previously rinsing with boiled water.

Both animal and vegetable feeds are fed directly to the turtles in the water. Despite the fact that water turtles eat quickly, pieces of meat or fish left in the water quickly begin to rot and become unfit for food.

Therefore, animals, as a rule, need to be fed exactly as much as they can eat in 15–20 minutes, otherwise you will have to change the water in the aquarium after each feeding.

If possible, then turtles are periodically given live aquarium fish (guppies, swordsmen, goldfish). This will allow water turtles and at home to show their hunting instincts in the best way.

One of the main principles of care for turtles is to keep them clean. These animals get dirty in the soil poured to the bottom of the terrarium or paddock, food debris often sticks to the skin near the mouth, so pets should be bathed regularly, especially during molting.

The basic hygiene procedure for aquatic turtles is the removal of algae that has grown over the shell. It is necessary to clean algae very carefully, being careful not to damage the shell.

The animal should be bathed in warm water with the addition of drinking soda at the rate of 1 teaspoon of soda per 1 liter of water. Water should be poured into a shallow bath so that the turtle’s head remains above the water. The first few minutes, the animal can be nervous and restlessly moving, and then it calms down and freezes for a while. Turtles prefer to defecate in water. After a 15–20-minute bath, the animal is taken out, allowed to dry and a little olive oil is applied to the skin. You need to bathe a turtle only in a room with a temperature not lower than 23 ° C, otherwise it may catch a cold.

In winter, the turtle must be periodically irradiated with a quartz lamp. It should be installed at a distance of about 1 m from the animal and irradiated for several minutes, making sure that the rays of the lamp do not fall into the eyes of the turtle. The duration of exposure should be gradually increased from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. Conduct radiation sessions should be every other day. After a series of sessions, you need to take a break for 10 days, and then continue irradiation. In summer, turtles must be taken out in the sun.

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On warm days, the turtle needs to be carried out into the pen in the open air

Let’s talk a little about live food for turtles. These are crickets, flies, wax moths, earthworms. It should be noted that it is impossible to feed animals with ordinary domestic cockroaches.

Most species of freshwater turtles eat earthworms with pleasure. In the summer, they can be easily digged up, and for the winter, it is usually customary to stock up worms in the right amount, for which trapped worms are placed in boxes on a thick layer of sheet soil. Worm boxes should be kept in a cool place with moderate humidity. Worms can be fed with any food waste.

The most common live food for turtles is the flour larvae of the mealworm. They should be given no more than twice a week: solid chitin causes certain difficulties in digesting food and often causes inflammation of the gastric mucosa in turtles. With regular use of this feed, feed with a high calcium content must be added. Also, a day before feeding, the larvae are kept on multivitamin preparations, in which case they can be given as the only food.

Keeping And Caring For Freshwater Turtles In Captivity

Florida tortoise buries its main clutch deep, leaving the other two eggs on either side to disorient the turtle egg hunters

It is not recommended to constantly feed the turtle with the same food, as this contributes to the occurrence of diseases

They contain the Khrushchak in low tin drawers with good ventilation. The main condition is that the room should be sufficiently dry and warm (at least 27 ° C). In this case, it is possible to maintain and breed flour hrushchak without much difficulty.

A mixture of dried and then crushed birch leaves is used as a substrate. You can feed the Khrushchak with the same food waste, as well as swollen oatmeal.

The best food for turtles are crickets – brownie and steppe. To maintain crickets, you will need a different container with a wall height of at least 30 cm, as well as a 25 W heating lamp. As soil, sifted ground with crushed birch leaves can be used. Crickets are fed with slices of vegetables – carrots, cabbage, and greens. Water must be present. A water tank should be provided; how to do this is shown in the figure.

Device for drinking crickets: a – test tube, b – cotton or foam swab, c – water

A good reptile food is wax moth and flies, but it is very difficult to breed them at home. In the summer, you can arrange traps for these insects, and with the onset of cold weather transfer turtles to other feeds.

Plant foods should be present in the diet of turtles, since they are the main source of vitamins and minerals.

Keeping And Caring For Freshwater Turtles In Captivity

In nature, most adult turtles eagerly eat green parts of plants

Plant foods primarily include vegetables (cabbage, carrots, beets, leafy vegetables), fruits (apples and pears) and berries. Almost all types of berries can be used as food.

Cabbage contains a lot of active vegetable protein, vitamin C and carotene. Carrot is a very valuable source of vitamin A, has a beneficial effect on digestion, and stimulates appetite. Beetroot has similar properties. Leafy vegetables also need to be included in the diet of turtles as a source of vitamins and minerals. In some diseases (for example, with constipation) they are given as a laxative.

In the treatment of hypovitaminosis C and stomatitis, berries are included in the animal menu.

Once a week water turtles can be given dry food. Some owners have adapted to give their pets the usual dry food for cats and dogs, despite the fact that in terms of their composition they are not suitable for turtles. However, if your pet has been eating them for a long time and tolerates them well, there is no reason to refuse them.

Recently, specialized feeds for turtles have appeared on sale, with the addition of vitamin-mineral top dressing in the form of granules. These feeds are a mixture of natural dried feeds in the form of granules or plates. This is a more convenient option if it is not always possible to purchase live food. The most high-quality dry feeds include Repto min, Turtle food flakes, and Nutrafin.

When choosing dry food for aquatic turtles, carefully read the composition, as there are no vitamins in the feed of poor quality. As a rule, most feeds are based on fishmeal, and professional turtle breeders prefer not to buy them at all. Be that as it may, dry food is given no more than three times a week.

Get ready for the fact that your pet will refuse dry food: an animal accustomed to other foods is unlikely to immediately begin to eat new food. But if every day your turtle eats only white cabbage, the use of dry food seems more appropriate.

The diet of most turtles is very diverse: they can eat food of both animal and plant origin. However, young turtles prefer live food. With age, their addictions change, and they switch to plant food. This is due to the fact that young animals require calcium and amino acids for development, which are not found in plant foods, and in adults, there is no urgent need for them. In addition, while hunting, young individuals spend a lot of energy, and these losses need to be replenished.

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Turtles eagerly eat meat cut into small pieces. Previously, it should be boiled for several minutes in boiling water. Meat that has not been cooked is not recommended, as this can cause Salmonella disease. Also, we do not recommend offering turtles fatty food for them – lamb and pork. Turtles give the greatest preference to fish, which should also be pre-cooked a little in hot water.

It is necessary to introduce oil solutions of vitamins E, A and D into the feed. For this, dry feed is pre-saturated with a vitamin solution (give vitamin D once a week and vitamins A and E once every two weeks) and quickly throw it into water. It is better to feed vitamins when the turtle is hungry.

In order for the water in the pond not to spoil from the remnants of food, young turtles are taught to take food from tweezers.

The question of whether or not to put turtles into hibernation is one of the most important for amateurs keeping them at home. In different sources there are various recommendations on this issue.

Some experts believe that turtles should not be allowed to hibernate at home, while others believe that hibernation is mandatory for these animals.

Turtles are cold-blooded animals. They hibernate when the ambient temperature becomes too high or too low in order to maintain the body’s vital functions.

At home, at a stable temperature, most of these animals do not need hibernation, however, some turtles, especially recently caught, still try to find a secluded corner and get a winter home there. If the owner noticed that in the autumn the animal became less active and began to yawn frequently, it is necessary to ensure all conditions so that the turtle can easily oversleep until spring. 2 months before hibernation, the turtle needs enhanced nutrition. The animal needs to be fed several times a day so that it is stocked with all the necessary nutrients for a long sleep.

Before arranging an animal for the winter, it is necessary to consult with a veterinarian, as turtle apathy can be one of the symptoms of the disease. It is recommended to enter into hibernation those turtles from which next year it is supposed to get offspring.

In the event that the owner does not have the opportunity to keep the turtle in a cool place for several months, it is better not to put it into hibernation.

Keeping And Caring For Freshwater Turtles In Captivity

Graptemis or tortoise-like tortoise

Before hibernation, turtles need enhanced nutrition, because during sleep they lose about half their weight.

The turtle should sleep in a room where the temperature is maintained from 1 to 6 ° C. It is best to choose a cool basement as a place for hibernation. Lower the temperature gradually so as not to overcool the animal. In addition, a fairly high humidity should be maintained in the wintering room. The substrate, in which the turtle will sleep, should pass moisture well, but not hold it back. As a substrate, it is best to use a mixture of sphagnum moss and leaves.

Before introducing the animal into hibernation, it must be prepared. In the last week before hibernation, the turtle should not be fed. The day before going to bed, the animal should be bathed several times so that it can completely empty the intestines.

The duration of a turtle’s sleep, depending on its type and size, can be from 3 to 5 months.

The turtle should be taken out of hibernation gradually: first you need to raise the temperature, then bathe the awakened turtle in warm water. The first 2-3 days after waking up, the turtle does not need to be fed in order to better adapt to normal life.

Few people know that the first person who achieved good results in breeding freshwater turtles was not a scientist at all, but an amateur who had devoted his work for many years. Therefore, the owners of these wonderful animals should not despair if they can not immediately get offspring from their pets. One of the keys to success in breeding turtles is patience.

In order for the turtles kept at home to breed, you need to provide them with optimal conditions: a balanced diet, hibernation, favorable living conditions and relative freedom of movement.

For successful breeding, in addition to observing all conditions of detention, it is desirable to place several individuals of the same species in one pen or terrarium.

When forming a group of turtles for breeding, the correct ratio of the number of females and males is important, which contributes to the manifestation of mating behavior in these animals. In freshwater turtles, this ratio is 2: 1.

When choosing animals, you need to take into account their age: you should select mature, but not older individuals, which must first be shown to the veterinarian. Sick or weakened animals are unlikely to produce offspring.

For a while, a group of selected turtles needs to be carefully watched to determine how ready they are for mating games and breeding. If appropriate relationships have been established between heterogeneous individuals, the remaining turtles need to be transplanted to another terrarium.

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In preparation for breeding, food containing turtles must be added to turtles.

It is interesting to watch the mating games of turtles both in vivo and at home, since during the breeding season, the behavior of freshwater turtles is very different from normal. So, males often fight among themselves, seeking the favor of their chosen female. They push around, trying to pry each other with a shell to flip onto their backs. Female turtles do not always prefer those males who won the fight. They can choose both the defeated and the male, who did not participate in the battle.

Keeping And Caring For Freshwater Turtles In Captivity

Keeping And Caring For Freshwater Turtles In Captivity

The position of freshwater turtles during mating on land

During the breeding season, turtles create comfortable conditions: they do not bother them, exclude all extraneous noise and vibration, try to touch animals as little as possible.

In order for freshwater turtles to start mating games, the temperature of the water in the terrarium or aquarium should be 22–26 ° C. On land, you should prepare a place where the female will lay her eggs. You can dig a small depression in the sand or soil and place there a small container with sphagnum moss so that it is on par with land.

The courtship of the male for the female is mainly aimed at stopping her and making her adopt the position most suitable for mating. Mating itself can occur both in water and on land.

Turtles, like other reptiles, after building a nest and laying eggs do not care about their offspring at all, and their cubs are born completely ready for independent life.

After the female lays eggs, the container should be removed and placed in an incubator, and the female should be isolated from other animals for some time.

Keeping And Caring For Freshwater Turtles In Captivity

The position of freshwater turtles during mating in water

In the absence of an incubator, you can use a regular glass jar or aquarium filled with sand, which should be regularly moistened. Such an incubator can be heated using a conventional incandescent lamp or by placing it next to a central heating battery.

Female nutrition for several weeks should be enhanced, since during this period the immunity of turtles is weakened and they are more susceptible to various diseases.

The temperature in the incubator should be maintained at 28-30 ° C. The eggs of freshwater turtles, unlike birds, cannot be turned over in any case, therefore they should be transferred to the incubator very carefully.

Eggs laid by turtles are far from always fertilized. In order not to keep unfertilized eggs in the incubator for several months, they need to be checked. To do this, you can build a primitive ovoscope: put a small light bulb in a small cardboard box, you can use a flashlight from your pocket, and cover the box with a lid in which an egg-shaped hole is cut, but a little smaller. To test an egg, you need to put it, without turning over, into the hole and turn on the light bulb. In the middle of the fertilized egg, dimming will be noticeable, and the empty one will transmit light evenly. When checking, you should remember that the longer the maturity of the eggs, the more accurate the result.

Blending’s Freshwater Turtle Plastron

After 2-3 months, depending on the type of turtle, small turtles will appear from the eggs. They must be immediately placed in the aquaterrarium or aquarium.

When leaving the egg, small turtles use an egg tooth, which is located on the tip of the nose. With this tooth, the cub breaks the egg shell from the inside. However, the cub spends some time in the egg. A few days after hatching, the egg tooth disappears, and the yolk sac resolves at about the same time (although in some species it can remain for several weeks).

All young turtles have traces of a recent stay in the egg: this is the transverse fold on the plastron, associated with the position of the cub in the egg.

In no case should hatched turtles be placed in the same paddock or terrarium with adult animals, as these reptiles have no maternal instinct and can harm small turtles.

Do not keep the turtle on the floor. You cannot be completely sure that the turtle will not catch a cold, swallow a foreign body, or get injured.

You can’t just take out the swimming turtle to the street.

It is impossible to arrange a nest for masonry from wool yarn or fabric.

Animals you just bought must be quarantined, not settled directly in the terrarium.

An open terrarium or shelter for turtles is arranged in the place where they will be isolated from other pets.

You can not use sand, small pebbles, small sawdust as soil – their turtle can simply swallow. Also, you can not keep the turtle completely without soil.

Do not leave the turtle unattended in the garden.

Do not give the turtle food of only one species, as this leads to the development of diseases.

Calcium supplements in powder form are given to turtles daily.

Vitamin-mineral dressing can not be given by eye.

You can not smear the turtle with oil vitamin preparations.

After contact with the turtle, you should always wash your hands.

To transport turtles in the cold season, use baskets with heating pads.

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