Aquatic turtles are a high maintenance pet, so it is important to fully research their needs before adopting! In this post I will cover some introductory information about aquatic turtles. I will also be posting about diet, habitat, and health.
Species of aquatic turtles include the mud turtle, red eared slider, painted turtle, and snapping turtles, among others. Most aquatic turtles sold in the United States are North American species, although some European species are sold as well. In the wild, aquatic turtles can be found in calm, warm, fresh water ponds, lakes, creeks, and streams. They can be spotted laying on rocks or logs to sun themselves. Aquatic turtles are omnivores, meaning that they eat both meat and vegetables.
Aquatic turtles can grow to be 5-11 inches long, depending on the species. Turtles live a very long time – their lifespan is from 20-40+ years.
Turtles are cold-blooded (ectothermic) which means that their body temperature is dependent on their environment. Humans are able to regulate their body temperature through sweating and shivering, for instance. Turtles cannot regulate their body temperature internally, so they depend on water temperature and sun basking to keep their bodies at the correct temperature. Turtle pets must have heat sources, as covered in the habitat post.
Water temperature should be between 75 – 82 degrees F.
Basking area (“sun”) temperature should be between 75 – 88 degrees F.
Night time temperature should be between 65 – 70 degrees F.
A turtle can live alone or with another turtle. Young turtles that have been born and raised in captivity make the best pets. Turtles caught in the wild can carry disease and become quite unhappy in captivity since they are used to freedom. If you choose to own multiple turtles, please take into consideration all of the habitat requirements for turtles (your tank will need to be BIG.) Multiple turtles should also be similarly sized to help prevent bullying. With more than one turtle you have to watch for violent behavior and injury.
There is a lot to learn about aquatic turtles before adopting one. They are long-living animals with many special requirements for a healthy life.
Jennifer Kean is a writer and pet-lover who owns two rescue kittens (lifetime cat owner too!) and has a 40 gallon fish tank!