To keep the red-eared turtles at home, you need a properly equipped, adequate-sized aquarium. Rather, it will be called its aquaterrarium, since such a reservoir contains not only water, but also an island of land. You can buy housing for turtles in specials. shops or do it yourself.
Since the reptile is quite demanding on the place of residence, you need to know how to properly arrange an aquarium for the red-eared turtle. The pet's home should be as close as possible to its natural habitat. Only in this case your ward will be healthy and happy in his own way.
Volume of the aquarium for the Red-eared Turtle
It is necessary to approach the choice of an aquarium on the basis of the size of the red-eared, or (if you have a young individual) to take immediately "for growth". Keep in mind that in a few years, a tiny turtle the size of a peach bone will turn into an adult individual the size of a saucer.
The optimal size of the aquarium, depending on the size of the turtle:
- kids from 3 to 10 cm - 50 liters,
- young turtles from 10 to 16 cm - 80 liters,
- large turtles from 17 to 25 cm - 150 liters,
- adult animals - from 150 liters.
In order to prevent the escape of eared-eared, the top of the aquatorrarium should be closed with a lid that allows air to pass through well.
We are all in a hurry, but the article is large and I do not want to read. Here is a small introduction, so that you can imagine what the article is all about ...
The trachea is very hardy and well suited for beginners. On the one hand, they live a long time and often become the first type of turtles among many lovers, but on the other hand, people who buy them often destroy them. They don’t know that turtles need water and land (shore), on which there should be warmth and where UV rays should go. At the same time, they spend most of the time in water, which should be clean, warm and regularly replaced. As a rule, negligent owners cause all problems and illnesses, who do not know that dirty water is the cause of infections, without calcium the shell will become crooked, without heat and a UV lamp, the turtle does not absorb calcium and gets sick!
They are fast, strong and can be aggressive!
They easily attack other turtles, and against each other. They are also known for their personality and charisma, which compares favorably with other species of turtles. They are very skilled when it comes to feeding and can take food from each other. In the wild, being an invasive species, they displace and destroy endemics so that in the same Australia they are outlawed and destroyed.
Ruby-eared American turtles can be an excellent pet, if only because allergies to reptiles are rare.
However, if you decide to have her as a gift to a child, remember that all responsibility for her health and behavior lies with you! Children can not take care of the turtle at the proper level, moreover, they can quite quickly cool down to a new toy and abandon it. And it needs to be fed, changed water, heated, even washed.
How many red-eared turtles live? With good care, the tortoise can live from 20 to 40 years.
Living in nature
Trachemis is a freshwater tortoise native to North America; it is especially common along the Mississippi River until it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. She lives in a warm climate in the southern US states, from Colorado to Florida. But, its popularity is great and now it is often found in nature around the world, often creating a threat to the local fauna.
In the natural habitat, it needs the following conditions: fresh water, places to bask, dense vegetation, and nests. Usually these are lakes, ponds, swamps, tributaries. He prefers ponds with warm water and a weak current, always with places above the surface of the water on which it will climb out to warm up. Often in such places, they lie directly on top of each other. The bottom in such places is usually sandy or silty.
The range is usually limited by the water's edge; American aquatic eared turtles do not like to move far from the shore, although females need solid ground to lay their eggs.
Small turtles in nature feed on fish, snails, insects and various plants.
Appearance, size, life span
The rubella tortoise is recognizable, it is difficult to confuse it with other species. The characteristic red (sometimes orange) streak starts from the eyes and continues along the neck. Carapax (upper part of the shell), roundish and smooth, olive green with black and yellow lines. Plastron (lower part of the shell) is also smooth, yellowish in color with dark spots. Young turtles have a very bright green shell color, but it darkens with age. The spots on the carapace darken with age, and the red stripe on the head fades.
The size of the red-eared turtle is determined by measuring with a ruler the length of the carapace from edge to edge. At the same time, they do not pay attention to the curvature of the shell, so it is best to measure with a ruler, not a tape measure.
Only hatched turtles are about 2.5 cm long, after a year of life they grow up to 5–7 cm. Males become sexually mature at a size of about 10 cm, and females 12.5. The average size of the turtle is from 25 to 30 cm, depending on the conditions of detention and species. Males are smaller than females.
Note that size cannot be a sign of age. The fact is that at home, turtles grow faster than in nature, this is the result of overfeeding and ideal conditions. But, with proper maintenance and feeding at home, turtles live longer than their wild relatives. A domestic turtle can live up to 40 years, while a wild turtle can live no more than 20.
- 1 year: 6 cm.
- 2 years: female - 9 cm, male - 8 cm.
- 3 years: female - 14 cm, male 10 cm.
- 4 years: female - 16 cm, male - 12 cm.
- 5 years: female - 18 cm, male - 14 cm.
- 6 years old: female - 20 cm, male - 17 cm.
The red-eared turtle has well-developed sensory organs, especially eyesight and smell. They can distinguish colors both in water and above it, they can look out for places for laying and other turtles. They notice movement well, at a distance of up to 40 meters, it does not matter whether it is a victim or a predator. They also have a good scent to help find food.
But her hearing is not very good, her ears are covered with skin and feel only dull sounds and vibration. The carapace is sensitive to touch, as nerves pass through it. In addition, they have a sense of touch, and they can refuse tasteless food in favor of more delicious.
From sounds, it can make hissing, snorting, or short sounds like a squeak. Turtles do not breathe under water, they rise to the surface for oxygen!
How to determine the gender?
Just as domestic red-eared turtles grow faster, they also become sexually mature faster. A sexually mature turtle becomes over the age of a year, and you cannot determine the sex of a turtle with certainty if its size is less than 10 cm.
More or less confidently, we can say that the male or female is when the male is 2–4 years old, and the females are 3–5 years old and their size is about 10–15 cm. True, in case of abundant feeding, it may become earlier mature.
The main differences between male and female: females are larger and have a shorter tail. In addition, the female cesspool is located closer to the base of the tail. The claws on the paws can serve as an indirect sign, in males they are longer and curved. Of even more relative signs, in males, the plastron is slightly concave inward, which helps it during mating.
The location of the cloaca in the female (right) and male (left) Male claws
So, you decided to have a red-eared turtle. You can do just go to the market or the pet store and choose the first one. Or it’s more difficult, first to read, find out, create conditions, buy and take it to the vet. What for? Vendors often keep them in unsuitable conditions, and the veterinarian will check the turtle for injuries, infections, tightness, and illness.
If you already have turtles, then it is best to hold the acquired quarantine for 3 months. You cannot keep cubs and adult turtles together, as this is fraught with accidental and deliberate injuries! Only turtles of similar size and living conditions can live together.
After the purchase and change of residence, it may take several days to adapt. During this time, the turtle can be either inhibited or very active, it is better to leave it alone, but do not forget to feed and look after it.
Handling the turtle
When you pick up a turtle you need to be very careful!
They can be slippery from water, resist, hiss and empty the intestines. They have sharp claws, powerful paws and they bite painfully, so it is not always pleasant to take them. Try to hold the turtle with both hands! Due to the awkward handling, many owners and even more turtles suffered.
After you hold the turtle in your hands, wash them with soap! This is especially important for children, since despite the fact that the red-eared turtle is domestic, it lives in a different environment and there are other bacteria.
It is especially important to monitor the cleanliness in the aquarium and the freshness of the feed, as turtles can tolerate salmonellosis.
Ideally, any animal in the house should not have access to the kitchen and places where food is being prepared. Avoid washing the turtle in the kitchen sink, and do not wash the aquarium and accessories there.
Most of the turtles appearing in the home aquarium are still babies. They are still very tender and it is important to ensure that they ate well, and were in comfort. Cubs have a high mortality rate, are susceptible to disease and can die for no apparent reason.
If you notice something on the plastron near your turtle, then this may be a yolk sac. Freshly hatched turtles consume nutrients from it and should not be removed or touched. They can refuse food for the first time, and begin to eat after the yolk sac is completely absorbed.
Try not to keep small turtles in your arms. They, of course, are beautiful and elegant, but they can be frightened, fall into stress and get sick. Do not stand over the aquarium and do not knock on the glass, let them get used to it for several days, start eating. It is very important that the temperature of water and air (land) is stable.
It is not possible to place an aquarium with a red-eared tortoise in direct sunlight or in a draft. Make sure that she has free access to land and this place is heated with a special lamp.
Keeping temperatures for cubs should be slightly higher than for adult turtles! It is 26-27С for water and up to 32С for sushi.
Water should be as clean as possible and if there is no good filter, then replace every couple of days. Feeding - branded feeds for turtles with calcium, the benefit of them now is a wide selection. As already mentioned, do not hold cubs and adult turtles together. Remember, most problems can be avoided simply by creating the necessary conditions.
What do you need to buy for content?
You understand that prices can vary greatly, so just list the necessary things:
- 200 Liter Turtle Aquarium
- 100 Watt Water Heater
- Filter (can be internal, but better external)
- UV lamp for aquatic turtles with UVB 10%
- Lamp for heating
- Land / coast / islet
As you can see, the list is quite serious and most importantly - all this is really necessary. Now do you understand why so many domestic turtles die?
How to care for a red-eared turtle?
For almost everyone who wants to have a turtle, the first problem is to find an adequate capacity and buy equipment. And then they begin to understand that the content is more complex than they imagined. And very often, the owners simply do not buy what they need, and then the animal suffers and dies.
Here, even such a simple thing as what to put on the terrarium can cause problems. Aquarium from 150 liters, plus water, equipment, shore. The output will be more than three hundred kilograms, and not every table can stand it.
A more spacious aquarium will allow your aquatic turtle to remain more active and healthy. Remember - if you keep the turtle in cramped conditions, it will not stay small! This is a common misconception, which also applies to aquarium fish and other animals. She will become sick, twisted, but not small!
What do you need to buy for a turtle?
So, for maintenance, you will need an aquarium or a terrarium for a red-eared turtle (more precisely, aquaretrararium, since it needs both land and water), from 150 to 200 liters. When you look at a small turtle, such requirements seem overstated, but it will grow up and become much larger. There should be enough water so that the turtle can turn over freely, that is, more than the width of its shell.
You also need artificial land or an island on which the turtle will crawl out and bask. Such an island can be bought at a pet store, they are specially made. If you decide to do it yourself, then remember that it should be a sloping climb, but which animal will be comfortable to climb. In principle, this is all that is needed of him.
You can make an island with your own hands, in nature turtles are selected for driftwood, stones, old tires, any garbage sticking out of the water. But, it’s easier to buy an already finished product, since it must meet certain conditions: not to be toxic, to be stable, to have a textured surface, not have sharp corners and a burr.
The shore could be like that
The islet should occupy at least 25% of the surface of your aquaterrarium and meet the following requirements:
- heated, this is the main purpose of the shore for the turtle. The temperature on it should be 10 degrees higher than in water. Too high a temperature is not good, it can lead to hyperthermia (overheating) in the turtle.
- be submerged, at least one side must go into the water
- be safe so that the turtle does not get stuck between the wall of the aquarium and the shore itself
- do not emit toxins when heated and in water
- be stable, as the red-eared turtles are quite strong and can turn the shore upside down
- have a texture surface
An example of an aquaterrarium with a turtle and fish:
Shore heating for turtle
In nature, turtles come ashore to warm themselves, and the same thing needs to be done for them in the home terrarium. To achieve the desired temperature of 30-35C (on the shell), you need a lamp located above the turtle. You will need to look at the thermometer regularly to check the parameters.
Be careful, because too close a lamp can cause burns, especially if you contain several aquatic turtles, they can climb on top of each other and be closer to a heat source.
Also, do not forget that turtles diving into the water raise the spray, and those falling on the base will easily destroy it, as it is hot. So the lamp for turtles should be closed from water and fumes.
The perfect aquaterrarium
In general, you can buy a suitable lamp in a pet store, especially since now they are sold in pairs with UV lamps, which are needed separately.
The heating lamp, like the UV lamp, must work all day, it’s 10-12 hours.
Both lamps in operation
UV lamp for turtles
Proper lighting and heating are critical issues in keeping a red-eared turtle. In nature, she has enough sunlight and heat to produce all the necessary elements.
But in captivity, she lacks either warmth (they talked about him above), nor the spectrum, and she needs special care. More precisely, the UV rays that are needed so that it can properly absorb calcium and produce B vitamins.
In the absence of a UV lamp in the terrarium, the turtle begins to absorb calcium poorly, and she needs it for the normal development of the shell. The result is terrible animals that suffer from rickets, with a very curved shell.
The lamp for heating, like the UV lamp should work all day, it's 10-12 hours. Moreover, glass or plastic delays a significant part of the rays and the UV lamp should hang above the turtle. For adult turtles, a lamp with a UVB of 10% is used.
Since the red-eared turtle is an aquatic species, it spends most of the time in water, so it is very important to monitor its quality. Turtles eat, sleep and empty into the water, so you need to filter, change it often. Dirty water is one of the sources of discomfort, disease, and infection.
The minimum water level in the aquarium is such that the turtle could roll over if it suddenly appears on its back. That is, no less than the width of its shell. However, if possible, you need to keep it higher, since the more water, the more stable it is and the cleaner it remains. At the same time, access to the shore at the turtle should be free, it should be able to climb up and warm up at any time.
Water must be set aside for at least a day so that chlorine leaves it and it acquires room temperature. The temperature of the water in the aquarium with the turtle should be 22-28 ° C and not fall below 20, if this is possible for you, then it must be heated using a heater. Be sure to use a thermometer, do not trust your feelings!
Purity of water is very important, since turtles both eat and empty in it. The harmful substances ammonia and nitrates accumulate very quickly, the water starts to stink. To avoid this, the water in the aquarium is changed once or twice a week. You can also use an internal or external filter, however, this does not cancel the water change. For a turtle, the internal filters are too low, and the external ones are good, but quite expensive.
How long can a red-eared turtle live without water if it escapes from an aquarium? Quite a long time, it happens that they run away from the aquarium and the owners find them only after a few days, sluggish, but alive. In general, she will live quietly for a day or two, but will suffer from drying out.
Omnivores, eating a variety of types of food. Diversity is important as it supports the health of the turtle. You can feed: artificial feed, feed for aquarium fish, vegetables, aquarium plants, insects, fish, invertebrates. In addition to variety, it is important to give a balanced diet high in calcium. Like all wild animals that live at home, there is a tendency to overeat.
Young turtles are mostly omnivores. But, as they grow and mature, they become more herbivorous. Omnivore means that there is a large amount of protein in the diet, but in adult turtles it is much less.
Turtles of any age will prefer live prey or carrion, but feed it only occasionally. It is also necessary to additionally give calcium for the normal formation and growth of the shell of a turtle.
How to feed the red-eared turtle?
They eat almost everything, but artificial fodder for aquatic turtles may well be the main food, since there are many options and species. Their composition is specially selected so as to provide all the necessary substances for turtles. The high protein content in commercial feeds allows you to give them in small portions.
To make feeding more balanced, add calcium and vegetable feeds and your turtle will be happy. Note that in commercial feeds, calcium supplements most often already go, read the labels on the package.
Trachemys need water to swallow, as they do not produce saliva. They can take food on land, but will drag it into the water to eat. You can use this for your own benefit and feed them in a separate container, so the water in the aquarium will remain clean for a longer time.
Trachemys and live food (guppies, snails)
Omnivores, they enjoy eating everything they can reach. The victims of the turtle will be insects, and snails, small fish and worms, crickets, etc. So the question is whether guppies and red-eared turtles get along in one aquarium at all. The same can be said of any aquarium fish, even large ones, they can bite.
Despite the attractiveness and accessibility of such feeds, they should be given sparingly. It is better to feed with special food for turtles, as they are balanced and do not tolerate diseases and parasites.
Poor goldfish (slow, say?)
How much and how often to feed the red-eared turtles?
This is a difficult question, because for the most part it depends on the size, age and the feed that you give.
Turtles up to one year old need to be fed artificial food daily; vegetable feed can also be given daily, even if it refuses. But the turtle is older than a year, you can feed in a day or even two. However, vegetable feed, again, can be fed more often.
The amount of feed may also vary. Freshly hatched turtles should receive more than 50% of their total protein intake. Since most turtle food contains about 40%, you can additionally give fish such as guppies, insects, earthworms. For adult turtles, the percentage of artificial feed is reduced to 10-25%, and the rest should be different plants.
Since the size, shape and composition of the feed can vary significantly, you need to focus on what the manufacturer writes on the package.
Hibernation is the period during which the red-eared turtle falls during the winter months. There is no need for the domestic turtle to hibernate! Moreover, it is not recommended! Never stimulate her to do this.
Reasons for hibernation may be unsafe:
- you may not have enough experience to look after her at this time
- most likely in order for her to normally fall into hibernation under your conditions
- young and sick turtles may be too weak and cannot tolerate hibernation
- your turtle may not need it at all
Turtles hibernating in nature burrow into the leaves and silt at the bottom of the reservoir, the depth of which is shallow, on the contrary. They do not rise to the surface during this time, but absorb oxygen through membranes in the mouth, pharynx and cesspool. In this case, the depth of the reservoir is important so that the water is not too cold, but also contains enough oxygen. Most artificial conditions and ponds are not able to recreate such conditions.
In general, the domestic red-eared tortoise should not be, and why not enter into hibernation. By the way, the key condition here is the water temperature, it must be maintained at 24-26C. Lower temperatures just remind her of winter and hibernation.
Reproduction of red-eared turtles
Sexual turtle or not depends on its size. Approximately: 2-4 years for a male and a shell of more than 10 cm and 2-5 years for a female and 12-13 cm. A sexually mature male begins mating games (although young ones can also try), with a kind of courtship. During which he swims in front of the female, face to her and waves his paws very quickly in front of her eyes. In nature, reproduction occurs in March and June, but domestic turtles can mate throughout the year.
When the turtle is pregnant, that is, bears eggs, you need to prepare for it a special place where it will lay these eggs. A female red-eared turtle can bear eggs without a male, but they will not be fertilized! You can gently feel the eggs between the carapace and its hind legs, but be careful, they are very fragile. The female will instinctively look for a place for the nest and egg laying. Clutch can contain up to 20 eggs for a large female. If the conditions are suitable, then the female lays up to 3-4 clutches during the season.
In the home aquatorrarium, the female signals about preparing for breeding by changing her behavior. She becomes very restless, imitates digging movements with her hind legs and tries to get out of the aquarium. Also during this time she spends more on land and needs calcium and UV rays. The place where she can lay eggs is very important, if he is not there, she will lay them in the water or even carry on, which will cause them to harden. If you see that the turtle has laid one or two eggs, try to make it a nest. Most likely, the rest of the clutch has not yet come out and she is still pregnant.
If the female does not lay eggs, they harden, can cause infection and death of the animal. Even a properly prepared nest is not a guarantee that everything will go well, as the turtle can be old, protracted, sick. If she tries to postpone the clutch, but nothing works, then it is better to take her to the veterinarian.
Possible signs of problems: decreased activity, heavy breathing, cavities, or swelling near the cloaca. If an unpleasant liquid comes out of it or there is a smell, then perhaps the eggs inside have broken. If you have any health problems with the Red-eared Turtle, contact your veterinarian immediately!
Health and Disease
More than 85% of all diseases of red-eared turtles are the result of improper care, maintenance and feeding, and most often all at once. It is easy to maintain clean water and the right temperature for your pet, as well as create the right conditions.
Here are the basics to help you keep your turtle healthy:
- Sick turtles should be kept at a higher temperature, in most cases 27-30 Celsius. At this temperature, the immune system works at its peak. It is important to maintain fluid balance in the body of the turtle so that it is not dehydrated. Keeping track of what she drank and was in the water is more important than her diet, as a sick turtle can die from dehydration, her kidneys will fail. Even in depleted turtles, the fluid balance is first restored, and then they start feeding.
- A sick turtle does not swim well, swims on one side, it can even sink. Reduce the water level and make sure that it can go ashore as soon as it wants.
- If infection is suspected, immediately isolate the animal, and be sure to treat your hands after contact with it.
- The basis for success in the treatment of turtles is an appeal to a specialist. Do not treat the animal yourself, go to the vet!
The main diseases of the eared turtles and their symptoms
The red-eared turtle has swollen eyes or red, often it does not open them. The skin around them is red, swollen, there may be discharge from the eyes.
A bacterial infection of the eyes, most often caused by dirty water. Change the water, clean in the aquaterrarium, check the temperature regime.
Antibiotics in drops, cleaning the aquarium.
Education in the mouth, most often necrotic in nature. Turtle refuses to feed, eyes may be closed.
Bacterial infection in the mouth caused by gram-negative bacteria.
Serious condition requiring immediate treatment. The mouth should be cleaned with gauze and an antimicrobial solution, removing the affected tissue. The basis of treatment should be antibiotics prescribed by the veterinarian. With a timely start, it is well treatable.
The tortoise is sluggish, holds its head high or in an unusual position. May show weakness in the front or hind legs, there may be discharge from the mouth or nose, often wheezing.
Serious respiratory infection, probably pneumonia.
Be sure to visit a veterinarian. Antibiotic injections are prescribed first (antibiotics are not given to the turtles orally, due to the duration of the action and the unpredictability of the effect when passing through the digestive tract)
Soft shell of a red-eared turtle. Karapas or plastron (the upper or lower part of the tortoise shell) is mild, hemorrhages are visible. There may be an unpleasant smell (stink from a turtle), the affected area is rapidly increasing.
Bacterial infection of the tissues, probably from injury or illness. Generally caused by gram-negative bacteria.
Treatment of the affected area with antibacterial drugs, removal of dead tissue, isolation. Antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian. In most cases, the cause is injury - burns from the heater, damage to sharp stones, etc.
Lethargy, weakness, probably redness of the paws or plastron.
Sepsis is a blood poisoning.
In most cases, sepsis is the result of an injury through which bacteria from dirty water enter the bloodstream. Treatment is with antibiotics, right and fast.
Carapace (tortoise shell) is soft and can be curved. Weak limbs, problems with feeding.
Calcium deficiency, complete or partial.
In very advanced cases, the turtle dies. The treatment consists of injections of calcium supplements, plus revised feeding and increased UV radiation.
Fresh, open wound.
The result of a brawl, drop, or damage about decor or stones.
Remove the cause of the injury. Treat the wound, clean the aquarium, and make sure that the wound does not become a gateway to infection and sepsis.
Swelling or inflammation on the head.
Abscess in the ear. In the case of the Red-eared Turtle, the most common cause is dirty water.
Surgery under general anesthesia.