How to Take Care of Your Pet Turtle
Thinking of a turtle as a pet is in itself an exotic concept. Turtles are definitely not your regular cuddly pets. But once you get to know them, they are as loving as our furballs. It may seem like being a pet parent to a turtle is a trivial task but it takes a lot of responsibility. This is especially true for an exotic pet when you have limited sources of knowledge. Therefore, we decided to share a few tips to make your job hassle-free and keep your turtle healthy and safe.
How to choose a pet turtle
Make sure the turtle you are buying belongs to the legal species in India. Being an exotic animal, many turtle species are banned by the Indian government because of their illegal trading. According to the laws, the turtles which are native to India are banned as pets. Turtles like Red Ear Slider Turtle, Reeve’s Turtle, Wood Turtle, African Sideneck Turtle are the few species that are most commonly reared as a pet in India.
Managing your turtle
Depending on the species of your turtle, their management and living habitat varies. For example, the Red-Eared Slider belongs to the semi-aquatic family, they need a proper aquarium to live in, similar to their natural habitat. They have a habit to live in freshwater with thick vegetation. Creating a similar environment at home is difficult but that doesn't mean you should put the exotic animal in a plastic box. Getting an aquarium which houses a minimum of 20-gallon waterspace is suitable for the species with water filtration facilities as they make the water very dirty. Similarly, depending upon the nature of the species, their setup varies. They also need a good amount of vitamin D and a major source of vitamin D is the sun. Along with a good aquarium environment, sunbathing is necessary for their shell development.
Your turtle’s diet
Most of the turtle species are omnivorous. They can have both plant and meat-based diets. Being away from their natural habitat, it is necessary to provide them all the nutrition for their healthy growth and development. A blend of commercially available turtle food with home-based food is what we suggest. Apples, bananas, kiwi, carrots, cauliflower, cantaloupe, leafy greens, and veggies are great sources of vitamins, minerals, and calcium for them. Boiled egg and meat chunks (cooked not raw) are a good source of protein for them.
Remember not to overfeed them. A young turtle should be fed twice a day whereas a full-grown adult turtle should be fed alternatively. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and pyramiding issues in Turtles. Pyramiding is an overgrown shell of a turtle that looks like a pyramid in shape and the effect is irreversible. Hence, monitoring the diet of your exotic little buddy is of utmost concern.
Diseases in Turtle
The most familiar thing you can observe in any pet when he is suffering from pain is inappetence. This lack of appetite is then followed by nasal discharge and respiratory infection. This infection is mostly related to dietary deficiency of vitamin A. When your exotic little fellow is suffering from deficiency of vitamin A, you will also observe swelling of the eye and eyelids with pus-like discharge, ear abscess, and lethargy. In such cases, veggies rich in vitamin A should be fed along with an additional supplement of vitamins and minerals.
Respiratory infection in turtles is generally bacterial, with the symptoms of all the above-mentioned conditions. In such cases, open-mouth breathing and a wheezing sound are observed. Antibiotic medicine is recommended here with a proper dose rate. The underlying cause for respiratory infection is mostly a deficiency of vitamin A. Hence, supportive medicine is also needed for easy and quick recovery.
Aural Abscesses or in general terms ear abscess is the swelling of the middle ear (tympanic cavity) due to viral or bacterial infection. This is because of unhygienic living, abnormal/unsuitable temperature, or even due to lack of vitamin A and D. Vet will surgically remove the pus from the ear and he will keep your pet on supportive treatment of antibiotics.
Things to be taken care of:
- Always check with your vet before giving any medicines
- Do not feed raw egg or raw meat, it increases the chances of viral or parasitic infection
- Protein sources should be given after 2-3 days of interval
- Overfeeding can be dangerous
- Keep your pet’s home clean and change/filter the water according to their needs
- Always provide fresh food and remove the rotten/stale food from the tank
- Avoid packed or fast food like chips, bread etc
- Deworm your pet regularly with the help of your veterinarian
If you are a parent of exotic turtles & need help and support for their care, call our vets now! SmartVet consultations are now available for exotic pets too. Call us on +91 8431620000 to know more!