Turtles as pets: Care and concerns – Part 10

This review is about yellow bellied turtles and not turtles in general.

Yellow bellied Turtles (Trachemys Scripta) come from south-east of the USA from Florida through to Texas. They are olive green or brown in colour and have a distinctive yellow blotch behind there eyes when they are in adolescence. Their shells are hard and are brown on the top and a creamy yellow underneath, often with dark blotches. The shells can grow up to one foot in diameter but do not usually exceed eight inches in diameter. Females tend to grow larger than the males. They can live up to 30 years of age in the wild, but around 20 years in captivity.

They are often called sliders because at the slightest threat of danger they will push themselves of their basking spot and slide into the water. When basking they stick out there necks put out there back legs and stretch their toes to try and absorb the warming rays of the sun.

Housing



Housing a slider is quite easy you will need a tank large enough for it to turn over if it should turn upside down, good filtration and proper heating and lighting.

The Ideal size tank for an adult slider should hold around 70 gallons/320 litres of water, however 3 or 4 little baby sliders can be housed quite comfortably in 15 gallon/50 litre tank.

A good underwater filter will also be required because sliders are messy.

Getting the right lighting is essential for sliders; this is because they like to bask in the warming rays of the sun in the wild. So a UB-V light will required this must be placed directly above the basking area. The air temperature should be between 95-102 degrees Fahrenheit

Lastly you will need a heater, sliders like warm water, so the water temperature should be kept between 72-85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Feeding



Sliders are omnivorous which means they eat both plant and animal matter, but there diet changes as they mature. Baby sliders eat lots of insects, dead fish and plants. The adults however tend to eat only plants. Do not overfeed because it will turn the water foul. Turtle food is available from most reptile and aquatic centres

Handling



You can handle sliders, but be warned you could end up with a nasty nip on your finger. The shell is a living, growing and feeling part of your turtle so handle with care sparingly. Hold the slider securely with a finger or if it is larger place a hand on each side of its shell and keep your fingers well away from its head. A slider has a long neck and can stretch a good distance. You should always wash your hands thoroughly after handling because they produce salmonella which can be quite harmful.

Cleaning and maintenance



Sliders are very messy and should be cleaned out regularly. You must do a 25% water change weekly and a thorough clean out once every month

Diseases



Puffy Eyelids – lack of Vitamin A

Soft Shell – Inability to metabolize calcium or insufficient calcium

Shell Rot – Rough holes in the shell caused by poor water quality

Respiratory ailments – Caused by improper temperature control

Dystocia (egg-binding) -This is caused my females retaining there eggs due to poor housing.

Thanks for reading.

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