Turtles as pets: Care and concerns – Part 2

The general fascination with turtles as pets has been around for decades – most of us over the age of thirty remember the cute little baby sliders with patterns painted on their shells. Many of us have found a turtle wandering on the road after a good summer rain and have been tempted to pick him up and bring him home.

Box turtles of the genus Terrapene have long been a favorite in the turtle hobby for their docile nature, bright colors, and relatively easy care. But for you and your shell-baby to have a happy life together, there are some basic things you should keep in mind.

For simplicity’s sake, I am taking a generalized approach here, based on the experiences of turtle keepers worldwide. A truly exhaustive approach would take more time than I have, more patience than you have, and would be unreadable in one lump. The best approach is to read from several different sources over an extended period of time.

For starters, and most importantly, DON’T GRAB WILD TURTLES!

Box turtles are a lovely pet for the experienced “hands-off” reptile owner. They are NOT recommended for beginners, as their unique needs and behavior take many years of study to understand. Not to mention that in many states, the keeping and/or selling of an indigenous species is regulated by law, and your cute little pet might wind up costing you a pretty penny in fines and fees. If you see a turtle gamely trying to cross a busy highway, he’s obviously going somewhere important. The best you can do for him is pick him up, take him to the side of the road he was headed for, and forget about him afterward. You’ve done your good deed.

I won’t even begin to describe the potential parasites and germs a wild turtle carries around with him – you might have just eaten dinner. Suffice it to say, turtles often dine on carrion and other partially-rotten refuse.

DON’T PLAY WITH YOUR TURTLE UNLESS HE REALLY WANTS YOU TO!

True reptile fans know that some pets just don’t like to be handled – ask anyone who has watched their cute little baby iguana or Caiman grow up into a four-foot behemoth. Or the guy down the street with the twelve-foot reticulated python that eats whole turkeys. Sometimes it’s best to just sit back and enjoy the scenery, rather than trying to get interactive.

Box turtles often fall into this category, not because they’re mean (they’re not), or huge (hardly), or disgustingly dirty (it’s probably YOUR FAULT if they are). They simply don’t appreciate being

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