Turtles as pets: Care and concerns – Part 4

A turtle is the perfect pet for beginners to reptiles, and even reptile experts. They are easy and fun pets to have in the house. Here are some tips and tricks for choosing and caring for the pet of your dreams.

Choosing the perfect specimen:

1. First you must decide if you want a male or female- the pet store owner can probably tell you which is which, but here is an easy way to tell. The bottom of there shell tells all. If the bottom is concave (slopes inward) you know you have a male. If the bottom is convex (like a dome) you have a female.

2. Choosing a healthy turtle is crucial! If you buy a turtle sick, it will likely stay sick. Some things to look for in a healthy turtle is a dry nose which indicates a healthy respiratory system. Also the specimen should have a healthy appetite. It is recommended that you ask the pet store owner to feed them (if he/she refuses I would find a different store). The turtle should just pile their whole face into the food! You should also pay close attention to how the turtle moves. Turtles are notorious for being slow, but if it seems to not move at all, it has a problem. And lastly, BUY YOUR TURTLE IN THE SUMMER! Turtles are almost always sick in the winter time and could potentially get sicker with the stress of adapting to a new environment.

Preparing a cage:

1. Space is the most important factor in making a suitable enviornment. Buy an aquarium that will allow the turtle to walk freely and make it feel like its in thw wild!

2. A subtrate (ground covering) is also important. A variety of subtrates can be used such as bark, wood chips, sand, moss, or even pet carpet. One warning though is to be careful with wood chips. Make the chips either very large or very small (less than the size of a pebble). If the chips are medium sized, often the turtle can ingest these causing the chip to swell and kill the turtle.

3. Food and water can be difficult to get just right. For land turtles, the water container should not be big enough for them to get in. It is for drinking purposes only. Neither of the bowls should make the turtle have to reach to get to- get the shallowest bowls you can find. One thing to remember when choosing a food bowl (especially if you have wood chips) is to get one that the is heavy enough so that the turtle can not lift it. If the turtle can lift the bowl, often the food will spill and it might accidentally ingest some subtrate. When feeding your new pet, the best diet you can give it

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