How to Care for a Turtle

There are many different species and breeds of turtles. They could either be of freshwater or salty water. Different breeds might have specific needs and requirements to do with their health, housing, and nutrition. They do have some general needs that are based on their habitat and this is what you must provide for them in terms of how to care for a turtle in the best way possible. 

A turtle’s environment 

Getting a turtle for a pet is somewhat a lifetime commitment as they are known to live for as long as 25 to 50 years of age. Doing enough research on the kind of turtle you want to take for a pet, will enable you to make the right choices for him or her in your time together.

Natural habitat

To make a suitable home for your little friend, you must consider its future body measurements when buying and setting up their terrarium. You may need the help of a pet expert to help you pick out an appropriately sized and hardy glass tub.

You then need to create a simulation of a turtle’s natural habitat. First, you will need to line the bottom of the terrarium with a mixture of sand and soil to give it some soft ground to crawl and sleep on. The level of this layer of soil and sand should come up about 3 inches from the bottom of the tub. Be very careful not to include any gravel as this is a choking hazard to your turtle pet who might gobble it up.

You may then fill the tub with tap water being careful to run a chlorine test to ensure that the levels are conducive for a turtle. You can find more information and tools for this test at your local pet store.


The other thing that turtles love to do is sunbathing. They maintain a healthy balance between being underwater and on land by coming up to the surface regularly to bask under the glaring heat of the sun. while your turtle pet lives in his terrarium, you could provide an elevated rock on one side of its tub for it to climb up to the surface for some sun.

Using artificial light with UV rays in it will come really close to the real thing as it provides Vitamin D which is good for your turtle’s bones. You will need to keep the temperatures about 29 to 32 degrees. You may need to turn it off in the night time but find a way to keep the temperatures well above 60 degrees as warmth is an important factor for a happy turtle.


Turtles are naturally shy animals and do love to retreat into their shell a lot. This is not all they like to do as they also feel the need to hide behind or under objects. Providing a hiding box for them around their basking area where they can disappear to momentarily will be greatly appreciated by your reptilian pet.


The last thing you will need to do is install a water filter that will keep the water clear and free from bacteria that could make your turtle ill. You need to know that turtles live where they defecate and this will require you to sweep through the terrarium with a net daily to clean up the excrements. You must also drain three-quarters of this water every week. The water contains bacteria that enhance your turtle’s environment.

A turtle’s diet 

Turtles could either be omnivorous or herbivorous. For either species, here’s a short summary of a healthy turtle diet. Keep a feeding time limit of 5 minutes as turtles are prone to overeating.

Commercial pelleted food

Widely available across pet stores, there are various brands of turtle food that is specific for them. The difference between turtle pellets and other reptilian pellets is that they do not disintegrate in the water which is what you want to ensure that they can grab the food.

Feeder fish and insects

Fish such as Guppies, Rosy Reds, Minnows and Goldfish are ideal feeder fish for your turtle’s protein diet. You may supplement these options with grasshoppers, crickets, and worms. These foods will provide minerals and vitamins such as calcium, phosphorous and vitamin A.

Fruits and vegetables

For the vegetable diet, you may chop up kale, carrots, dandelion, collards, and zucchini. If possible, you could grab a few sea lettuce, duckweed, and hyacinth to supplement their diet.

Even fruits are greatly recommended and tiny pieces of berries, melons, and apples are a big favorite of turtles.


In every meal, be sure to sprinkle some calcium powder to keep their levels balanced for your turtle. Feeding should be done every 3 to 4 days a week for most turtles but be sure to confirm if this is true for your turtle pet as some may need a daily feeding routine.

Turtle Hazards

The most obvious risk to a turtle is when the shell cracks as this could be fatal to its survival. Knowing this, keep in mind the level at which you hold it off the ground and consider the kind of ground that it could land on. If it falls too hard, too fast, it will break and you don’t want this.

Another great danger associated with keeping a turtle as a pet is the great risk they pose to salmonella bacteria. The turtle droppings contain salmonella germs that don’t affect the turtle but could be life-threatening for everyone and most especially children. Daily sweeps of excrements are a good measure but it will not keep the salmonella from developing. This is why you need to observe some strict rules when it comes to the handling of the turtle pet.

Bonding with Your Turtle

Though turtles are not cuddly animals and tend to be suspicious of human contact, they may in time get to recognize you as their food provider. Having gained their trust, they will let you give them strokes on their shell and head.

To keep you and your family safe from any disease, you need to follow a few guidelines when bonding with your turtle.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water after contact and supervise the same for your kids
  • Don’t snuggle or cuddle turtles


Before you decide to get a pet turtle, you must spend time examining their behavior, needs and preparing their terrarium in terms of tools needed and temperature regulation. With all the information online and most especially from your pet store expert, you will have no problems executing all you must in giving your turtle friend the best care possible.

Kerry Blake

Since I was young, I have always had a thing for sea creatures. Being raised along the beach gave me the chance to interact with all kinds of reptiles, including turtles. I have always found this creature quite fascinating, and at a young age, I asked my parents to get me one as a pet. My love for turtles is what inspired me to pursue marine science when I got to college. Specializing in this field made learning so much about such reptiles. If you would like to get a pet turtle at your home, this guide will be of great help.

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