Aquatic Turtle Care: Species Overview
- Common Names: Aquatic Turtles
- Scientific Name: Graptemys spp., Trachemys spp., Pseudemys spp. +
- Distribution: Southeast and Central U.S.A.
- Adult Size: 5-12”
- Life Expectancy: 6-35+ years
Aquatic turtles are among the most popular reptiles kept as pets. Many aquatic turtle species make great pets when cared for properly. Although there are many different types of aquatic turtles in North America, the maintenance and care requirements in captivity are all very similar. It is important to remember that turtles are long-lived animals, and many will live for more than 20 years. Keeping a turtle is a long-term commitment and needs to be considered before purchasing. Please do not release pet turtles into the wild.
Aquatic Turtle Habitat Set-Up
- Hatchling & juveniles will need a minimum of a 20-gallon aquarium.
- Depending on species, adults will need a minimum of a 40-gallon aquarium per pair of turtles.
- Zoo Med’s new Turtle Tub™ is an excellent choice for all aquatic turtles.
- Provide hiding places and basking areas with Zoo Med’s Turtle Dock™ Turtle Hut™, Floating Turtle Log™ and Mopani Wood™
- Provide filtration with Zoo Med’s Turtle Clean™ or 501 or 511 Canister Filters.
- Daytime Terrarium Air Temperature: 75-80° F.
- Basking Spot: 85-90° F Zoo Med’s Turtle Tuff™ Splash-proof Halogen Lamp is the safest and best choice for providing basking heat to your turtles.
- Water Temperature: 78-80° F.
- When positioning the basking areas, choose places where turtles can exit the water, such as on land or over a Turtle Dock™.
- UVB Lighting is essential for aquatic turtles to process calcium in captivity. Lighting provided for 8-10 hours per day is best.
- Without UVB lighting, turtles will develop serious health problems such as Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).
- Zoo Med’s ReptiSun® 5.0 UVB Linear and Compact Fluorescent Lamps are an excellent choice for providing UVB. PowerSun® is an excellent choice to offer both UVB and basking heat. However, take care to keep the lamp away from water.
- We recommend using Zoo Med’s Lamp Stand to mount your heating and lighting devices over your enclosure safely.
- Zoo Med does not recommend using substrates such as sand or gravel for aquatic turtles. These substrates can be accidentally ingested and may cause impaction.
- Land Area: Eco Earth® ReptiBark®, or Forest Floor™ are excellent choices for land areas.
- ReptiSand® mixed with Eco Earth® is a great egg-laying medium for turtles.
About the Aquatic Turtle
- Beyond providing a proper environment and diet for aquatic turtles, they do not need a lot of attention. However, regular interaction may result in a tame and sociable turtle. Turtles, if adequately cared for, should provide years of enjoyment.
- Aquatic turtles need large tanks, special lighting, excellent filtration, and regular cleaning.
Diet and Nutrition
- Most aquatic turtles are omnivores that change their diet throughout their lives.
- Zoo Med’s Aquatic Turtle Food formulated to offer balanced nutrition throughout the changing life stages of your turtle.
- Reptsticks™ is a new floating food that is formulated with both fish and plant matter to simulate the natural diet of aquatic turtles.
- Gourmet Aquatic Turtle Food is a great choice to offer your turtles as a treat or main diet.
- Zoo Med has an entire line of Can O’ Insects that will help you supplement the diet and offer a variety of insects to your turtle.
- Providing a Turtle Bone™ (Cuttlebone) will help maintain proper calcium levels and help support the turtle’s beak.
- Use caution when handling pets and remember they may bite or scratch (especially when stressed).
- Supervise children around pets.
- ALL ANIMALS can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases contagious to humans.
- Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with any pet or its habitat.
- Adults should assist children with handwashing after contact with a pet, its habitat, or aquarium water.