Freshwater Turtle Care
Fresh water turtles--usually Red Eared Sliders--make interesting and educational pets. Learn how to keep and care for them.
Red-eared sliders, water turtles from the Americas, grow from the size of a half-dollar coin to the size of your foot. All the while, the intricately detailed, colored shells show off your pets for everyone.
These turtles only need feeding once or twice a week and will live a long life if properly cared for. When getting turtles, it's a good idea to try to get females. The males can be more aggressive and are known for snapping and biting. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to tell when these reptiles are young. However, the long claws usually give a female away.
You must always use caution when handling turtles. They can carry salmonella, which can make people sick or even kill a baby or elderly person. Make sure to wash hands thoroughly after handling water turtles. Young, baby turtles are even more apt to carry the bacteria, which one reason they're illegal in the U.S. Turtles must usually be at least three to four inches in length before they can be bought or sold.
These turtles require a basic aquarium setup. Don't get them something too small. Their growth depends on the tank you provide. A 10-20 gallon tank will suffice for two to three young turtles. They need upwards of a 50-gallon tank once mature after a few years.
The basic setup is a pump to circulate the water, a heater to keep the water at about 78 degrees Fahrenheit, and a lamp that will give the turtles ultraviolet light, which they need for their shells. Water should be changed at least every three to four months.
As far as food, most pet stores stock food for water turtles. Get a basin or tub and feed the turtles there to prevent the tank from getting dirty with uneaten food. Turtles are also known to like greens, vegetables, insects, raw hamburger, and wet cat food. These other things are fine, but the turtles' main diet should consist of the sticks or pellets for turtles.