Turtles are not easy or low maintenance reptiles. Generally, turtles (including the commonly found red eared sliders) are messy, long-lived, get quite large (so need large housing), and need exposure to ultraviolet light. If you can deal with these factors and commit to caring for a turtle over its long life span, a turtle might be a good pet for you, but by far the most important factor is knowing the proper dietary and environmental needs of the species you choose.

Aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles are popular as pets. The most well known is probably the red eared slider, although there are several other species which are kept as pets. Turtles have been popular for a long time. Baby red eared sliders were readily available and inexpensive many years ago, which unfortunately resulted in a lot of neglected turtles. They were often sent home with tiny plastic bowls with a little plastic tree (unfortunately these are still sold with turtles in some places). With no filtration system and no room to grow, these little babies didn't have much chance. In the 1970s, the US government banned the sale of turtles less than 4 inches long, once the connection was made between turtles and Salmonella infections, especially in children. It is not that baby turtles carry more Salmonella than larger ones; it is more of a case of children being more likely to handle the smaller turtles (and/or put them in their mouths!).

Sadly, many turtles are still sold to people who have little idea how much care turtles require, including large tanks, special lighting, good filtration and lots of cleaning. Even worse, they are sometimes given out as prizes at fairs and at other events. All too often aquatic turtles die due to stress and neglect - and sometimes they suffer so much stress, overcrowding and neglect during transport and in shops (and fairs) that even if a new owner provides ideal care the turtles may be so ill they die anyway.

Turtles & Children
Turtles are not ideal pets for children. They are not easy to care for, not great for handling, and in addition they often do harbor Salmonella bacteria which can be passed to the children who don't understand the need for careful hygiene. Many children do not have the interest or ability to provide the amount of care and cleaning that a turtle rightfully requires, so parents must realize the responsibility for care ultimately falls to them if the kids lose interest.

Size & Life Span

Many people also do not realize how big aquatic turtles can get. Red eared sliders and a couple of the other commonly available pet species will grow to at least 10-12 inches long and thus will require correspondingly large enclosures. All turtles have the potential to enjoy a very long life span (i.e. several decades!) if cared for properly.

Housing
Aquatic turtles require fairly elaborate housing. They need regular exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, so pricey bulbs designed for reptiles that produce UVA and UVB light are needed for turtle tanks. Without this light, metabolic bone disease (soft shell syndrome) can result. Turtles are messy, and a good filtration unit will be necessary to help maintain water quality, as will regular cleaning. They should have deep enough water to allow swimming, along with a place to get out of the water to bask (heated from above with a basking light.) In addition, appropriate water and ambient temperatures should be maintained.

Feeding
Although turtle foods have come a long way they are not recommended as a sole source of food for aquatic turtles. Most are omnivores (and preferences for different foods might change at different points in the life cycle), and offering a good variety of foods is the best way to feed most turtles. As a rule, feeding turtles in a separate plastic tub will allow the mess associated with feeding to be contained (turtles are messy eaters, and this will reduce the need for tank cleaning a bit) and allow monitoring of food intake of each turtle if multiple turtles are kept.

If You Choose A Pet Turtle

Having said all that, given the right person and the right commitment turtles make beautiful, fascinating, and enjoyable pets. The first step is to research the species available and the care required by each. While the basics of aquatic turtle care are similar for all species, potential owners need to consult specific care sheets for details on housing, environment and feeding for the species in which they are interested.

For beginners, the hardier turtles are recommended, such as red eared sliders, cooters, and mud and musk turtles, keeping in mind that sliders and cooters will reach a mature length of greater than 12 inches, while mud and musk turtles are about half that size. Map and painted turtles, as well as some of the less common species are a bit less hardy. Softshell and snapping turtles have a reputation for being large, aggressive, and generally more difficult to care for so are not good for beginners.

Beyond providing a proper environment and diet for aquatic turtles, they do not need a lot of attention, although regular interaction may result in a tame and sociable turtle. In any case, they are lovely and if properly cared for should provide years of enjoyment.

  • Red Eared Sliders

    Red eared sliders are semi aquatic turtles that are very commonly kept as pets. Unfortunately, lack of understanding what they require means that many red eared sliders have died from improper care. While they are not overly demanding as pets, many unsuspecting owners have been told that it was fine

    Read more
  • Box Turtles

    North American box turtles are mainly terrestrial turtles, although they do spend some time in shallow water (Asian box turtles tend to be a bit more aquatic). Compared to aquatic turtles such as red eared sliders, they are more challenging and complex pets, and are not the best choice for beginning

    Read more
  • Tortoises

    Tortoises can make an interesting pet, although they can present a challenge, due to their size and dietary habits. Their diets vary based on species, but all need quite a variety of foods, with careful attention paid to the amount of roughage as well as calcium/phosphorus balance. Some species have

    Read more

New clients receive 10% off housecall

Call 1.832.948.8007 or fill out the form appointment today

Location


Mailing address ONLY: 6315 B FM 1488 #145 Magnolia, TX 77354

1.832.948.8007

To send medical records, please fax to 832.327.5159 or email to [email protected]

We bring the hospital to you. We are strictly a mobile clinic and do not have a stationary location for you to visit. The address listed is our mailing address, a P.O. box. The mail center will not be able to help you!

Proudly Serving Magnolia, The Woodlands, North Spring, Montgomery, Southwest Conroe, & Tomball

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Soo much easier than trying to load up the animals and get to the vet...and way less stressful. Very satisfied with everything about Crossway."
    Allison L
  • "Great service as always, genuine care is always shown. Pricing is more than reasonable and everything is explained in detail."
    Emily H.
  • "I was very happy with Crossway. I have a cat that is hard to transport and housecalls are the perfect solution. They did a thorough exam and are well equipped for just about anything. I was very impressed. I would recommend them!"
    Lisa H

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

  • Hot Spots and Pets: What You Can Do to Help Your Furry Friend

    Does your pet frequently develop hot spots? Find out how to prevent and treat the painful spots. ...

    Read More
  • Managing Your Pet's Arthritis

    Painful arthritis makes walking and jumping difficult for pets. Luckily, you can do a few things to relieve your pet's pain. ...

    Read More
  • 6 Questions to Ask At Your Senior Pet's Next Check Up

    Want to keep your senior pet healthy and happy? Ask these six questions at your pet's next check up. ...

    Read More
  • Why the Controversy About Pet Vaccinations?

    As with anything, pet vaccinations can be too much of a good thing. Similar to parents who are learning more about vaccinations for children, veterinarians and pet owners alike are beginning to question some of the standard wisdom when it comes to protecting pets. There are certain fatal diseases against ...

    Read More
  • Pet Clothes: A Fashion Statement or a Necessity?

    There is nothing cuter than a pet in a colorful sweater, but do our furry friends really need to wear clothing? Although clothing is not a necessity for every pet, some animals benefit from a little extra protection during cold or damp days. Others enjoy wearing festive clothing during holidays or other ...

    Read More
  • Introducing a New Pet to Your Current Ones

    Pet Proofing Your Home Introducing your new pet to your current one is only a single part of the equation relating to taking a new pet home. You also have to make sure your new pet is comfortable in your home, which is a foreign environment to the animal. Like humans, animals can experience high levels ...

    Read More
  • Put Some Teeth Into Your Pet’s Dental Care

    According to the American Animal Hospital Association, nearly two-thirds of pets suffer from dental problems because their owners do not provide dental care for them. Imagine what would happen to your own teeth if they were never brushed or examined by a dentist. The same thing can happen with your pet’s ...

    Read More
  • Managing Pet Allergies in Kids

    Are you concerned that your child's allergies may mean that you will have to give up your pet? Although rehoming a pet may be necessary if allergies are severe, most children can live with pets if you are willing to make a few changes. The Problem About three in 10 people who have allergies are allergic ...

    Read More
  • Euthanasia: Saying Goodbye

    It's not easy to say goodbye to cherished pets, even those that have lived long, happy lives. Although you may hate the thought of life without your pet, euthanasia can be the kindest decision you can make when your friend is suffering. Making the Decision If your pet has been seriously injured in a ...

    Read More
  • Is a Wet Nose a Sign of a Healthy Pet?

    Have you ever heard that a wet nose is a sign that your pet is healthy? Although that's often the case, it's not always true. A moist nose can benefit your pet in several ways, but it doesn't necessarily guarantee good health. How Does a Wet Nose Help My Pet? Have you ever been woken at 5 a.m. by a cold, ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles