Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pet Turtle Care: Protecting Sea Turtles

Pet Turtle Care

Sea turtles are being protected around the world. National parks are set up along with farms and other organizations that are attempting to protect them. Sea turtles are a difficult animal to protect though because of their migratory habits. They aren''t the kind to stay in one place, and they only come ashore to nest. Most males will never come out of the water once they enter the ocean as a hatchling. The only time they may be seen out of the water is if they are basking in the sun.
Tagging and conservation is a big part of protecting the sea turtles. Tagging helps see the patterns where females are nesting, and helps determine migratory habits.

In Mexico we got to be a part of the protection of the sea turtles. Down the beach from where we were staying was a park protecting the sea turtles. The rangers were there and described sea turtles to us. They told us they were endangered, so they were protecting them. Also, moving the eggs to a safe environment would protect them from predators. Only about one in every thousand that hatch actually survives in the wild, so getting as many to hatch as possible is a good thing.

We got to hold the turtles, and then went down to the water when it got dark out. They took the baby turtles down there too. We all stood in a line where the water just reached us. They gave everyone 2 or 3 baby sea turtles that we let go into the water. None of us were able to move after we let them go because not all of them made it to the water right away. It was a neat experience to see that many baby sea turtles going into the water.

In Costa Rica they also have a park that is protecting the sea turtles. We were able to actually stay at the reserve as volunteers this time though. The volunteers get to go along on the beach patrols. Every night all night someone is patrolling the beaches to make sure every nesting female is tagged, and that they nest is accounted for. They want to know how many eggs are laid, and everything about the nesting female.

If the female hasn''t already been tagged, the ranger or a volunteer will tag the female. This is done with a hand held gun which is similar to piercing your ear. They always check the female first with a transmitter to see if she has been tagged though.

There is a whole sheet of paper work to fill out when a nesting female is seen. They fill out where she was, the date, the time, and how she came to the shore. They want to know everything, so all the paper work must be filled out correctly.

At this park, there is also a hatchery the eggs are taken to. This is the same type of thing as in Mexico, where they are giving every turtle the best chance possible for survival.

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Pet Turtle Care: Common Turtle Species

Pet Turtle Care

Turtles are cold-blooded reptiles. They have a shell making them unique from other reptiles. Their upper shell is called the carapace, and a lower shell that protects the belly called the plastron. The carapace and plastron shape and color varies from species to species. One might think it would at least always be a hard shell, which also is untrue. There are softshell turtle species, along with many others.

Some turtle species include Clemmys insculpta which is the wood turtle; Geochelone sulcata which is the African Spurred tortoise; Chelonia mydas which is the green turtle; Emydoidea blandingii which is the Blanding''s turtle; Clemmys guttata which is the spotted turtle; Malaclemys terrapin which is the diamondback terrapin; and Trachemys s. elegans which is the red-eared slider.

The species name for the wood turtle is Clemmys insculpta. This turtle is the largest in its genus. The carapace has raised projections on the back that resemble a small pyramid, making it different from others in the Clemmys genus.

The wood turtle is omnivorous and eats things like algae, moss, blueberries, mollusks, insects, earthworms, and mice. Typically adult males are larger than adult females, but not by a whole lot.

The species name for the African Spurred tortoise is Geochelone sulcata. The African Spurred Tortoise is the only tortoise in the world that has adapted fully for terrestrial life. The turtle is famous for digging burrows to protect itself from predators and the temperature. This turtle can go weeks without food or water. When the turtle does get a chance to drink water though, it can drink up to 15% of its body weight.

The species name for the green turtle is Chelonia mydas. Adult green turtles have a different diet than juvenile green turtles. Adults are herbivores eating plants and juveniles are carnivores eating meat. Adults usually spend their time in patches of sea grass and algae to get their food, while juveniles spend their time among the coral reef. Adults preferred food is young leaves and roots of sea vegetation. Juveniles eat animals such as jellyfish, sponges, snails, bivalves, and others.

This turtle is a medium to large sea turtle that has a broad, low, heart-shaped carapace.

Most of their lives are spent in the water but females return to the land to lay their eggs. The eggs take about two months to incubate, and then hatch. As most turtles are, green turtles possess environmental sex determination. Temperature of the nest determines the sex of the hatchling. Warmer temperatures produce females, and cooler temperatures produce males.

Green turtles are found throughout the oceans of the world. Populations are endangered or threatened everywhere.

The Blanding''s turtle is a northern turtle that has a black carapace with tan to yellow spots on the scutes. Its species name is Emydoidea blandingii. Sometimes this turtle is confused with the box turtle because of similar appearances.

This turtle lives in clean, shallow water habitats. They like abundant aquatic vegetation, and firm aquatic bottoms in ponds, lakes, marshes, and creeks. However, preferences in habitat can change seasonally and by location. In Wisconsin, the Blanding''s turtle prefers marshes over ponds, which is just a location preference. Turtles elsewhere may choose a pond over a marsh.

This turtle nests once a year usually from late-May to early July during the night. However, not every female nests every year.

The common name for Clemmys guttata is the spotted turtle. This is a small, black turtle that has a pattern on its smooth carapace with small yellow spots. Over time the spots may fade, making older turtles appear spotless.

Male spotted turtles tend to have tan chins with brown eyes differing from the females who tend to have yellow chins and orange eyes.

These turtles live in areas that are shallow wetlands. This can consist of swamps, bogs, fens, and marshes, but not confined to just these areas.

Spotted turtles are active during they day for the most part, meaning they are diurnal. However, females are active at night while they are nesting.

Spotted turtles are preyed upon by bald eagles, skunks, and raccoons.

The species name for the Diamondback Terrapin is Malaclemys terrapin. This turtle is a small to medium size turtle which feeds on sponges, bryozoans, gastropods, crabs, carrion, and plant material.

They have a hingeless plastron which can be yellow to green or black, and an oblong carapace is gray, light brown or black. They can be found in estuaries and salt marshes.

Nesting for these turtles is different from a majority of turtles because it is during the day. Most turtles tend to nest during the night. High tide is the most usual time for this particular turtle to nest.

The red-eared slider is native to the United States. It is commonly found in the Southern regions. The species name for it is Trachemys s. elegans.

When the red-eared slider is young it is carnivorous, but as it ages they become more vegetarian. They are a medium size and have a dark green oval shell. Their legs are green with think yellow stripes. The head is also green, but it has a red stripe behind the eye.

These turtles are found in most permanent slow-moving bodies of water. They prefer areas with mud bottoms.

Pet Turtle Care: FDA Warns Consumers Not to Buy Pet Turtles

Pet Turtle Care

What do 1,000 yellow-bellied sliders and Mississippi map turtles have to do with public health? They can make people very sick.

Strictly Reptiles Inc., a wildlife dealer in Hollywood, Fla., sold 1,000 baby yellow-bellied sliders and Mississippi map turtles to a souvenir shop in Panama City, Fla., violating a Food and Drug Administration ban on small pet turtles designed to protect the public from the disease-causing bacteria Salmonella, the agency says.

Turtles often carry Salmonella on their outer skin and shell surfaces, and people can get Salmonella infection by coming in contact with turtles or their habitats.

"The illegal sale of these pet turtles put one of our most vulnerable populations -- children -- at risk for becoming very sick," said Philip Walsky, assistant special agent in charge in FDA's the Office of Criminal Investigations headquarters office.

All reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes) and amphibians (frogs, salamanders) are commonly contaminated with Salmonella. The bacteria do not make these animals sick, but they can make people ill and even be life-threatening to children, elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Small pet turtles are of particular concern because children are more prone to handling the turtles without washing their hands afterwards, and even putting the turtles in their mouths.

In 1975, FDA banned the sale of small pet turtles -- those with shells less than four inches long. Infectious disease specialists estimate that banning small turtles prevents 100,000 Salmonella infections in children each year in the United States. The ban excludes small turtles when they are used for educational, exhibitional, or scientific purposes -- not as pets.

Despite the ban several widespread outbreaks of Salmonella infection related to undersized turtles have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recent years.

In 2007, two teenaged girls in South Carolina became very ill with bloody diarrhea, cramps, fever, and vomiting after they swam in an unchlorinated, in-ground pool where the family's pet turtles had also been allowed to swim.

The same strain of Salmonella found in the teenaged girls was also found in 101 other people in 32 states who were reported ill between early May 2007 and mid-January 2008, according to CDC. When 80 of these people were questioned, 47 of them confirmed that they had been exposed to a turtle during the seven days before they got sick.

In February 2007, the tragic death of a four-week-old baby in Florida was linked to Salmonella from a small pet turtle.

The owner of Strictly Reptiles admitted to OCI agents that he intentionally did not ask customers their purpose for purchasing the turtles in order not to lose sales.

On March 3, 2008, Strictly Reptiles sold about 1,000 undersized turtles to a souvenir business for $2.75 to $3.00 each. The souvenir business, in turn, sold the undersized turtles for $14.99 each.

At sentencing, the court ordered a criminal fine of $5,000, the forfeiture of more than 6,300 turtles, and two years' probation that allows federal agents to inspect sales records of all Strictly Reptiles' live turtles.

The court further ordered Strictly Reptiles to obtain a signed document from every buyer of undersized turtles that indicates the buyer is aware of the legal restrictions placed on the sale, or holding for sale, of these turtles.

1. Don't buy small turtles for pets or as gifts.

2. If your family is expecting a child, remove any pet turtle (or other reptile or amphibian) from the home before the infant arrives.

3. Keep turtles out of homes with children under five years old, elderly people, or others with weakened immune systems.

4. Do not allow turtles to roam freely through the house, especially in food preparation areas.

5. Do not clean turtle tanks or other supplies in the kitchen sink. Use bleach to disinfect a tub or other place where turtle habitats are cleaned.

6. Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching a turtle, its food or housing, or anything else that comes in contact with a turtle or its habitat.

7. Be aware that Salmonella infection can be caused by contact with turtles in petting zoos, parks, child day care facilities, or other locations.

8. Watch for symptoms of Salmonella infection, such as diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, and headache. Call your doctor if you or your family have any of these symptoms.

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Pet Turtle Care: Making A Reptile Terrarium for Your Pet Turtle

Pet Turtle Care

A reptile terrarium suitable for an aquatic turtle can be made from an aquarium by adding about six inches of water and making a land area above the water. The land area can be built up from rocks or suitable aquarium decorations and should have a reptile lamp above it to provide heat.

Setting up the Terrarium

The Tank

Make sure you buy an aquarium that is big enough. At least a forty gallon tank is required for an adult turtle. Add about six inches of chlorine and chloramine free water and set up a filter and aquarium heater. External filters are preferable, as turtles can be remarkably curious and may cause themselves damage by investigating an internal heater. In addition turtles produce a great deal of waste so a powerful filter is needed. Hide the heater under some rocks to keep it out of harm''s way. It may not respond so rapidly to changes in temperature but that is preferable to causing distress or injury to your pet.

Use a water treatment solution sold in aquarium shops to remove both chlorine and chloramine which are added to water by your water authority. Turtles may eat sand or gravel so do not use these on the bottom of the tank and it will be easier to clean the glass bottom.

You can place a few artificial plants in the swimming area but avoid adding too many or your turtle will not have room to swim around. Do not use live plants as the turtle will eat them. To be healthy you need to make sure the water is clean so ensure the filter works correctly and clean the tank weekly.

The Land Area

The land area can be made from artificial rocks or decorations from a terrarium supply shop or use well cleaned rocks or bricks. An area where the turtle can hide is also needed so make a small artificial cave from rocks, wood or artificial terrarium decorations. Keep the temperature around 80F in the daytime cooling down to around 79F during the night.


Attach both a UVB lamp and a full spectrum lamp to the lid. Turtles need UVB radiation in order to keep their bones and shell in good condition. UVB lamps are expensive and generally last only around six months but they are necessary to keep your turtle healthy. Turtles also need sunlight for at least twelve hours a day. You can also provide a basking lamp above the land area.

Aquarium lids are not really suitable as you need to attach the lamp to the lid. A plank of wood, suitable painted on the outside only can be use instead.

Turtles will also need a source of fresh water so place a small pan of water in the land area. You might think there is enough water around but the turtle will soon foul the swimming area!

Feeding Your Turtle

Commercially prepared turtle sticks can be used to feed your turtle. Mix in fruit and vegetables occasionally for variety . You can also give your pet leafy vegetables such as alfalfa, clover, lettuce and cabbage and an assortment of berries. Do not overfeed and remove any uneaten food before it starts to rot.

Pet turtle Care: Turtles A Truly Unique and Interesting Pet

Pet turtle Care

Turtles can be great pets and it''s a fact that children love turtles as their pets. These animals are very fascinating. And there are several types of them too.

If you decide to take a turtle for your pet, try to learn more about these animals first. They require proper care and a certain level of attention. There are some species that can be taken cared of by humans while there are others can''t be taken away from their natural habitats.

Generally speaking, there are two types of turtles that you can take home - the aquatic and the terrestrial types. Terrestrial turtles need a lot of time on land while aquatic turtles need to be in water most of the time. It is important that you know which type of turtle you''ve got so you can take care of it properly.

For terrestrial turtles, you have to prepare a big tank and some mud. Mud turtles need twelve hours worth of sunlight every day. If you can''t take them outside, use a UV lamp instead. Terrestrial turtles also need to be in a place with a temperature of 80 degrees during the day and 70 at night. And while these pets prefer the land, they also need fresh water to drink and swim about.

As for the aquatic turtles, the common species are the painted turtles and the sliders. The sliders want swampy areas. They live near the lakes that have lots of mud. They tend to go out in the sun in broad daylight and then swim during the night to cool off. But then, they still have to spend more time submerged in the water than out in the sun. Between the sliders and the painted turtles, the latter is the specie that is a lot harder to take care of because of the special things it needs.

At this point, you should have decided on the type of turtle you want. The next thing to think about is the size of the tank you''ll buy. You normally need a 40 gallon tank - or larger if you want a larger specie or if you want to take care of more than one turtle. The bigger the tank you have, the better your pet can move around in the water and over the land.

Plants are required, but you have to be sure that they''re not poisonous. Don''t put barks and wood chips in the tank either, as bacteria and molds might form on them. Turtles tend to munch on these things too, although their digestive tract can''t handle it. Instead, add some small rocks and mud for the turtle to play on.

As for food, your pet would need berries, lettuce, and some feed sticks. Some species eat goldfish and insects too. You also have to be very particular about the water these pets drink and swim on. Use mineral or spring water instead of tap water in the tank.

The chemicals and chlorine in tap water can be very harmful to your turtle pet. Chlorine and other chemicals in the tap water can cause bacteria in their digestive systems.

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Pet Turtle Care: Turtle Watching in Northern Cyprus

Pet Turtle Care

You may think you know everything there is to know about the island of Cyprus, but chances are that you are thinking of the tourist friendly south with its sandy beaches and towering hotel blocks. A holiday in Northern Cyprus is completely different and visitors are flocking to this region for a relaxing break, where they can experience the regions incredible wildlife, from the ample birdlife to the turtles which are indigenous to this area.

Turtle Watching in Northern Cyprus

Divers from all over the world book holidays in Northern Cyprus to see the colourful fishes of the area and it seems that the region?s rich marine life is also responsible for introducing sea turtles to Northern Cyprus. These enigmatic creatures were once found all over beaches in the Mediterranean, but the artificial lights of modern hotel developments and nightclubs confuse the baby turtles that naturally make their way towards the moon on hatching from their mother?s eggs. The animals now face near extinction, but whilst on your holiday in Northern Cyprus you can see these incredible baby animals for yourself and help get involved in their plight.

The best beach in Northern Cyprus to spot sea turtles is the Alagadi Beach, located near Girne on the Karpaz Peninsula. This beach has been declared a protected area for both the green and loggerhead turtles that lay their eggs in the sand here during the month of May. The baby turtles hatch two months later in July, where they will make their way towards the moon and into the warm Mediterranean Ocean where they will reunite with their parents.

Alagadi Beach, is located just ten minutes away from the main tourist resort of Kyrenia and can be easily reached on your Northern Cyprus holiday. Tourists are welcome to observe the turtles at any time, but there are plenty of organisations that you can join if you want to help with their conservation during your holiday to Northern Cyprus. The Society for the Protection of Turtles or SPOT carries out nightly surveys of hatching activity during the month of July. If you get involved with this charity during your Northern Cyprus holiday then you could find your evenings spent observing hatching sights and releasing baby turtles into the sea. This is extremely rewarding and a great way to give something back to the local community.

If you just wish to observe the turtles whilst on holiday in Northern Cyprus then there are a number of rules and precautions that you need to take, particularly around the area of Alagadi Beach. These precautions have been introduced by the Department of Environmental Protection and should be observed during the turtles breeding months of May to October. One such precaution prohibits the throwing of plastic carrier bags into the ocean as baby turtles often mistake these for jelly fish and attempt to eat them, resulting in death. The use of artificial lights and speedboats are also banned for obvious reasons.

With just one baby turtle surviving out of 1,000 eggs it is extremely important that these measures are put in place in order to prevent the sea turtle population from extinction. A holiday in Northern Cyprus can be an extremely rewarding affair which allows you to contribute towards the welfare of the sea turtle whilst relaxing in the breathtaking scenery of this historic region.

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