Monday, May 24, 2010

Pet Turtle Care: How to Buy a Turtle

Pet Tips You Need to Know

Turtles make delightful pets for children, teens and adults. Not only are they fascinating to observe, but they have the added benefit of living for fifty or more years-yes, even a Red-eared Slider four inches long will live half a century! It can be your family mascot for generations. But anyone wanting a turtle should be aware that, contrary to what you might think, turtles actually require a great deal of care. For this reason they might not make the best pet for a young child. But if your child is responsible and won't simply neglect his or her pet when the novelty wears off, and truly has her heart set on one, we will give you some tips on how to buy a turtle.

You can buy turtles all over the place-even in a flea market. Animal shelters sometimes have abandoned turtles as well, though they might be diseased and require the care of a vet. The most recommended places to buy a turtle are in a pet store or from a turtle breeder. These outlets are more likely to house and care for their turtles in a professional, sanitary environment. Just the same, check that their animals aren't being held in grimy tanks under overcrowded conditions.

Also, very importantly, the salespeople at a pet store or breeders will be knowledgeable about turtles and be able to answer the many questions that you should ask before purchasing a pet and bringing it home. For example, you should first ask about the different types of turtles-aquatic, semi-aquatic or land tortoises-and decide which kind is best for you. Once you've settled on the species you want, you'll need to ask what kind of food that particular turtle eats, what kind of living conditions it requires, how often its tank needs to be cleaned out, etc. Be sure to get the exact name of your breed so that you can look it up on the Internet later to find out more feeding and care tips.

Select a turtle with bright eyes that aren't milky looking. Clear eyes are a sign that it's healthy. Don't pick a turtle that has a soft or discoloured shell, or cracked and dry skin, as those are sure signs that the animal is ill. In addition, a healthy turtle should squirm and try to get away when you pick it up, wiggling its little legs and head. (Some turtles carry the disease salmonella, but you can't really tell if your choice is infected or not-so just make sure to always-always!-wash your hands with soap after handling them.) It's also best to buy a young turtle rather than an old one, as a young turtle will be more adaptable and be able to change to a new diet easily. Finally, if your choice appears to be quite little, have the vendor measure it, as it's illegal to sell a turtle less than three or four inches long.

Before actually buying your pet turtle and bringing it home, make sure that you have something to bring it home to. Turtles-especially aquatic breeds like Red-eared Sliders, etc., require a rather complex habitat, and you can't simply bring it home and keep it in a glass bowl for several days. You need to have your pet's happy home set up and waiting for it when it comes in the door. You will need to buy an ample-sized aquarium, some pebbles and plants for the bottom, flat rocks or brick to stack on top of each other (to create a dry area above the water), and turtle food. You will also need to buy a reptile lamp for your pet to bask under, as that's what keeps its shell healthy and firm.

Now you're ready to buy your pet turtle and bring it home!