Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pet Turtle Care: How to Design a Turtle Terrarium

A turtle terrarium is ideal if you want to show off your pet and decorate your house at the same time. You will be providing your turtle a habitat, and adding to the natural feel of your home.

Step 1: Get a tank

You will need to get a tank large enough to accommodate your turtle when it reaches its maturity. The minimum turtle terrarium dimensions should be 3-4 times the length of the turtle, twice the length of the turtle in width, and 1.5-2 times the length of the turtle in height. Add 8-12 inches above the highest level the turtle can reach inside the tank so it cannot escape.

If you have more than one turtle, increase the tank dimensions by 40-60% per turtle.

The tank for your turtle terrarium should preferably be Plexiglas, since regular glass produces glare.

Step 2: Prepare the water and land area

Try not to obstruct the water area so that the turtle can swim freely and not bump into or be stuck on decorations. Place the decorations along the corners instead, covering other turtle terrarium equipment like filters.

Turtles love to bask, so they will need land area to rest on. This can be made of acrylic, glass, thick wood, plastic, or a large stone. Anchor the land area above water level, with a ramp sloped so the turtle can climb on.

Avoid sharp edges or decorations that will block the turtle's path. Also, do not use gravel or other materials that are less than 2 centimeters in diameter.

Step 3: Make sure the water you use is clean

Turtles spend a lot of their time in the water. It is where they swim, eat, drink, and release their waste. Over time, the water will become dirty, and this will make the turtle susceptible to diseases if left unchanged.

Changing the tank water in a turtle terrarium is a tedious job, and is recommended to be done every 45 days, at least. To keep the water clean between each change, you can use a water filtration system instead.

You can also add a teaspoon of salt in every 4-5 liters of water to prevent harmful bacteria, and shell and skin diseases.

Step 4: Decorate the tank

Make the turtle's habitat a bit more homely by adding decorations to it instead of leaving it bare.

Remember to wash and sterilize things you pick up from the road before you put them in the tank. Do not add decorations that are sharp, pointed, or so small that the turtle can swallow them.

You can add commercial decorations, driftwood, gravel, plants, shells, and stones to your turtle terrarium.

Step 5: Provide proper lighting

Turtles also love to bask, which is why you will need to fit a heating or basking light onto the tank. There are several basking lights available in stores. When you install the lights, make sure they focus on the land area where the turtle will rest.

Aside from heat, turtles also need UV light rays for their calcium metabolization. UV lamps are also available in stores.

Step 6: Situate the tank in a convenient corner

Do not place the tank beside a window. Even though turtles need natural sunlight, windowpane glasses filter 95% of the UV rays. Exposing the tank water to direct sunlight will also cause algae to grow faster, which means you will have to change the water more frequently.

After you have followed those simple steps, your turtle terrarium is now ready. But before you put in your turtle, test the environment first by letting small fish live in the water for a while. This is to check if the water is clean and free of diseases. If all is OK, you can set your turtle inside the tank.