Friday, May 28, 2010

Pet Turtle Care: Turtle Care For a Red Eared Slider

Care of turtle pet

If you're thinking of getting a turtle, know that a red-eared slider makes a wonderful pet. It has green skin with bright yellow markings, and the namesake red mark behind its eye. Red-eared sliders are surprisingly complex, however, which is why it's recommended that an adult - not a child - be responsible for their care. Like all aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles, the main ingredients of their care are warmth, clean water and being fed the correct diet. This article will give you an introduction to the basics of turtle care for red eared slider.

First of all, it's good to be aware that although they are only one inch long when they hatch, they can grow up to 12 inches in length as adults-so you can't just place them in any small glass fish tank. They will grow. This takes time, of course, since they live 50-70 years, but they reach sexual maturity at 2-4 years and will already be quite large by then. An adult red-eared slider generally needs a 55-gallon aquarium.

The air temperature in the aquarium should be 75 degrees F, and the water temperature should be between 75-86 degrees F. You will probably need a reptile lamp to maintain the air temperature and a submersible heater to keep the water warm. If the water is too cold your turtle will develop digestive and other health problems. On the flip side, don't place the tank in a place where it receives direct, constant sunlight, or your turtle could overheat.

Young red-eared sliders are strictly carnivorous but become omnivores as they become older, and will require a balanced diet of meat and vegetables. Meat like lean, raw beef or cooked chicken is good and should supplement commercial turtle pellets and green, leafy vegetables. Turtles are messy eaters so it's best to move them to a separate container to eat. Please note: they must be in water to eat. Allow them to eat for 15 minutes before moving them back to their tank. Juveniles should be fed daily but older turtles can be fed every two days.

The aquarium water needs to be changed on a regular basis; otherwise the water will fill up with decomposing food scraps and turtle feces and urine. Not only will this present a health hazard to your pet, but will look unsightly and smell. If you feed your turtle in a separate container, you prevent them from fouling their habitat so quickly, and you will only need to clean the tank weekly. In this cleaning you should siphon off from 25-50% of the water and "vacuum" away debris then refill the tank with clean, warm water. The entire tank should be drained, thoroughly cleaned and refilled every 1-2 months.

If you wish to pick your pet turtle up and hold it, grip it firmly with both hands. Dropping your red-eared slider will seriously injure it or could even prove fatal. In addition, if it becomes frightened, it might scratch or bite. For these reasons, a child under 5 years of age should never handle the turtle. Also, carefully wash your hands with soap after holding your pet to prevent the possibility of contracting salmonella.

Turtles are not that expensive to buy, but their care involves an ongoing investment of time and money. It costs something to feed them properly and to take them to the vet when they're ill. It's important to monitor them for signs of illness but even more important is to be consistent and careful in their daily care so that you hopefully prevent them from becoming sick in the first place. The investment, if you're willing to make it, pays large dividends in that it allows you to watch the antics of a most interesting pet for many years.