Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pet Turtle Care: The New Turtle Tub Experience - Herpetologist Approved

Many are zoned in on the pond experience, and well they should because it is a natural setting for turtles and reptiles alike. It consists of a swimming area and a nesting area.

The Typical Aquarium

Typically owners of aquariums develop there own styles of systems which include a swimming area and a nesting area. The simplest and lowest cost method is to change an aquarium to a pool-nesting combo. A piece of glass is siliconed in between the sides of the aquarium. This provides a swimming area and a nesting area, just by siliconing a piece glass in place.

The Turtle Tub: Pond Experience

The second most popular method is to abandon the aquarium setting altogether and use a tub that is either made with partitions in it, or owners again develop their own style of partition.

A third alternative is to actually combine the two systems into one. I will talk about the third system in a minute, but I want to discuss the first two in a little bit more detail so we understand the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Each System

The aquarium system is nice because it allows a visual of the turtles or reptiles from the side. Not all animals appreciate the viewing of themselves, water dragons for example, but most are not affected too badly by it. You will find that animals have personalities and if treated right, the visual experience is not hurting them.

Some times a reptile likes to retreat, so a hollowed out log, or a rock with a space behind it offers a "get away" or a concealment for the pet. The aquarium systems can offer this variety, but have a distinct down fall, and that is water changes and overall cleanliness of the aquarium. Cleaning the environment is very important for pet health and it must be done frequently.

Any pet owner worth his salt working with an aquarium system must devote at least an hour to cleaning and reassembling the aquarium tank system. Just in case you are wonder, wont a filtration system work? Yes it will, but the water still needs to be changed.

Mega Turtle Tank

The turtle tank, or mega turtle tub has been developed that offers the pond experience. This particular design basically removes the drudgery of siliconing in a partition. It allows one side to be a pool and the other side to be a nesting area. The down side is that the tub is only useful for viewing from above. So the tub must be placed on the floor for viewing. Additionally, placing the unit on the floor is not optimal especially for pet enthusiasts who want to conserve space, and also use the conventional aquarium systems.

Aquarium systems again have their benefits, and they are primarily the fact of space and aesthetics: ie it is not an eyesore. Everyone has seen a fish tank in a doctors office, or even in a home. The bottom line is they look like a piece of furniture, not a sore thumb sitting in the middle of the floor.

The Optimum Turtle Tub

So the optimum situation would be to use an aquarium as the setting. Have it provide both the swimming and the nesting area. Trouble is that siliconing in a partition makes cleaning difficult.

Several reptile enclosure accessories have come up with ideas that include the tank. Usually the idea is something that straddles the tank. There is another idea however that used, such as floating logs for basking.

The third idea involves a pool converted into a basking area. Kind of like a floating island for basking. In other words, the reptile can nest on an island while swimming around it, or next to it. This can be accomplished by using pool as a nesting area, and the rest of the aquarium as a pool. The ease of maintenance is much simpler this way. The pool can be removed, and then the tank can be drained (or even use conventional filtration systems), while the nesting section is removed and placed on the side.

Once the tank is cleaned, the nesting section can be put back in place.

So to recap,

There are three methods:

1. Aquarium Tank Siliconed Partitioned Nesting Section
2. Turtle Tub Enclosure
3. Aquarium and Nesting Section

All three methods have their merits, but the third seems to combine the best of both worlds: viewing, aesthetics and cleaning.

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.