Turtles make excellent pets. However, they require specialized care. If you are planning to acquire domestic turtles, keep these four tips in mind when creating your aquatic enclosure.
1. Circulate and Oxygenate the Water
Turtles thrive in circulated and oxygenated water. Circulation prevents the build-up of unwanted algae and foul odors. While turtles do not strictly require oxygenated water, oxygenation provides essential support to the aquatic plants and supplemental fish often found within turtle enclosures. Pond aerators and fountains are excellent circulation and oxygenation solutions.
2. Keep Predators Out
Turtles kept in outdoor ponds face the risk of local predators. Thankfully, there are ways to defend your turtles against predators. Encircle the enclosure with a fence that is embedded at least one foot into the ground; this will deter digging, climbing, and scavenging ground predators from sneaking inside. Use netting to prevent large airborne predators from nabbing your turtles from above. Regular cleaning and aeration will help control biting and stinging insect populations.
3. Provide Sun and Shade
Turtles require type B ultraviolet (UVB) light. UVB light promotes the production of vitamin D3, which is an essential component of shell health, bone health, digestive health, and calcium retention. Sunlight provides both UVB light and basking warmth. However, too much sunlight and warmth can leave your turtles dehydrated and overheated. Vary the lighting within your enclosure. Keep part of it exposed to sunlight, and use a combination of large, leafy plants and built-in overhanging structures to provide your turtles with shade.
4. Have a Backup Plan
Sometimes, things go wrong during aquatic husbandry. Always have a backup plan. If you have an outdoor pond, keep a small indoor tank in your garage that you can use during inclement weather or predator-related emergencies. Make sure to stock up on a few gallons of distilled water so you can quickly fill your backup tank without having to run to the store or treat your tap water.
Your turtles deserve the best enclosure possible. Keep them safe and healthy with these four enclosure-related aquatic husbandry tips.