Turtles are often misunderstood animals. They are seen to be lazy but are actually doing what they are supposed to do. Before you overlook that turtle at the pet store in favor of some other pet, learn all you can about them.
They are not the swiftest of creatures. Everyone knows the fable of the tortoise and the hare. If you are slow, you are often compared to one. No one wants to be the tortoise or a turtle. But, turtles are actually interesting animals that would make great pets for children or older people who are fascinated by them. Here are some little known turtle facts.
Wow I didn’t know that!
Turtles are interesting. You are about to find that out! Use the information below to decide if you want a turtle as a pet or just use it to amaze your friends.
1. Turtles live for hundreds of years – This fact is mentioned in the movie Finding Nemo. Nemo’s dad meets a sea turtle who has lived for 150 years. In fact, they can live up to 200 years. The average turtle that you have in your home may only live for about 40 years, but if they are hardy, they could outlive you.
2. Turtles and tortoises are different – We call everything a turtle, but in fact, tortoises are the ones that live on land, while the name “turtle” refers to the ones that live in the water. Tortoises have a dome-shaped shell to help them hide from predators. Turtles have a sleek flat shell that makes it easier to glide through the water. And, tortoises are almost exclusively herbivores (plant eaters) while turtles are omnivores (meat and plant eaters).
3. Turtles are found on every continent save one – No matter where you travel you can find a turtle living there. As long as the climate of the region is conducive to their breeding needs, they will live and thrive. The only area where turtles have not been seen is Antarctica.
4. Turtles today are similar to their prehistoric brethren – Turtles have not evolved very much over the last 200 million years. At one time they did have teeth to eat their food and heads that did not retract into their shells. Other than that, you could probably recognize a prehistoric fossil of an early turtle as being similar to the ones found today.
5. Turtles are old – Speaking of prehistoric, turtles were evolving on this earth before birds, snakes, lizards and other mammals.
6. Turtles have lots of bones – That beautiful shell that keeps them safe is actually made up of many smaller bones, 60 to be exact. They are fused together. The top side of the shell is called the carapace while the underside is referred to as the plastron.
You probably didn’t know that turtles were so remarkable. I hope you enjoyed these turtle facts!
When your kids ask for a pet, one of the most easy-going ones you can find is a turtle. But as uncomplicated as they may appear to be, taking care of them requires attention to the needs of this species.
Your kids are excited when you bring home their first pet – a turtle. Turtles are small and don’t do a whole lot that requires a lot of your time. They don’t play catch or need to be walked each day. A child can learn to be responsible for them with a little direction.
But what do they eat?
You may think that you know what to feed your turtle because it is a reptile and it is so small. It couldn’t eat much right? Feeding your pet the wrong foods can ruin their health and make them sick. Read about their nutritional requirements here so you are prepared before you bring your turtle home.
Your turtle needs a well-balanced diet. This does not include feeding them stuff leftover from your dinner. They need meat and vegetables but those made for turtles and not for people.
As a young reptile, turtles eat more often because they are growing. Check with your pet store to see what food they stock for your pet. Their diet generally consists of one quarter meat, one quarter specialized turtle food and two quarters vegetables.
Turtle food can be purchased at pet stores. Try to incorporate it into their meals every day. The meat they eat is not what you would put on your plate. Turtles love to eat mealworms, goldfish, other worms and even small bugs. These can also be found in pet stores if you are not too keen on catching their food yourself.
Use raw greens to round out your turtle’s diet. Try dark green lettuce, dandelion greens, spinach or others that you like.
Don’t forget to give your turtle fresh water. They will have water in their habitat but that is mostly used for getting exercise (swimming). Also, they are also known to urinate and/or defecate in their swim water.
One way to avoid this is to prepare a separate place for your turtle to eat away from where they live. They can be messy when they eat. Sometimes they want to spread it around. They usually go to the bathroom afterwards too, so a second habitat avoids contamination in their swim water.
Be sure to cut up the turtle food as small as possible. They won’t be able to eat large pieces and can end up under-nourished. Use this rule of thumb: If the pieces of food are larger than the turtle’s head, it is too big.
Turtles make great pets for young children who aren’t ready for the responsibility of a bigger animal or those who want a quiet pet in their home.
Kids always want pets to call their own. If you are not so keen on a dog or cat, choose a pet that they can easily take care of with little assistance from you. How about a turtle? Here are some of the most popular types of turtles.
Turtles are amphibians. This means that they are equally at home on land and in the water. They carry their home on their back which makes it quite convenient for moving. Their softer body is integrated into the shell which makes it great for balance. They don’t move fast but they do get where they want to go.
Turtles have a long life span, longer than many think. It is not uncommon for them to live 60 years or more. What a turtle enjoys most is freedom to move. When they have a vast enough surrounding environment to eat, sleep and sunbathe, they are happy.
Turtles make great pets for kids who are just discovering pets because they are quite low maintenance. As long as you provide for their basic needs, they are content.
Turtles do nip and bite. To avoid this spend time with your turtle and allow them to get to know you. They may be apprehensive when you first get them home, but with increased handling they will start to trust you and the biting will lessen if not stop completely.
Popular Turtle Types
1. Terrestrial Turtles
The most common and popular terrestrial turtle is the box turtle. These turtles are green and brown with yellow markings on their shells and underbelly. If you can see their eyes, they are also green in color.
They love grass, dirt and warm temperatures. If you have a fenced in back yard with shade trees, this is the ideal place for them to live. Be sure to create a sunning space for them (like a rock that is easy for them to climb on) to soothe their cold-blooded bodies. Box turtles usually eat small bits of fruit, bugs they can catch and vegetables. They will eat dog and cat food if you give it to them.
2. Aquatic Turtles
Another popular turtle is the slider. It is an aquatic turtle. This means that they are more comfortable in the water than on land. They have greenish brown shells with yellow stripes on their heads. As with box turtles, they can roam free in the back yard as long as you have a fenced in property to protect them from predators for their own safety.
A slider likes any place that is warm and has a permanent water feature. Outdoor ponds with foliage and rocks can suit a slider to a T. keeping the water clean is essential to preventing bacterial problems with their shells. They love to dig in the mud and gravel, so provide loose earth for them to bury themselves in a sunny spot. They often eat whatever they can find like vegetables, worms, small fish and commercial turtle food.
Want a turtle? The two most popular types are box turtles and sliders. Once you gain more experience, you can try raising other types as pets as well.
To learn more about turtles and tortoises, check out Animal-World’s Turtle and Tortoise Care page!