Understanding Turtles

  • Turtle – On Wikipedia.
  • San Diego Zoo on Turtles – A wonderful write up about Turtles & Tortoises.
  • First reconize Tortoises (land based), Turtles (fresh water) and Sea Turtles (Salt water/Marine) are different.
  • Turtles have been around for 220 million years!
  • Turtles are amniotes – they breathe air, lay their eggs on land and live in or around water.
  • There are 356 known turtle species with around 120+ species are endangered
  • The study of turtles is called cheloniology (greek origin), or testudinology (latin origin).
  • They are omnivores.
  • They are cold blooded creatures which means they need a temperature controlled environment.

Before you get into Pet turtles

  • They need daily attention.
  • Frequent water changes as they are very sensitive.
  • Beware: Indian turtles are banned from use as pets.
  • Beware: Only captivity bred turles from overseas like the Red eared slider are allowed.
  • Beware: Turtles are known to spread Salmonellosis  especially in kids (and adults) if hygenie procedures are not followed.   

Must see videos

Skills to learn to manage Turtles

  1. Understanding Turtles as reptiles in general.
  2. Knowing the local law and which turtles are allowed as pets. 
  3. Understanding the environment impact of invasive turtle species (country/region specific).
  4. Learn how large the turtles can grow and how much space is needed for them to be comfortable.
  5. Knowing the needs of turtles (Space, temperature, comfort, UV, water, basking).
  6. Being aware of  diseases that humans can contract from turtles and their symptoms. Staying safe from disease through hygiene precautions.
  7. Learning what makes for a good turtle habitat. Also the skill of maintaining the habitat periodically.
  8. Knowing what food they can eat and the food options available in the market.
  9. Understanding Turtle accessories, the vendors and the options available.
  10. Working out one-time and recurring expenditure towards turtle maintenance.
  11. Engaging, Feeding and Observing the turtle.
  12. Knowing the anatomy of a turtle.
  13. Understand symptoms of common turtle diseases (in Hindi), their causes, impact, first aid  and treatment.
  14. Locating the nearest veterinarian who has expertise with turtles.
  15. Knowing the local and online forums for peer support.

Things you will need

  1. A Terrarium, Aquarium or  or a large plastic container suitable for turtles. 
  2. A basking area, either part of terrarium or made seperately.
  3. An underwater filter.
  4. A submersible heater to maintain temperature.
  5. Two flexible lamps for lighting and heating with UVA and UVB bulbs. Choose the right wattage for the bulbs.
  6. A good thermometer to measure temperature of water and the basking area.
  7. Turtle food.
  8. A couple of glass or plastic bowls for use as feeding area.
  9. A temporary plastic bowl (relatively much smaller than habitat) for housing the turtles during cleaning.
  10. Turtle medicines for quick first aid.
  11. Gloves to ensure you are safe while handling turtles.
  12. A small turtle enclosure that is mobile and covered to trasnport to the Vet.

A sample shopping list for you to get started quickly.

Setting up a Habitat

Daily routine

You need to develop a daily routine for your turtle. Here are a few routines…

Websites & Portals

  • AllTurtles – A great resource for understanding turtles.
  • WikiHow – Great How-to articles on Turtle care.
  • Turtleholic – A very useful site with guides and experience. Run by a turtle lover. 
  • Turtle conservancy – They focus on turtle awareness, habitat protection, conservancy worldwide.

Expert advise (Youtube)

Vendors for Accessories

Avoiding health issues

  1. Ensuring turtles are Active and feed regularly.
  2. Clean water with good filtration. Turtles are messy by nature.
  3. Right water temperature, as turtles are cold blooded.
  4. Dry Basking area to keep them dry to dry their shells.
  5. Access to sun for 15 mins or many hours of UVA lights.
  6. UVB light is a must. Source of Vitamin D3.
  7. Ensure Balanced nutrition and Vitamins – protein pellets, greens (Vitamin K), allowable veggies like carrots, cucumber (Vitamin A). 
  8. Turtles are omnivores, cater to it.
  9. Calcium is key to growing their shell. (Kale or Spring greens).
  10. Be clear about veggies to avoid.

Turtle Health

Turtle Vets in India

Turtle Species in India



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