Turtle Care 101: A Complete Guide To Nurture Your Turtle

Turtles are always exciting to watch due to their fascinating colors and beautiful markings. Without a doubt, they are one of the most engaging pets. They have appealing personalities and are known for their endless hunger for the food and recognizing their owners.

As a beginner, if you are willing to purchase a turtle, you need to learn many things about their habits, their care, and the way you need to handle them. Actually, turtles don’t like to be handled. They love spending time alone. They can live up to 20 to 30 years if treated properly. You might have to invest more if you are considering keeping a turtle as your pet in contrast to keeping a cat or a dog. This article will guide you to nurture your turtle well.

Setting Up Your Turtle’s Home

Initially, you should set up a right home for your turtle, keeping in mind that they like a semi-aquatic environment. Turtles, based on their size, require an aquarium with 5 to 20 gallons of water. You should prepare your aquarium according to your breed, keeping in mind how much it can grow.

  • Provide your aquarium with a screened lid to allow air passage.
  • You may also create a sloped area above the water level using aquarium gravel.
  • To provide a mixture of wet and dry habitat place some rocks so that turtles can sun and warm. Be careful about cleaning the stones regularly with untreated water.
  • Wooden blocks or bricks can also be used to give them a land area. Keep the surface slopped towards the water to provide them with easy access to it. Moreover, the fungus can grow up so quickly with such materials, either clean them frequently or avoid these type of material.
  • You can utilize plastic and clay for shelter.
  • For decoration, plants can be used, but keep your eye open if your turtle eats them and get sick. It is advised to use artificial plants instead.

How To Keep Your Turtle Healthy?

A tortoise is a turtle, a turtle is not a tortoise and a terrapins are turtles that spend time both on land and in swampy water.

Jack the Sulcata Tortoise (10 years old) munches on some grass. A tortoise is a turtle but a turtle is not a tortoise.

Your turtle may take three or four days to settle into the new home. If you observe any unnatural activity, do concern a specialist. If your turtle is spending more time hiding, taking minimal food or drink, suffer from weight loss, skin discoloration or swollen joints, or having discharge from eyes and nose, it’s an alerting sign. It may have been affected by a virus or disease. Firstly clean the pond or tank, change the water and wash it gently with soap. Moreover, proper lighting and moderate temperature are required as turtles are very sensitive.

1. Essential Lighting

One of the most crucial aspects turtle owners often neglects proper lightening and adequate temperature. For proper growth, health and nourishment turtles need highly controlled temperature and lightning.

They require two types of ultraviolet rays; UVA and UVB for healthy growth. UVA keep their reproduction and feeding system fit, and UVB ensure the absorption of calcium by the synthesis of vitamin B3. Like all the other reptiles, they are also ectotherm needing different temperature zones to regulate the body temperature accordingly.

2. Maintaining Temperature

Keep the temperature of water in between 72 to 77 F. The temperature of wet areas in the habitat should be maintained from 75 to 85 F and for the dry side with a basking site, it must be from 85 to 90 F. However in the night, you may turn off the basking light and temperature can be reduced to 65F.

You may use different types of bulbs that can full fill the UVA and UVB requirements and place temperature maintaining and measuring instruments to keep the habitat friendly for your turtle.

3. Nutrients Needed For Your Turtle

If it is a reptile with a shell, you can call it a turtle. Even if it's a Tortoise.

Jack the Sulcata Tortoise (African Spurred Tortoise), enjoying a treat. These tortoises can grow to 100 lbs and live to be 70 years or older.

A pet owner should be preventive when it comes to feeding a turtle. Keep a good balance in the diet. Offer a variety of food from plant matters some worms. You should feed your turtle 2 or 3 times a week. However, it depends upon the type of your animal. You are required to a bit research on the particular breed you have.

What to Feed?

Turtles are primary carnivores. You should feed them with, mealworms, snails and small fishes in the beginning but as they move towards their adult age, they like more plant matters. You may then feed them with turnip, watermelons, etc.

Turtles also like green-leaf and red-leaf lettuce, dandelion leaves and some aquatic plants including anacharis, water hyacinth, and water lettuce. These are easily available at the pet store.

However, I would recommend avoiding iceberg lettuce as it has no such nutrients for your turtle.Certain Foods

Specific Foods

Based on their species, you can provide them commercial food. Check the care sheets at the pet store before feeding any supplement to your turtle. They are usually suitable for the turtle available in the pallet form. It often carries frozen-dried cricket, grasshoppers, shrimps, and different minerals and vitamins.

Make sure you do not provide them wrong food or on a very frequent basis. A timely right type of food is essential for the healthy growth of a turtle. They live a long life when provided with a proper nutrient as required.

Prepare A Feeding Area

I will recommend you t prepare a separate feeding area for your pet other than the tank. A small plastic bowl or a glass dish will do it for you. Mostly turtles defecate within the short period after feeding. So, keeping your turtle in the feeding area for some time will keep the tank clean. Also, avoid overfeeding to keep the waste down.

4. Best Practices For A Beginner To Take Care of Their Turtle

Taking care of a turtle is not an easy task. Be committed to working hard if you are buying a turtle. Turtle lover will definitely enjoy keeping a turtle. Below are some tips to keep your turtle happy.


Turtles like a clean environment. Remove the waste and remaining food bits from the tank using clot or a net and change the water every 2 to 3 days. Or if you are using a water filter, then once in a couple of weeks is good enough.


Clean the tank one time a month. While cleaning the tank, place your turtle in a temperature controlled environment. Clean all the algae or any other growing from the tank using a scrub brush. There is no need to wash it through soap, however, do it quarterly in the year if you want. I will recommend using the Exo-Terra Turtle Habitat Cleaner.


Turtles enjoy the sensation they receive while brushing. Brush your pet using shell conditioner every month. You may routine it with the cleaning of the tank. It will groom your turtle, and you will be able to check for the diseases of any sort of injury. Using the same brush gently remove any algae if found.


Be careful when you are taking out your turtle of the tank for playing. Sudden change in the temperature can harm their immune system and causes stress. They are cold-blooded and takes time to adjust with the temperature. The best way is to maintain the room temperature as similar to the tank before putting your turtle out.


Always wash your hands before and after handling your turtle. Your turtle may carry Salmonella, which can affect you as well. Make sure to keep your fingers away from turtle’s mouth; a quick bite can harm you.


Turtles like to be alone most of the time. They will not cherish if you keep them with you for a long time. They are not like other pets that you can take for a walk. Some turtle keepers keep the turtle on their floors and try to engage them a lot. This is not healthy for turtles, and it may cause stress and health issues. Keeping your turtles in the tank and watching them swim, eat and move around in the habitat will keep them happier.


Avoid buying or keeping the turtles that grow up so large so it could be hard for you to handle and provide them sufficient space for the habitat. Some species like snapping turtles which looks cute as a hatchling, later grow up to a reasonable size causes trouble for the keeper to maintain a healthy environment for them.

Promote the Message of Love On World Turtle Day

World turtle day is on May 23rd. It was founded in 1990 by ‘American Tortoise Rescue’ to help turtles and tortoise live long and healthy. The purpose is to spread the awareness and message of love and care for turtles being a beautiful part of nature in hopes to encourage human actions for the safety of turtles.

Let us commit that we as an animal lover will promote the message of love and respect for the turtles and will try our best to keep them safe, healthy, and happy.

Author Bio:

Amanda Jerelyn is currently linked with AcademistHelp as a Marketing Executive. Besides, she has a great heart for animals, and she owns a Dalmatian dog named Mowgli. Amanda likes to share her knowledge and experience with animal lovers. Also, she has a website Guide 2 Write, where she guides students regarding referencing.


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2 replies
  1. John B. Nelson
    John B. Nelson says:

    Hi Amanda Jerelyn, Special thanks for a nice post on turtle care. Tips on turtle nutritious foods, how to keep them healthy, comfortable accomodation, ensure essential lighting all are awesome. Good job.


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