WFMW: Turtles, the All Purpose Pet
Wednesday, February 20, 2008

We love our turtle. We bought Mr P and Mr R turtles for Christmas 2002, but one died mysteriously last month. I think he ate a crayon.

Turtles are awesome pets.

  • They are cool. Every little boy who comes over always wants to hold them. Tip: hold them between your thumb and fingers like a sandwich, don't just lift them by their shell.
  • They are easy. After we moved, our turtles lived in a dishpan on top of the fridge for a month! They can be quite dirty, though, so an aquarium of some sort with a filter is really recommended. We have red-eared sliders - not box turtles, and they must be in water in order to swallow their food. They also need a rock or someplace to get out of the water and warm themselves. Keep the rock away from the sides!
  • They are smart - enough. We've got ours trained so he will swim to the surface and open his mouth when they see our hand come near their tank.
  • They are cheap. We paid less than $10 a piece for them, and their food is under $5 and lasts forever. No pet deposit required, either! They don't need their teeth cleaned or rounds of shots. You do need an aquarium or pond - check out thrift stores! Large plastic storage tubs (Rubbermaid) work too. It will not be filled to the top with water like a fish tank would, but should be set up with a swimming area and a sunning area.
  • They are durable. A requirement for pets of small boys! Once we left them on the floorboard of the car overnight - in Denver in December. The water had ice on the top, but the turtles soldiered on and became active once the water warmed up. Recently, they lived outside for a couple of months in another dishpan. A little dishpan is not the recommended setting, just so you know. We have a large aquarium that we set up for them, but we moved right after husband dear coughed his way to three broken ribs so it took a little while for us to set up the proper home.
  • Did I mention they were easy? You'll never need to hire a dogwalker, pet sitter, or find a kennel. Take off for the weekend and they'll be patiently waiting when you return. Turtles do not need to eat everyday, in fact obesity (yes, really) will kill your turtle!
A favorite pasttime around here is finding bugs and feeding them to the turtles. Mr P is surprisingly astute at catching flies.

Some things you should know before you get a turtle:
  • They are reptiles, and often carry salmonella. We have a bottle of Purell nearby and children should wash their hands after handling them.
  • They can be prone to soft-shell, which will kill them. Turtles need natural light (UVB) or a special reptile light. We just let ours hang out in the yard (enclosed, of course, or they'll crawl off and hide.) This delights the Miss C, by the way.
  • Feed them turtle food. Water turtles should not be fed lettuce, cabbage, or carrots. Weeds are good for them, though, as long as they haven't been sprayed with herbicides!
  • Do not put them in an aquarium with fish. They will eat them, even though pet turtles are mainly herbivores.
Keeping Pet Turtles is a good resource.

Visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for more handy tips!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/20/2008 09:49:00 AM | Permalink | |