In Search Of A Pet Turtle
Practical Reptile Keeping|February 2017

Please can you give me some advice on keeping a turtle?

Turtles can make great pets, but you need to start by thinking about the amount of space that you have available. The North American cooters and sliders look very cute as youngsters, but it is vital to bear in mind that they will grow fast and ultimately end up about the size of a large plate. This makes it very difficult to accommodate such species in the average home.

On the other hand, however, there are other species that will only reach a small size when adult. This group includes both musk turtles (Sternotherus odoratus) and Reeves’ turtle (Mauremys reevesi), which attain a length of about 15cm (6in) long. Healthy young turtles are active by nature, and will scamper readily into water when disturbed. Over time though, as your pet comes to recognise you, so it will become more friendly and less nervous. Their eyes should be open and not swollen.

It is generally not recommended to obtain two turtles to live together. They are not social by nature, and as they mature, a male is likely to persecute a female repeatedly, and can injure her in the confines of a tank. By this stage, as in tortoises, the underside of the male’s shell will appear concave. Males also have their ano-genital opening further down the underside of the tail, towards the tip.

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