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CARING FOR YOUR LONG-NECKED TURTLE

(Family Cheloniidae)

 

Your turtle must be kept in an environment with a suitable temperature range, aquatic environment and daylength. Disease problems in turtles are commonly associated with poor maintenance of these, particularly temperature and water quality.

 

Housing

     Smaller turtles are best kept in glass aquaria, while larger ones may be housed in outdoor enclosures.

     Most Australian turtles have a preferred body temperature (PBT) of 26C and their enclosure should provide a temperature range 2-3C either side of this PBT, with wet hiding areas and warm basking spots.

     To achieve this, one end of the enclosure should contain water heated to 22-25C. This water should be deep enough for the turtle to completely submerge itself and swim freely.

     The basking area should be large enough for the turtle to walk around and dry itself completely. An infrared heat-lamp should be placed over the basking area the ideal temperature below the globe is 25-30C.

     Logs, rocks and clean terracotta pots can be placed in and out of the water for use as climbing and hiding platforms.

     A source of ultraviolet light, either through exposure to unfiltered, natural sunlight, or an artificial UVB light, is necessary to help prevent Vitamin D deficiency and metabolic bone disease. Replace the light every 6months as it will stop producing UVB spectrum light, even if it is still producing visible light.

     The water must be partially changed (approx. 30% of the water volume) 2 times a week and uneaten food and faeces removed daily. Water filters are also crucial.

     Do not keep long-necked and short-necked turtles together.

 

Feeding

     Turtles only eat in the water they will refuse food if it is placed elsewhere.

     Feeding frequency is generally once daily for young turtles and three times a week for older turtles. Some turtles may take several weeks to accept new foods.

     Turtles should be fed a varied diet of whole fish such as whitebait, yabbies, prawns, worms and insects. These should be cut into bite-sized pieces. Some will also eat water plants. Raw red meat and mince are not appropriate foods as they lack calcium and many vitamins. Turtle-dinners, dog food or cat food are not appropriate complete diets. Turtle pellets are not appropriate for Australian turtle species.

     Calcium is important for strong bones and shells without this your turtle will develop a rubbery texture to the shell and curling of the shell edges. This is best provided by feeding whole fish (not fillets) as the main portion of the diet.

More information can be found on Feeding Your Long-Necked Turtle

 

Health Care

     Book a yearly health check to check faeces and detect general health problems

eg parasite infestations and bacterial infections. Worming can be done during this visit.

     Annual blood screening and/or bacterial cultures are recommended for certain pet turtles.

     Checking water quality regularly is key to having a healthy pet turtle. Testing should be performed for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH levels. Kits can be purchased or water can be tested by many aquarium shops or your reptile vet.

 

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