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How To Take Care Of Turtles And Terrapins
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Terrapins as pets. What exactly are they? What are their unusual behaviour traits? How do you keep them and what type of tank do they require? What do they eat in their natural wild habitat? How do you keep them clean? What are their hygiene requirements? Are there any diseases they are susceptible to? How do you rear and breed them?

Over recent years there has been an increase in the popularity of terrapins as pets. Endemic to the southern states of the USA our terrapin is an obligate carnivore and fiercely territorial. Besides this they like to snap and bite. From the pet owner's perspective they require careful handling.

What is more they require sub-tropical dark and dank conditions similar to the brackish estuarine conditions in their native USA. On average our terrapins range from between 4.5 inches in size through to 9 inches. More surprisingly, they are sexually dimorphic. Which means the female of the species is larger.

When selecting males and females there are defining characteristics which enable you to tell them apart and prepare them for breeding. Both genders have curved shells but the male shell has sharply defined indentation.

Besides this both genders of terrapins have extensible necks. As they are usually around 4 hours under water they swimming they have to return to the surface to breathe oxygen. Now this is where their extensible necks are used to their advantage.

As your terrapins have dark grey shells with mottled bandings they are camouflaged in the dark and dank brackish water of estuarine rivers. Amid the debris at the bottom of the river they can strike out at passing prey. Among the varieties of terrapins the two most common species are the diamondback terrapin and the red eared terrapin. Both varieties grow to 25-30 cms in size. In these habitats, terrapins live solitary lives.

To house your pair of terrapins you should have one twenty gallon tank. Keep another tank if you have one female terrapin who is breeding. Because the male terrapin is fiercely territorial you should never keep two of them together in the same tank. Unless they brothers who were raised together. One tip is to keep two female terrapins together in the same tank.

When replicating their natural habitat, stock your glass aquarium tank with abundant weeds and marine plants and trees. If you add layers of peat, moss, decaying leaf litter then your aquarium tank water becomes dark, murky, acidic. With slightly acidic water which averages PH level 6 our pet terrapin will thrive. For this most resembles their natural habitat.

Each glass aquarium tank requires one corner composed of pebbles, sand and gravel. Here, they can take shelter and rest. Since female terrapins lay abundant eggs in sand then these aquarium corner beach areas are important.

Every 20 gallon glass aquarium tank should be filtered and aerated to provide your terrapin with an oxygen rich environment. Another requirement is to ensure that there is exposure to at least 12 hours direct sunlight. Where this is not possible you can substitute this with an artificial lamp. Underneath your tank there should be some type of heating pad.

By ensuring that tank temperatures are set between 80 to 90 degrees fahrenheit you create the subtropical warmth essential for your pet terrapins health. Some pet owners put plastic plants in the glass aquarium tank. Far from being beneficial these can be toxic for your pet terrapin as they nibble on these.

Dietary requirements for pet terrapins should include an abundance of crabs, crustaceans, shrimps, mealworms, water fleas, daphnea, smaller fish species, insect larvae for their proteins. Almost any citrus fruit segments, banana pieces, apple pieces are consumed as in the wild habitat terrapins consume fallen fruit in the depths of the rivers where they reside. Some green leaf vegetation should be left on the surface of the tank as this provides vital nutrient supplements.

As mentioned before, you should keep one separate tank. At some stage every week you should clean out the tank. Because terrapins are susceptible to diseases from algae, fungi, bacteria you have to ensure your pet does not become infected. So therefore it is essential is to shower spray and rinse your pet terrapins shell to stop the risk of fungal growth.

Because you have to pick up your pet terrapin, wear gloves. While you pick up your pet terrapin hold it on both sides. To be able to handle your pet terrapin you have to first create the bond so that it identifies that you are its owner. Only when the slender neck and then the legs emerge can you handle it.

You can tame your pet terrapins lunging and biting. In time, you may even be able to hand feed your pet terrapin from the surface of the tank.

With excellent care and nutrition, you can expect your pet terrapin to live from between 15-20 years.


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