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How to Keep Your Turtle Happy

In this Article:Article SummaryDesigning a Happy HomeEating HealthyExercising RegularlyCommunity Q&A

If you have already purchased a turtle, there are several ways to ensure that your turtle has a long and healthy life. Although turtles require lots of care, a proper diet, and exercise, they are a rewarding pet to have and care for. Keeping them happy is an important step in helping them live a long life.

1
Designing a Happy Home

  1. 1
    Provide lots of space. Turtles enjoy swimming, basking in the sun, and being active. Turtles also grow. Therefore, providing lots of space for your turtle to enjoy these activities and giving room to grow is important in making your turtle happy. [1]
    • Research the potential mature size of your turtle and buy a tank that will reflect his growth. Turtles cannot be crammed into a small space or they will be unhappy.
    • Glass aquariums that provide about three to four times the length of the turtle are most desirable. Turtles need to be able to totally submerge themselves and they need an area to get out of the water and get completely dry.
    • Keep in mind that the bigger the tank is, the happier the turtle will be. Turtles are reptiles that, surprisingly, have a large territory in the wild. Try to reflect that with a large tank.
  2. 2
    Build a beach. Turtles take pleasure from spending time on land and water, so creating an environment that allows them to do both will make them happy. Although turtle aquariums do not need much landscaping creating an appropriate habitat will maximize your turtle’s health and longevity. Designing the habitat can be a fun and creative project, but always remember to keep your turtle’s needs in mind. [2]
    • Try to keep the water portion deeper than the shell is wide so your turtle can completely submerge and swim freely.
    • Slope the land portion into the water so your turtle does not have trouble entering or exiting the water portion.
    • Turtles love to bask in the sun. Create a basking platform so your turtle can enjoy the UVA and UVB heat lamps you set up in the tank. Turtles can relax under the light for up to ten to twelve hours a day.
  3. 3
    Keep clean. Turtles are messy – they excrete, eat, and leave behind scraps of food in their water. If you do no clean their aquarium, both the turtle and its habitat will stink. Moreover, all this waste could potentially cause high ammonia and nitrate levels. [3]
    • Clean your turtle’s aquarium weekly or create a separate area outside the tank to feed and allow your turtle to excrete waste before reentering the aquarium.
    • An unclean tank or turtle could result in several different types of diseases that are difficult to treat.
    • Algae will build on your turtle’s shell and will need to be cleaned off with a soft toothbrush.
    • Turtles, like most reptiles, shed. The scutes on your turtle’s shell will become itchy and irritable if you do not keep the shell cleaned off.
    • Always wash your hands before and after handling your turtle so that you do not transfer germs or contaminates to your turtle and to prevent the transfer of salmonella.
  4. 4
    Handle with love. Turtles, like people, have very different personalities. If you have a social turtle, you might be able to pet or play with them, but a general rule would be to keep handling at a minimum. [4]
    • In general, turtles do not enjoy being lifted off of the ground, but sometimes it is necessary to remove them from their aquarium for cleaning, playing, or exercise. If so, handle your turtle gently and securely so they do not bite you or try to escape.
    • Remember never to put your turtle on its back, grab its tail, or force it out of its shell. Your turtle will not think that is funny and it will stress them out.
    • If your turtle enjoys affection, you can pet their head, chin, and shell as long as they allow you to do it.
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Method 1 Quiz

Which of these is the best home for a happy turtle?

Absolutely! Turtles need to be able to fully submerge themselves, as well as get out of the water to stay dry. Glass aquariums that are 3 to 4 times the length of the turtle are perfect to create both of these areas. Read on for another quiz question.

Not quite! You need to make sure that your turtle's home has both wet and dry areas. While your turtle may enjoy some greenery, it also needs an area to completely submerge itself in water. Click on another answer to find the right one...

Nope! You need to clean algae from both your turtle and your tank to make your turtle happy. Clean your turtle’s aquarium weekly because both an unclean tank or turtle could result in disease. Try another answer...

Not necessarily! An outdoor turtle is susceptible to predators, such as neighborhood cats and dogs. It will also be exposed to the elements, including rain or extreme temperatures. Click on another answer to find the right one...

2
Eating Healthy

  1. 1
    Provide variety. Turtles are omnivores and have a voracious appetite. Just like humans, turtles need variety in their life. A balanced diet of vitamins and minerals is very important to keep your turtle happy and satisfied. [5]
    • A balanced diet of leafy green vegetables, insects, and prepared turtle foods will keep your turtle growing to full size. Your turtle might also like fruit or even flowers. Make sure you know what type of turtle you have so that you can provide the appropriate diet.
    • Never feed your turtle dairy products, as their stomach cannot properly digest lactose. Also steer clear of giving your turtle processed foods. Whole, dairy free foods are best.
  2. 2
    Feed them live food as a snack. Turtles like to chase their food. By providing live food for your turtle, you will give them time for exercise and entertainment. [6]
    • Provide your turtle with live crickets, mealworms, wax worms are delicious insects that turtles love to eat.
    • Consider adding alternative insects, or even live fish and shrimp, throughout the week to keep your turtle’s diet interesting and nutritious.
  3. 3
    Keep a regular schedule. You love your turtle and it loves you, but do not give your turtle food every time you witness begging. Turtles are opportunistic feeders in the wild since they never know when the next meal is coming. Oftentimes, when your turtle sees you they will approach you with an open mouth because they associate you with feeding. Do not veer from the schedule, otherwise you will probably overfeed your turtle. [7]
    • Younger turtles need to eat daily whereas adult or mature turtles only need to be fed a few times per week. Be careful not to overfeed your turtle, they can become obese.
    • Water should always be accessible. Indeed, many turtles will consume their food under the water, but if they do not, then you should leave your turtle’s food in the same location in the aquarium. That way, your turtle will always know where to go to get their food.
    • To help avoid overfeeding, you should present food as your turtle eats it and remove all uneaten or partially eaten food after about five minutes.
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Method 2 Quiz

How can you make sure you don't overfeed your turtle?

Not quite! Live food provides your turtle with both exercise and entertainment. However, it will not prevent you from overfeeding your turtle. Pick another answer!

Not exactly! Even if you feed your turtle on a schedule, you may still be overfeeding it. Your turtle may learn to associate your presence with food, so even if it approaches you with its mouth open, it might not be hungry. Choose another answer!

Not necessarily! Adult turtles only need to eat a few times a week, but younger turtles need to eat more often. Turtles are opportunistic feeders, so you can't rely on them to let you know when they are hungry. Click on another answer to find the right one...

Nice! Removing uneaten and partially eaten food about 5 minutes after feeding your turtle can help you prevent it from overeating. That being said, remember to always leave your turtle's food in the same location so that it knows where to find it. Read on for another quiz question.

3
Exercising Regularly

  1. 1
    Go outside and play. Even if you are a generous owner and purchase an aquarium that provides space and freedom, a turtle will still need additional room to exercise and play. Remember that turtles are extremely active and, in the wild, cover lots of ground despite their unwieldy bodies. [8]
    • If you plan to let your turtle out of the aquarium to walk around the house, make sure everybody is aware and that you provide some barriers to control the location of their exercise. This avoids any fatal accidents.
  2. 2
    Provide live fish as a game. While in the aquarium, you can place small fish or cuttlebones on top of the water and let your turtle “hunt” these items. The effort your turtle makes to swim and hunt these objects is a great source of exercise. [9]
    • Live insects make tasty and hard to catch as well. Consider feeding your turtle mayflies, caddisflies, beetle larvae, crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, and waxworms.
    • Earthworms, blackworms, snails, clams, small frogs, and tadpoles are acceptable mollusks, worms, and amphibians to feed your pet turtle.
    • Other natural fish that your turtle would enjoy chasing and eating are young goldfish, red minnows, guppies, and mosquito fish.
  3. 3
    Give your turtle toys. Some turtles also enjoy playing. Although it is completely okay to pet and play with your turtle keep in mind that turtles are generally a kind of pet that is better to look at than to constantly handle. They will get stressed out. After all, they are not a dog!
    • Consider providing your turtle with an empty shell that they can slide across the floor with or place a small toy raft in their water that they can push along for fun.
    • Train your turtle to eat from your hand. This takes some trust and familiarity but once some connection has been established between you and your turtle, try putting a piece of fruit on your hand. If your turtle enjoys this, then try placing the piece of fruit on your wrist so that you turtle has to crawl up your hand to get it.
    • Try building an obstacle course. Design obstacles out of your turtle’s natural habitat – stones, sticks, plants, and water pits. Place a treat at the end to provide motivation.
    • Another fun game for your turtle is to “find-the-treat.” Hide crickets, worms, or other live insects around your turtle’s habitat for it to find. This will give your turtle a challenge with a treat as a reward.
    • Remember that these tricks could take time for your turtle to learn, so be patient. Also, the more difficult the game or the exercise the more stress it will place on your turtle. In other words, it is not a good idea to play these games or exercises on a daily basis.
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Method 3 Quiz

Why should you provide your turtle with live fish?

Not quite! Your turtle will entertain itself by swimming, walking, or basking in the sun. It doesn't need live fish to avoid boredom. Pick another answer!

Not necessarily! Turtles are omnivores, so they will eat both animals and vegetables. To provide your turtle with a balanced, nutritious diet, you should fit it both live fish and vegetation. Choose another answer!

Correct! Live fish, such as young goldfish, red minnows, guppies, and mosquito fish provide both nutrition and exercise for your fish. Your turtle will hunt these fish like it does in the wild. Read on for another quiz question.

Community Q&A

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  • Question
    Can I keep two turtles in one tank?
    NarwhalOverlord
    Community Answer
    If they fight, it is probably not the best choice. But, if they seem to share and get along, then go ahead and keep them together!
  • Question
    I brought two baby turtles recently and they do not eat the processed food I got them. Should I start feeding them fish and insects?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    There may be other reasons why your turtles are not eating. Make sure you have a water heater so that their body temperature can be regulated, otherwise they won't eat. Also, you could try feeding it some leafy vegetables such as kale, lettuce, etc. Overall, as long as your tank is properly set up, they could just be still getting used to their new environment and may just not be ready to eat yet! Eventually they will get hungry and eat the processed food!
  • Question
    How many times should I take my turtle out of the tank?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It would be a good idea to take your turtle out of the tank a couple of times every day. You will need to take your turtle out of his/her cage to exercise and explore. Just remember that your turtle will get stressed out if you handle him/her too often, but you also need to keep an eye on your turtle.
  • Question
    Can I give my turtle a small rubber ball to push around?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You can. Make sure that the ball is large enough so that the turtle can't swallow it, and hard enough that it can't chew through it.
  • Question
    Why does my turtle go into a corner when I let him move around?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Hiding or trying to get away is your turtle's natural instinct to protect itself from predators. Make sure you provide your turtle with a proper place to hide and a big enough enclosure. Turtles do not enjoy constant attention or affection and giving them a place to chill out on their own will create a less stressful environment and a healthier turtle.
  • Question
    How can I get my turtle to come out of the water?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Turtles love basking, so you might want to consider giving him a comfortable rock where he can just warm up and relax. Make sure you don't get a heated rock, however, as those can be dangerous. Stick with a heat lamp only.
  • Question
    Can I feed worms to small turtles>s?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes. The worms should be cut into quarters. Too much protein can cause shell deformities, however, so be sure to keep worms and other protein only as an occasional treat.
  • Question
    What does it mean when my turtle hisses at me when I pick him up?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It means that he dislikes you picking him up.
  • Question
    Do I have to have a filter in my turtle's tank?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    No, but you will have to wash it manually and more often. It's important to keep the tank and water clean.
  • Question
    Can someone take my turtle if I can't manage keeping it anymore?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, you can pass your turtle on to someone else if you need to rehome it. However, you need to do a thorough check to make sure that they are aware of the responsibilities involved and that they have all of the set-up etc. Advertise to find a new home using pet sites online. Or, ask an animal shelter for advice and help. Do not release it into the wild; it probably won't be able to survive and if it isn't native, it isn't right to add an non-native species to the local environment.
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    Article SummaryX

    If you want to keep your turtle happy, make sure it has plenty of room to move around on land and in water. Then, even if you’ve given your turtle plenty of room, occasionally take it outside to play and get some exercise. You can also keep your turtle healthy and entertained by feeding it live fish and insects, which it will have to hunt and catch. Sometimes, you can even play with the turtle by hiding food around the aquarium to make them a challenge to find.

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    Article Info

    Categories: Turtles and Tortoises

    In other languages:

    Español: mantener a tu tortuga feliz, Русский: содержать черепаху довольной, Italiano: Rendere Felice la Tua Tartaruga, Português: Manter a sua Tartaruga Feliz, Français: rendre sa tortue heureuse, Bahasa Indonesia: Menjaga agar Kura‐Kura Peliharaan Tetap Bahagia, Deutsch: So ist deine Schildkröte glücklich, Nederlands: Je schildpad gelukkig houden, 日本語: カメを幸せにする

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