Turtles are calm, slow-moving, endearing reptiles that are believed to have been inhabiting our planet for the last 200 million years. In the United States, the term 'turtle' is used to represent the entire turtle genus, irrespective of the species type.
This broad term 'turtle' can be sub-divided into three types: aquatic turtles (water turtles), semi-aquatic (marsh and swamp type) turtles, and semi-terrestrial turtles (live on both land and water). This article dwells only on the aquatic and semi-aquatic turtle habitat, and also on the man-made habitat.
Habitat in the Wild
In the wild, these aquatic turtles live close to a constant water supply, for example, fast-flowing rivers, meandering streams, narrow creeks, ponds, lakes, swamps, and even salty or brackish marshes. Same is the case with the semi-aquatic turtles. The amazing factor about these reptiles is that they can easily cope up with alterations in their environment. However, habitat loss is affecting their population.
If you wish to bring home an aquatic turtle, it's important to be well-versed with the kind of environment you need to simulate for your pet.
Enclosure: While choosing an enclosure, you need to consider the size of the turtle. Always find out how big the turtle can grow, and accordingly make your choice. Moreover, the enclosure should have enough free space for the turtle to move around comfortably. The commonly available types of aquatic turtle species found in pet stores, usually grow to a length of at least 10-12 inches long. This gives you an idea of how big the enclosure should be. A glass aquarium will also make a good home. Make sure the enclosure has a supply of UVA and UVB light.
Cleanliness: Turtles are carnivorous, and often defecate in the water they swim, thereby causing the water to become dirty very quickly. To maintain the water quality, get a filtration system that will filter the water regularly. If left as it is, the water will become a breeding ground for microorganisms, thereby, spearheading various diseases.
Food: Aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles eat everything from fish meat to water plants, to berries and even ripe fruits. Besides turtle food, you can feed them fish like trout, guppies, goldfish, etc. They even relish chopped or whole, skinned mice. Insects like meal worms, crickets, moths, wax worms, etc., are also different food options.
An improperly set up habitat―a small tank, poor lighting, unhygienic, etc., can conduce to ill health or even death of the aquatic turtle. Therefore, as a pet owner it's important to remember that taking care of an aquatic turtle entails great responsibility. Some countries like Indiana, do not permit the sale of native species of turtles. Thus, before getting one, make sure you check the law of the land!