How to Take Care Of a Turtle

Although turtles seem easier to care for than other pets, they require lots of time and money.

  • Set up a tank with at least a 40-gallon (151.42-liter) capacity, with separate land and water areas, as well as a sun lamp for your turtle to warm itself under.
  • Set up a UVB light bulb to supplement the natural lighting [source: Girard]. Turtles need UVB rays, which are filtered by glass.
  • Monitor the tank and water temperature, because you'll need to keep these controlled. The exact temperatures needed depend on your turtle's breed.
  • Leave your turtle in his cage. The change in temperature between inside and outside the cage is bad for his immune system [source:].
  • Discuss letting your turtle hibernate with your veterinarian. Turtles need to hibernate for 10-20 weeks during the fall [source: Foster & Smith]. It's hard to provide a suitable hibernating environment, and not everyone that keeps their turtles indoors lets them hibernate. Either way, you'll need a "hide box" for your turtle to sleep, hibernate or rest in.
  • Clean your turtle's bedding at least once a week and his tank once a month.
  • Change its water daily.

Young turtles need to be fed daily, and adult turtles need to be fed at least three times a week. Young turtles need a diet with 50 percent to 75 percent protein. Adult turtles need a diet of 10 percent to 20 percent protein. Turtles also eat all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Chop or shave your turtle's food and mix it together so he'll eat his vegetables. Good sources of protein for a turtle are:


  • Earthworms
  • Crickets/grasshoppers/cicadas
  • Slugs/snails
  • Baby or chopped mice [source: AAHA]

Give your turtle vitamin A and call your vet if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Changes in behavior or eating
  • Whitish or grayish areas on the shell or skin
  • Dry or flaky shell or skin
  • A soft shell
  • A red tinge
  • Discharge from his nose or mouth
  • Swelling or lumps [source: AAHA] //]]]]> ]]>