VideoJug presents Mark Amey's step by step guide to looking after terrapins. Terrapins, or turtles as they are known outside the UK, are interesting pets but need committed owners as they can live for over 30 years. Care for terrapins in the correct way with VideoJug's help.
Step 1: Housing and bedding
A single terrapin will need a large aquarium with a secure, ventilated lid. For each centimetre of it's shell length, a terrapin will need about 100 square centimetres of floor space. Your pet will need a dry area as well as water to swim in. The tank will need a water filter to remove waste and bacteria. Fit a heater to keep the water temperature at 24-28 degrees during the day and 21-25 degrees at night. Use a thermometer to check. Fit the tank with a UV light which should be kept on for 12-14 hours a day during the summer and 8-10 hours during the winter, and replaced every 6 months. Use a spot light to create a hotter basking area of 30-35 degrees. The water should be at least as deep as the largest terrapin is wide, and there should be enough space for each terrapin to turn around and swim. Add water treatment to remove chlorine from the tap water. If your aquarium doesn't have a ledge, create a dry area with pebbles or gravel and include bark or plants for shade. The tank should be kept away from direct sunlight, radiators and draughts.
Step 2: Handling
Pick your terrapin up by the sides of the shell, positioning your fingers underneath the shell to support it. Make sure you put it down gently to avoid damaging it's legs. Only handle terrapins when necessary as they can scratch and bite. Wash your hands before and after handling to avoid spreading bacteria such as salmonella.
Step 3: Diet
Terrapins eat a mixture of meat and plants. Adult terrapins should be fed 3 times a week and young terrapins every day with freshwater fish, shrimps, mussels, and fruit and vegetables. Feed them with enough to be eaten in about 5 minutes. Give your terrapins vitamin and calcium supplements in the form of pellets every other day.
Step 4: Exercise and play
Terrapins can get all the exercise they need from the aquarium you provide.
Step 5: Cleaning
Change the water and clean out the aquarium once a month. Turn off the heater and water filter and remove your terrapins before draining the water. Your terrapins can be kept in a ventilated plastic container. The water filter should be cleaned and rinsed through every week.
Step 6: Health
It is vital that terrapins are kept in the correct environment to prevent health problems. Healthy terrapins are alert and bright-eyed, and don't have discharge around the mouth and nose. Their shells should be hard without any discolouration or damage such as bumps or cracks. Take your terrapins to the vet if they become lethargic or lose their appetite.
Have fun with your terrapins