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The Penn Plax Turtle Pier – a Useful New Basking Site for Turtles and Amphibians

Late Stage TadpoleAfter decades of struggling to create makeshift land areas for semi-aquatic reptiles and amphibians, I was very happy when pre-formed Turtle Docks, Turtle Logs  and Turtle Banks became available.  Today I’d like to review the recently-introduced Penn Plax Turtle Pier, which eliminates certain drawbacks associated with the previously mentioned products.

Drawbacks and Advantages of Various Platforms

Since their introduction, I’ve put the first line of basking docks and platforms to good use in my collection and in several of the aquarium and museum exhibits I’ve designed (please see article below).  Their only limitations are that large turtles tend to sink them below the surface (which keeps the plastron from drying out completely) and robust individuals sometimes dislodge the platforms from the aquarium’s sides.

The Penn Plax Turtle Pier provides a much more stable platform, allowing larger turtles, or groups of small individuals, to dry out thoroughly.  At 16 x 11 inches, the largest model (suitable for 20 gallon and larger aquariums) exceeds all other similar products in size.

The area below the dock doubles as a secure refuge for turtles, frogs, salamanders, fishes or crayfishes, and the lower support beams provide nice underwater resting areas.  A ridged, sloped extension allows small newts, metamorphosing frogs (please see photo) and other weak swimmers to access the basking area without difficulty.

A Unique Use: Feeding Shy Frogs

I’ve found the Turtle Pier to possess a value that was perhaps unintended by its creator – it greatly eases the feeding of Leopard Frogs, American Bullfrogs and other semi-aquatic species.

These frogs need fairly deep water but cannot catch earthworms, fishes, crayfishes and similar foods below the surface (except in very shallow areas).  Food animals left on small basking platforms invariably crawl into the water before they are eaten, especially if shy frogs are involved.  The Turtle Pier’s wide, flat platform allows the food to remain available longer – either directly on the surface or by being confined to a bowl.

Turtle Piers in Marine Aquariums?

Turtle PierI’ve always loved public aquarium exhibits that utilize wooded docks and piers as part of their décor.  I can envision using the Turtle Pier in a home version of these exhibits, with sea stars, snails and anemones colonizing the pier uprights, fishes swimming below and small crabs climbing up on the dock to forage for food items placed there.

Further Reading

Please see Basking Platforms in Private and Public Collections for more ideas.



Late Stage Tadpole image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Viridiflavus

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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