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Tag Archives: turtle Health

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The Best Filters for Red-Eared Sliders and other Aquatic Turtles

C. insculptaHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Long-lived, responsive and intelligent, Red-Eared Sliders and similar turtles are among the most popular of reptile pets.  However, aquatic turtles feed in water and are quite messy about it, and produce a great deal of waste.  Keeping their water clear and odor-free, and in a state that promotes good health, is a challenge faced by all turtle-keepers.  Today I’ll review some filters that are especially designed for use with aquatic turtles and other reptiles and amphibians; you can view other available models here

General Considerations

Your turtle’s natural history and feeding behavior will greatly influence the type of filter that should be used, so be sure to research these topics before making your selection.  For example, Spotted Turtles will be stressed by fast currents, Soft-shelled Turtles will kick sand about and dislodge intake tubes, the carapaces of Pig-Nosed Turtles are prone to bacterial attack in highly-oxygenated waters, and so on.  Please write in if you need help in selecting a filter. Read More »

Egg Retention (Dystocia) in Turtles – the Problem and Some Solutions – Part 2

Blanding’s turtle laying eggsHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Please see Part 1 of this article for general information on retained-egg syndrome and the provision of suitable nest sites for captive turtles.

Creating an Acceptable Nest Site

Gravid turtles can be maddeningly choosy when it comes to nest site selection – even when presented with what appears to be perfectly “natural” situation, some females refuse to “appreciate” our efforts. 

Moisture usually attracts nesting females, and in some cases heavy misting, to simulate rain, is useful (in NYC, I’ve noticed that a great many Common Snapping Turtles nest on the first rainy night in June).   Read More »

Egg Retention (Dystocia) in Turtles – the Problem and Some Solutions – Part 1

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  One of the most common and serious problems faced by turtle keepers involves female turtles (mated or unmated) that develop eggs but refuse to deposit them in the terrariums or aquariums in which they live.  While this can be the result of any number of health problems (i.e. low calcium levels, tumors), the lack of an appropriate nesting site is more often than not the cause.

Retained Eggs

It’s very difficult to keep turtles, especially semi-aquatic and aquatic species, in an enclosure that allows for year-round access to a nesting site.  Providing a terrestrial nesting site, as well as adequate swimming space, usually involves the use of a pool or pond as opposed to an aquarium.  Read More »

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

Late Stage TadpoleHello, Frank Indiviglio here.After 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. Read More »

Turtles Have Shells,But They Still Need a Place to Hide! – Part 2

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Please see Part I of this article for general information concerning pet turtle shelters.  Today we’ll look at meeting the needs of a few specialists.

Aquatic Bottom Dwellers

Mata Mata Turtles (Chelus fimbriatus), Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina), Alligator Snapping Turtles (Macroclemmys temmincki) and some other aquatic species prefer to burrow under plants or mud, and rarely use caves.  These turtles can easily be accommodated with Hagen Suction Cup-Equipped Plants.  By positioning the suction cups so that the plant just touches the bottom of the aquarium, you can create a naturalistic shelter …several plants used in together can accommodate quite large specimens.

Shallow Water/Swamp Dwellers

Bog TurtleBog Turtles (Clemmys muhlenbergi) and other retiring, shallow water species are usually most comfortable in heavily planted terrariums, with plenty of dead wood and moss available for hiding (please see photo).  These will readily utilize artificial plants as well.

Large Tortoises

That 150 pound Spurred Tortoise you’ve raised will need a custom built “house”, but for most large terrestrial turtles, you can also use the Hagen plants described above.  This actually suits tortoises quite well – in the wild most shelter within brush and under leaves, and not in “caves” per se.

Softshell Turtles

Softshell Turtles of all species are specialists, and do best when provided with fine sand in which to burrow.  Although excellent swimmers, they prefer to shelter below sand in shallow water, so that they can breathe by merely extending their necks to the surface.  Although sand complicates cleaning, most softshells fare poorly without it.

A Hundred Year Old Home

Musk TurtleYou can also create your own shelters…broken clay flower pots are an old standby.  The Common Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus) pictured here has been with me for 40 years.  It is posing before its very unique cave – a 100 year old tile from the roof of the Bronx Zoo’s Reptile House!

Further Reading

The Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera spinifera) has specific habitat requirements in both captivity (please see above) and the wild, and is threatened throughout much of its range.  A comprehensive recovery plan containing interesting natural history notes is posted here.

Please write in with your questions and comments. 

Thanks, until next time,

Frank Indiviglio

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