For many years now and particularly since the opening up of European borders, the pet trade has been involved in the sale of Terrapins and other aquatic species.
The vast majority of veterinarians and herpetologist will agree that these much misunderstood creatures are not ideally suited as pets and can be a danger to children if proper precautions and guidelines are ignored. They are a source of salmonella and other dangerous bacteria if not properly handled. Always wash your hands after handling these critters.
Pet shops and dealers offer these turtles for sale for as little as €20 and they are typically the size of a matchbox when offered for sale. However they grow at a rapid rate (particularly females) and you could end up with a dinner-plate sized pet within 5 to 10 years. THI has been approached by several local authorities when these unwanted animals have been set free in ponds and rivers throughout Ireland. They are not indigenous and create a threat to the environment. A fully grown Red-eared slider could kill a duck or cause injury to children playing near ponds and rivers not to mention poison the natural environment with salmonella and other dangerous bacteria.
In certain circumstances Tortoise Helpline Ireland can re-home unwanted pets. But in all circumstances we can offer you practical advice on keeping your turtle healthy. Naturally prevention is better than cure so why not give us a quick call before you purchase.
In general, the advice from THI is don’t purchase these creatures unless you have adequate facilities to cater for their ongoing needs.
However we have to be realistic here and admit that many people have purchased them so here are a few tips on keeping baby terrapins:
1. Purchase a smaller breed such as the common or razor-back Musk Turtle as they tend to grow to only 3 or 4 inches.
2. Purchase a large aquarium (at least 4 foot) for a single baby turtle.
3. Equip the aquarium with a strong thermostatically controlled heater set at 25 to30 degrees celcius
4. Incorporate UVB and UVA lighting and a basking area under a 40 watt spot lamp raised above the basking area by about 10 inches. The basking area could be a turtle island (available from pet stores) or a log or stone raised above water lever with easy access.
5. Use a strong filter system as turtles can be very messy animals.
6. Provide a hide at the bottom of the aquarium.
7. Provide lots of good quality substrate and plastic plants.
8. Remember turtles are mainly carnivorous creatures.
9. Turtles can live for 30 or more years if properly cared for so be prepared for a long long relationship
10. Do not allow young children handle turtles unsupervised