Turtles: General care sheet

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So, you are thinking about keeping a turtle? Here are some general things to keep in mind when getting one, of course you should always do your research on the specfic breed you want, as needs differ from breed to breed.


Offer a wide variety of whole natural foods such as whole lance fish, bloodworm, earthworms and insects (mealworms, grasshoppers, and beetles). Feeding pellet food and any other specially manufactured food is also recommended.

"Whole" means with the shell and skin, do not remove any parts. You can chop them up before feeding to make them smaller, but make sure all the bits are eaten. This is important in order to balance their diet, especially with regards to calcium levels.

These "food animals" should be fed on cat biscuits or any household scraps before feeding, as a full gut will increase their nutritional value when fed to your terrapin.

Vegetables such as frozen mixed vegetables, carrots, and green leafs are excellent if the terrapin will take them. You should try to get your terrapin on these as he/she matures.

Twice a week food items should be dusted with a reptile calcium/vitamin powder such as Nutrobal before feeding to balance the diet.

Meat (such as pork and beef) is a very poor food as it is low in calcium, vitamins and fibre, and will lead to disease so should not be given.

Raw fish can be given but ensure it is a species that does not contain Thiaminase as this will make your animal ill due to a vitamin B1 deficiency if fed more than twice a week.


Terrapins ideally should have the choice between water and land. A tank containing water eep enough for them to swim around with a choice of rocks to rest on is perfect.

The tank should be kept in a reasonably quiet place, and it should be dark at night time.


Ultra Violet Light, either from the sun or special light is beneficial. Note that UV light will be filtered out by glass or plastic, so sunlight must be direct.

UV bulbs should be changed frequently according to manufacturers instructions (generally every 6 months) and be only 12" above your pet. Watch out for over-heating in the sun, as this can happen very quickly without you realising.


Feed your terrapin in a seperate small tank as this will keep the water clean. Wait until it defecates then rinse before placing back in the tank.

- Salmonella must always be considered a risk. Observe good hygiene.


Environmental temperature in summer is fine. In winter we do advise adding heat using a small in-tank heater. A special light bulb over one rock will provide a "hot spot" for basking.

It is good to have a temperature gradient across the cage to allow the terrapin to choose the temperature they want.