About animals

Land turtles: care and maintenance


Considering the question of how to care for a land tortoise, it is necessary to highlight several key points. It is important to properly organize the reptile's habitat, regularly conduct all hygiene measures, and carefully monitor the diet.

What do you need to keep a land turtle?

One of the necessary conditions for keeping a house of land turtles is to equip it with a convenient habitat - a terrarium. Many owners make a mistake by allowing the turtles to crawl freely on the floor, this way of keeping pets has negative aspects:

  • low level of temperature, humidity and illumination,
  • dustiness, against which allergic reactions may occur,
  • the possibility of injury.

During their maintenance in the terrarium, turtles dig in the ground, gnaw objects made of special abrasive material, and winter in specially created conditions for this. Terrariums are equipped with devices to create the right temperature, shelters that allow land turtles to feel comfortable, resting from excessive human attention, and give owners the opportunity to take care of animals more easily.

Land tortoise - keeping temperature

The maintenance of a land tortoise at home does not cause difficulties, these animals are viable and unpretentious, easily adapt to a new habitat, it is not difficult to care for them. But some rules that bring reptiles closer to natural living conditions must be ensured. Turtles, accustomed to a warm climate, will be most comfortable in a terrarium, where the temperature is maintained at + 25-35 ° С. For this purpose, use an incandescent lamp, placing it in that corner, which is opposite to the shelter house.

Terrarium for land tortoise

Before you equip a terrarium for a land tortoise, determine the number of future residents, this will affect its size, take into account the growth of turtles and purchase a terrarium with a margin. Provide reptiles with free space for movement, which should not be cluttered with unnecessary objects. It is easier to maintain and care for land turtles, and their accommodation will be as comfortable as possible in a spacious horizontal terrarium, the width of which is two to three times the width of the largest pet in it.

Land Turtle Terrarium Equipment

To create good conditions for keeping a tortoise in a terrarium, it should be equipped with special equipment:

  • heating lamp
  • feeding trough
  • a pallet for drinking and water procedures,
  • shelter house
  • UV lamp
  • hydrometer, thermometer,
  • soil.

Special terrarium lamps are installed to illuminate and heat the terrarium, they also help to produce vitamin D in reptiles and better absorb calcium. If you deprive land turtles of ultraviolet rays, their shells will soften, there will be a risk of rickets, and there will be a risk of fractures. Fill the bathing tank with warm water 1-2 times every 10-14 days, for water procedures, its level should reach the neck of the turtle. Put the feeder away from the lamp, filling it with food for 2-3 hours.

Ground turtle in terrarium

The maintenance of a land tortoise at home requires the obligatory presence of soil in the terrarium, otherwise the animal’s limbs will be deformed, the claws will wear out, scuffs may appear, and there is a danger of colds. The optimal soil thickness is a layer of 3-8 cm, consisting of coarse gravel, sawdust, hay (or a mixture of them), it must be changed once every 3-4 weeks. You can use ready-made, purchased soil, it is easier to change, so it becomes easier to care for turtles, and it will be cleaner in the terrarium.

When preparing a house for turtles, make sure that dangerous objects that can injure animals do not get into it. To entertain pets, place flat pebbles or driftwood in the terrarium, which reptiles can easily climb onto. Choosing a convenient soil for land turtles, pay attention to the size of its components, they must be those that the animal can not swallow.

Turtle Choice

Basically, they get Central Asian (steppe) turtles, which are not very demanding for care. They can grow up to 20 cm in length and are characterized by the presence of a small rounded shell of a yellow-brown hue in combination with brown spots.

To begin with, it shows its activity in the morning and evening hours, and during the day and night it rests in some kind of shelter. Based on this, we can conclude that for such a turtle it is necessary to create similar conditions.

The Central Asian tortoise goes into anabiotic state twice a year (falls into hibernation), thereby escaping from heat, cold and lack of food. This does not mean that she will do it at home, because she has enough food, and the temperature regime is in the optimal range.

Land Turtle Care

Caring for a land tortoise at home, as well as for other pets, includes some necessary rules that ensure the correct lifestyle:

  1. Bathing. It is necessary as a cleansing of dirt, in addition, it brings turtles great pleasure.
  2. Sewing and trimming claws. To care for the claws - you need a special clipper, you should remove the light area of ​​the claw, in the dark there are blood vessels.
  3. Keeping the terrarium clean. Timely soil replacement, processing of the terrarium with detergents, soda solution will ensure order and prevent the occurrence of infectious diseases.
  4. Microclimate. Maintaining stable temperature and humidity are necessary for a comfortable stay in the terrarium.
  5. The exercise. In the summer, in dry, warm weather, take a walk on the lawn for turtles, where soft grass grows or gravel is poured.
  6. Rational selection of proper nutrition.

Land tortoise shell care

Having wondered how to care for a land tortoise at home, many inexperienced owners try to lubricate the tortoise shell with cosmetic or cleaning products. We note right away that these actions are harmful, since the beauty and health of the carapace depend on the proper maintenance, care and diet. Various oils, lotions can clog under the delamination of the cover or remain in the pores of the shell, block the air and attract bacteria due to their stickiness.

Knowing how to properly care for the shell of a land tortoise, when a white coating appears on it, remove it by wiping the surface with lemon juice or Lugol's solution. If the tortoise began to exfoliate individual scutes on the carapace, this is a signal that an infection or fungus has entered the body. At the first signs of exfoliation, consult a veterinarian, it is possible to prescribe a special tool designed to lubricate the shell of reptiles.

Land tortoise feeding

The better the care of a land tortoise at home and the more varied the feeding, the less problems there will be regarding its health. The main diet (up to 85%) is food of plant origin (vegetables, fruits, herbs, berries). In order for reptiles to feel normal and develop correctly, add up to 5% of the total volume of animal food (earthworms, snails) to their feed. Vitamin supplements and cereals can make up to 10% of the volume, be sure to add calcium preparations to the food, they are necessary for the proper formation of the carapace.

Watching the behavior of your pet, over time you will understand how to care for the land tortoise, what she likes and what causes inconvenience. Gradually changing the living conditions and improving the contents of the terrarium, making a rational and tasty menu, you will find the best solution for creating comfortable living conditions for your pets.


The turtle at home is exotic, its appearance is unusual.

The head of these reptiles is streamlined and designed so that the animal is able to quickly pull it under the shell. In some species, the length of the neck is equal to the length of the shell.

These animals have a strong and hard beak with bulges inside, with sharp or jagged edges that serve as teeth.

The function of the carapace is protection. The dorsal (upper) part is called carapace, while the abdominal (lower) part is called plastron.

The size of the turtle is measured by the length of the shell. Determine the length using a ruler despite the fact that the surface of the dorsal portion is uneven.

Grow slowly throughout life. In adults, the length of the carapace is 20-30 cm.

The tail is hiding inside the shell. The tip of the tail in some species is pointed, similar to a spike.

Differences in Central Asian and rubella in appearance

AppearanceCentral AsianRubella
ColorYellow-beige color, on the shell formless dark spots.On karapaks characteristic stripes of olive, black, yellow.
PlastronDark color.Smooth, motley color: dark spots on a yellow background.
HeadThe upper jaw is hooked.From the eyes to the neck, on two sides are yellow-red lines resembling ears.
EyesLocated on the sides of the head as if looking down, small, black.Directed forward and upward, they are near the crown.
LimbsThe front legs are flat, designed to dig the ground, and the rear legs are powerful, strong. They have four fingers on their front legs with blunt claws.On the paws are leathery membranes for swimming.
DimensionsCubs are born 3-4 cm long, weighing 10-12 g. By the second year of life, the size will increase to 5 cm, to the fourth to 9 cm.

The weight of an adult turtle grows to 2 kg.A newborn cub is 2.4 cm long, during the first year of life it adds 2.5–4.5 cm. In two years, its size will be 8 cm, in six years - 18 cm.

Sensory organs

The turtles have good low-frequency hearing and excellent color vision.

Red-eared turtles have excellent smell and scent. They see both in water and above water. Hearing like cats: there are deaf sounds, vibration. Nerve endings pass through the shell. Animals with touch - discern the taste of food.

Aquatic turtles are not able to breathe under water, they float up for oxygen.

Life span

The average life expectancy of these animals in the natural environment is 20–30 years. In the conditions of the house, subject to the rules for care, pets will live up to 40-50 years.

In captivity, these reptiles grow faster, as they receive high-quality nutrition and a comfortable life.

When determining age, they are guided by the size, and also count the number of rings on the shell. In one year, 2-3 rings are formed. But this growth is not uniform, it is influenced by the conditions of detention, illness, hibernation.

In old individuals, the carapace is smooth, the annual rings are pale. The younger the turtle, the brighter its color.

Inappropriate content and disease are the main causes of death.

In another article, we examined in more detail how many turtles live.

Living space arrangement

Domestic turtles should not randomly walk around the apartment. The maintenance of turtles requires the organization of a separate enclosed space for them: a terrarium or an aquarium with special equipment.

The list of necessary equipment (for all types):

  • storage room / container (terrarium / aquarium),
  • ultraviolet lamp (for water UVB 5–10%, for land 10–12%),
  • heater / lamp for heating,
  • lamp,
  • temperature thermometer $
  • steady feeding trough.

For land turtles, this list includes a house for sleeping and relaxing.

Additional equipment for aquatic species:

  • 100 watts water heater,
  • filter (internal or external),
  • land / coast / islet.

Although red-eared aquarium turtles spend most of their time in the water, arrange a warm, dry place on land for them to rest and irradiate with ultraviolet light. The turtle will not turn it over if one side is sunk in the water. Material requirements for sushi: non-toxic, non-smooth, and rough, without sharp corners. Observe the following proportion: water - 3 parts in volume, land - 1 part.

In the natural environment, turtles climb onto driftwood, stones, and stable objects protruding from the water. It should also be convenient for them to climb onto the artificial shore in the aquarium.

The required volume of the aquarium for the Red-eared Turtle is from 200 liters. The larger the dwelling, the healthier the animal.

For land you need a terrarium with a capacity of 100 liters. Entirely glass or made of wood, but with one wall of transparent material.

In order for the pet to sleep, relax, take refuge, he needs a house inside the terrarium.

A ceramic flower pot, cut in half, with processed edges, is suitable for the house. Use for this purpose a plastic house for rodents or make of wood.

In terrariums, use hay as soil - it is easy to change. Do not pour sand to the bottom, as animals swallow it. A two-layer coating is laid: sand is below, large pebbles are above. The turtle sharpens its claws about it.

Do not put newspapers, expanded clay, sharp stones, cat litter in the terrarium.

Aquatic turtles do not need soil. For aesthetics, lay large sized stones down the aquarium. Gravel or other coating will not work; the animal will swallow it.

Pure water, the maintained temperature level is paramount in the content of aquatic species.

In the water, the red-eared turtle swims, sleeps, eats, goes to the toilet. In order not to accumulate ammonia, nitrates and an unpleasant odor, change the water a couple of times a week. Perform filtering in parallel with this.

Before replacing, stand up the water so that the chlorine disappears and the temperature becomes room temperature. Comfortable water temperature for them is 22–28 degrees, cooling of the temperature below 20 degrees is unacceptable.

For aquarium turtles, the water level exceeds the width of its shell, so that they swim, turn over without touching the bottom.

Outside the aquarium with water, the red-eared turtle will live only a couple of days.

Shore heating

For the Central Asian land near the feeder, a heater is installed. The required air temperature is 26 degrees.

Aquatic turtles go to the shore for heating. Surfaces are 10 degrees warmer than in water. Do not allow overheating - the animal’s hyperthermia, the permissible temperature on the shell is 30–35 degrees.

In order not to burn, the lamp is hung over the reptile, but not too close. Watch your pet while sunbathing. Make sure that splashes and fumes from water do not get on the lamp.

The daily operating mode of the incandescent lamp, heater and UV lamp is 10-12 hours.

Ultraviolet rays and heat help to absorb calcium and produce B vitamins. Without this, the animal runs the risk of getting rickets, the horn surfaces will be curved.

A heating lamp, a UV lamp is installed above the turtle. Change them every six months.

The diet of land species is mainly vegetable:

  • vegetables (carrots, cabbage, cucumber, salad),
  • greens (plantain, dandelion),
  • fruits (apple, melon, watermelon),
  • berries (raspberries, strawberries).

Offer various cereals (oatmeal, semolina, buckwheat).

For vitamins, add high calcium foods, raw minced meat, and boiled eggs to your normal diet.Give calcium also as an additive in food.

The Central Asian turtle receives the bulk of the fluid with food, as well as through the skin when taking a bath. A drinker with liquid is not poured to them, separately they do not drink water.

  • 70% - plant food (salad, cucumber, zucchini, nettle, seaweed, duckweed),
  • 30% - animal (meat, fish, seafood, worms, insects, bloodworms, guppy fry).

Aquatic turtles are omnivores. Feed regular food and artificial food, fish food, aquarium plants and insects.

Turtles feed up to two years daily every day. During this period, animal protein predominates in their diet. As animals grow, the proportion of plant feed increases.

Vegetables are included in the diet, even if the animal does not show appetite for them. The older it is, the more fiber is needed.

Feeding schedule for adults: once every two to three days. Do not overfeed your pet. To maintain a balance in nutrition, special feeds have been developed.

Aquatic turtles use water to swallow, as they do not produce saliva. They eat in the aquarium. It is better to feed them in a designated place, this will help to keep the home clean longer.

Read more about what turtles eat at home in a separate article.

Room cleaning

Clean the bottom and walls of the terrarium from animal waste products every day. Wash dishes for feeding and drinking as they become dirty.

The turtle aquarium also needs to be cleaned twice a month.

Land tortoise care includes weekly water treatments. In a small container with warm water at a temperature of 30–35 degrees, lower the animal for half an hour. The head should be above the water. After bathing, wipe the turtle dry.

Claw trimming

Over the life of these animals, the shell, beak and claws grow. Take care of the claws of a domestic turtle.

When the beak and claws grow to such a size that it becomes difficult for the animal to move and eat, remove them. For this procedure, special nippers are used.

With aquatic species of turtles, such actions do not.

Turtles are molted.

In aquatic species, the separation of large scales on the shell and skin changes occur regularly throughout life.

Land turtles change only the skin on the legs, this happens unnoticed.


In nature, animals start mating games in March and June, and at home they mate all year. In good conditions, the female will lay 3-4 clutches of two dozen eggs per season.

For a pregnant female, prepare a suitable nest.

During pregnancy, the female stays on land for more time, her need for calcium and UV rays increases.

Sex determination

In most species, females are larger than individuals of the opposite sex. The cesspool is closer to the tail and has a star shape.

In males, the tail is longer; the genital organ is located in it. Their claws are stronger, thicker, bent, a plastron of a curved shape, this helps with mating.

Trachemys reach maturity in a year, because they grow faster than other species. It is possible to accurately determine the sex in males at the age of 2–4 years, in females - at 3-5 years. Then the size exceeds 10 cm. Read more about the field of red-eared turtles in a separate article.

In Central Asian sex, it becomes apparent when the age of the reptile reaches 6-10 years. One can distinguish a female from a male by the number of horny tubercles on the inner side of the thigh. The female has 3-5, the male one.


The immunity of small turtles is not strong, they are susceptible to diseases, sensitive to conditions of detention, among them high mortality. Observe the nutrition of newborns, adapt the environment for them.

For some time after birth, babies do not eat the food they offer. They get food from the yolk sac on the plastron. Do not touch or remove it! When this bag dissolves, the little turtle begins to eat in the usual way. A high calcium diet is essential in the diet.

Kids are very gentle, shy, easily fall into a state of stress. Protect them from excessive unrest, surround with care. Do not pick up unnecessarily, do not stand over the aquarium, do not knock, do not make noise loudly.

It is important to ensure a constant temperature for the pups: for water 26–27 degrees and for air (land) 32 degrees. Keep the water clean, pass through the filter, change every two days.

Children of the red-eared tortoise cannot tolerate drafts, direct sunlight. Give them access to a place on land heated by a special lamp. Children turtles are kept at warmer temperatures than adults.

Two or three times a week, babies are bathed. The washing procedure in children, as in adults.

Fighting and aggression

Trachemys are active, strong and prone to aggression. They try to dominate the living space and attack the skulls of other species and relatives, take away food from each other. They inflict wounds, bite.

If a new tenant appears in the aquarium, this provokes fights among sexually mature individuals. Males attack females, causing serious injury or even death. This behavior is normal for this species of turtles.

Thoughtful care and maintenance helps to reduce aggression in turtles. Try to increase the room where they live, establish restrictions, barriers inside the aquarium so that they do not see each other.

Feed the animals one at a time outside the walls of the aquarium in a special dining area. Or keep each animal in a separate space. Trachemys love loneliness, live quietly without a pair.

Health and Disease

Animal health is 90% determined by compliance with the rules for the care, nutrition and keeping of turtles in a home aquarium.

Tips for maintaining animal health:

  • for sick turtles, the temperature of the content is raised to 27-30 degrees (for immunity),
  • maintain fluid balance, avoid dehydration (the turtle should be in water, drink),
  • in a sick animal, reduce the water level in the aquarium so that it does not drown (if the turtle does not swim well, it should be able to freely go ashore),
  • if infection is suspected, isolate the animal, treat your hands after contact,
  • do not self-medicate; consult a herpetologist-veterinarian for help.

In nature, hibernation is a reaction to adverse environmental conditions, cold and heat. Such a dream for animals helps to survive these periods.

At home, where they are comfortable, there is no need to hibernate. Do not stimulate hibernation!

Take the turtles out into the fresh air so that they receive natural sunlight. Take it to the courtyard of the house in the city, take it with you to the summer cottage.

For a walk, try to choose dry, sunny, calm, warm weather. At temperatures below 25 degrees and in other weather conditions, it is better to keep the animal at home.

Take your pet to a clean, quiet place with little shade and vegetation. She gladly eats fresh clover, plantain, dandelion.

In the country house for a land tortoise, build a special paddock for walking, for a water one - your own pool.

During the walk, provide the animal with constant supervision so that it does not eat anything harmful, does not get hurt, does not run away. Protect it from insects, animals, birds, children, from overheating and cooling.

Arriving home, inspect the pet for wounds and contaminants. If you get very dirty - wash them.

Precautionary measures

  1. Aquarists advise taking the turtle carefully, holding it firmly with both hands. Gently: the animal hisses, bites, pours the contents of the intestines.
  2. The bacterial environment of the turtle is different from ours. They are carriers of salmonella. If you touch the animal, be sure to wash your hands with soap.
  3. Do not wash your pet in the kitchen sink, as well as the aquarium and accessories.
  4. Keep clean in the aquarium or terrarium, do not let the feed stale.

Before you get a turtle, read the description of the features of care, get everything you need to ensure a comfortable life. Be prepared for the extra costs associated with keeping turtles in your home.

After the purchase, show the turtle to the veterinarian. He will determine the age, sex of the animal, examine for wounds, injuries, infections, diseases.

In a new place, the turtle will need an adaptation period to get comfortable. Do not bother her again, provide proper care and nutrition.

If you buy a new animal in the company of living, organize a quarantine zone for a beginner for three months. Do not hook cubs to adults, they will be injured. Combine in one space can only be similar in size and animal welfare.

In addition to the terrarium or aquarium with additional equipment, a lamp for heating, include in the cost of good quality food, for examination or treatment at the veterinarian.


The content of these reptiles at home has many advantages. Aquarium turtles and their terrestrial counterparts are hypoallergenic, not whimsical, hardy, do not leave wool, do not require daily walking. If you decide to have a red-eared turtle or a land tortoise, you can study a separate article about it.

Approach questions on their life support responsibly, this requires competent care and attention.

The content of the article

  • How to care for a turtle
  • How to cure a turtle
  • Rubella turtles

First of all, choose a home for your pet. The type of dwelling depends on the type of turtle itself. If you start a land, it will need land and some water. These animals live in temperate and subtropical latitudes, they have a hibernation period, take this into account when creating a home for them.

You can make a securely enclosed space and fill it with earth. Turtles love to hide, so make sure there are special recesses in the ground for this. Also install a container of water in which the turtle can swim. This is especially important during the hot season. If you have a water turtle, you will need a large amount of water. The amount of land depends on the particular species of aquatic turtles, some of them do not require land at all. Dwellings of all types of turtles can be found outdoors. It should be located under the open sun, among a large number of vegetation harmless to them. If you keep a turtle at home (in a terrarium or aquarium), you need to create an appropriate atmosphere for it, for example, install a heat source and a powerful light source, you will also need to build an artificial reservoir.

Turtles are very finicky when it comes to food. You can try to feed them different foods, provided that you know about its harmlessness. Land turtles, as a rule, are herbivores, they are happy to eat leafy foods. They also eat strawberries, raspberries, bananas, dandelion flowers, apples, peaches and canned fruits. Aquatic turtles often eat animal food. They can be fed shrimp, snails, grasshoppers, earthworms, crickets, etc. In their diet should also be plant foods (vegetables and fruits). Remember that turtles usually eat every 3 to 4 days. You do not need to feed your pet every day, unless you have been told about this when purchasing it.

Terrarium Content

Very often owners of turtles make the same gross mistake: they keep it on the floor. This is strictly prohibited, as there may be the following consequences:

  • The turtle can catch a cold, as it needs to be warmed up from time to time.
  • May catch an infection.
  • May be injured.

Its habitat is a terrarium, as it were, that they did not say.

Temperature and lighting

The temperature regime in the terrarium is supported by an incandescent lamp, rated at 75 W, installed at a height of 20-30 cm from the bottom of the terrarium. In the daytime, the temperature in the terrarium should be: in the shade + 28-30 ° С, and in the lamp area + 36-38 ° С. The terrarium is illuminated by a fluorescent lamp.

In the terrarium, you must definitely take a place for shelter. They have shelter in the shade, and you can make it from any material, even from thick cardboard.

The turtle needs water treatments, about 1 time per week. To do this, you need to take a bowl a little larger than a turtle and pour water in it at a temperature of about + 25 ° C and organize a bath. The water should be clean, and its level reached the neck of the turtle.

Feeding a tortoise

In summer, the basis of the diet of a land tortoise is green. This is about 2/3 of the entire menu. It can be:

The remaining 1/3 of the diet includes fruits and vegetables. They should be alternated and given after 2-3 feedings.

In winter, 2/3 of the ration is steamed hay, and the remaining 1/3 is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. Feeding is carried out once a day and, although the turtle may not be watered, a drinker with fresh water should always be present.

It will not be superfluous to recall that the more varied the diet, the greater the guarantee that the turtle will live happily ever after, without any health problems. This can only be if they do not forget about it over time, and it does not bother family members, especially children.