Anyone who thinks turtles are undemanding is mistaken. Young animals in particular need a lot of care. A few leaves of lettuce are not enough.
If you want to keep a young tortoise as a pet, you should be aware that the reptiles can get very old - well over 100 years, depending on the species.
They are hardly bigger than a two-euro coin. If they tap around with their short legs and peek out from under their armor, not only children's hearts beat faster. However, if you want to keep a young tortoise as a pet, you should be aware that the reptiles can get very old - well over 100 years depending on the species. And the attitude is not as undemanding as many think.
Tortoises: Young animals are very sensitive
“People always think you can't go wrong with turtles. However, it takes a lot of know-how and effort so that keeping is species-appropriate, ”says Maik Schilde from the German Society for Herpetology and Terrarium Science. If the conditions are not right, illness, deformities, or even early death could result. Young animals in particular are affected. Because of their low weight and the still weak defenses, they react a lot more sensitively to incorrect posture.
Keep tortoises outdoors
Therefore, beginners should be smart before buying, for example by reading books on keeping turtles and getting advice from breeders or associations. Number one on the to-do list is setting up a home. The same applies to young animals as to adult animals: "With the exception of a few species that come from very hot countries, tortoises shouldn't be kept in a terrarium, but in an outdoor enclosure," says Andreas Beck from the Turtle Protection and Breeding Interest Group.
Turtles need sun and temperature fluctuations
There they benefit from the sun and temperature fluctuations, which are important for the cold-blooded animals. If the temperature is constant, however, they can develop kidney disease, and too little UV-B radiation weakens bones and armor.
Outdoor enclosure for young turtles
The enclosure should be between one and five square meters for young turtles. A fence made of wood or stone makes it escape-proof. Other important details are a turtle-friendly floor - such as grass or earth - and a lattice roof or net that protects them from predators.
Design of the enclosure: plants, water, shelter
When designing the enclosure, keepers are best guided by nature. There should be plants in the dwelling that the reptiles can eat or use as shade providers. They also need rocks for climbing and cave-like hiding spots. A shallow water hole is suitable for bathing and drinking. "And since turtles do not produce their own body heat and it is not so warm and sunny here, they need a shelter made of glass or transparent plastic," explains Silvia Blahak from the Veterinary Association for Animal Welfare (tvt).
Heat lamps as a substitute for the sun
In order to bridge longer periods of bad weather, owners can also install UV and heat lamps. In this way, sun and heat can be produced artificially. From the beginning of November to mid-March, however, the turtles should no longer be in the open-air enclosure. “Some bring them into the house and let them hibernate in the terrarium. But it is more appropriate to let them go into winter rigor, ”says Schilde. Rigidity can take place in a specially prepared pit outside or in a box filled with leaves and earth in the basement or refrigerator.
Young turtles need a lot of moisture
Care is also important for the well-being of the small reptiles. This includes that the keeper cleans feed and drinking vessels daily and clears the enclosure of excrement. In addition, the animals are not allowed to dry out: “There should always be damp, dark corners in the enclosure. And as long as the turtles are young, it's best to spray them with water every day, because they need a lot of moisture, ”says Beck. Otherwise, a lack of moisture can lead to kidney and armor damage.
Food: wild herbs, grass and hay
The same applies to incorrect feeding. "Actually, from an early age, tortoises should be fed mainly wild herbs such as dandelion, ribwort and clover, as well as grass and hay," says Schilde. In fact, they are often served vegetables, fruit and salad or ready-made feed, which can be problematic in the long run. Fruit, for example, leads to intestinal problems because of its high sugar content. Ready-made pellets are so rich in protein that the turtles become overweight and grow too quickly.
Calcium strengthens the shell
However, young turtles should have enough calcium available in the form of sepia or eggshells. "The fabric is important for the strength of bones and armor," says Blahak.
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Vaccinations are not necessary
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| Updated November 12, 2015
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