Aquatic turtles can be excellent pets that only require light to moderate work to properly care for them. This is no doubt one of the reasons that 2 million people in the United States have them as pets. They have long lifespans and have a lot of personality, making them interesting to observe.
One such aquatic turtle is the African Sideneck Turtle. African Sideneck Turtles are growing in popularity in the pet world thanks to their relative ease of care and entertaining personalities.
Like their aquatic turtle cousins, they also have a long lifespan, so it is important to know how to care for them properly and over a long period of time—sometimes up to two decades!
Read on to find out more about the African Sideneck Turtle and how to care for it so that you can enjoy a long friendship with your new pet turtle.
African Sideneck Turtle Care
Caring for an African Sideneck Turtle is a relatively easy thing to do as long as you are consistent and educated on their physiology and nutritional needs. Knowing what to feed them, how to keep them warm, and how to keep them clean and healthy are all vital components in African Sideneck Turtle care.
What Do African Sideneck Turtles Eat?
Like most other aquatic turtles that people keep as pets, African Sideneck Turtles are omnivores. That means that they will eat both vegetables and some forms of animal protein. Some examples of things that are readily available for pet owners just about anywhere include:
- Leafy Green Plant Material
- Turtle Pellets
- Insects (like Dubia roaches)
- Small Fish
You should never attempt to feed your turtle something that they wouldn't eat in the wild. Beef, chicken, or other kinds of land-dweller meat are all good examples of things they shouldn't be fed. Some turtles have tastes for certain things more than others, so it's important to keep an eye on what they like to make sure they're eating right.
Keep Your African Sideneck Turtle Warm
Since turtles are cold-blooded, they require warmth from the sun or a sufficient artificial replacement. They need both heat and light to stay healthy, so having both a heat lamp and some kind of UV-emitting light is vital.
The UV light not only helps them to properly metabolize calcium, but it also helps them maintain a realistic and healthy day-night schedule as they would outside of captivity.
The heat lamp is necessary to help them maintain a healthy internal body temperature. An ambient temperature of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit will usually do the trick. The "sunbathing" area of the enclosure should stay significantly warmer—in the 90 to 95-degree range.
Housekeeping Is Important
To keep your new pet clean, you will need to invest in a good-quality filter. If the filter gets too dirty or clogged, the water that your turtle lives in will begin to become toxic because of the feces and other bodily fluids that the turtle naturally produces.
Keeping the tank clean is of the utmost importance, as is maintaining a safe size of the substrate at the bottom of the tank. Try to avoid substrates that the turtle could accidentally choke on by looking at its size. While it's not the greatest thing for the turtle to ingest the substrate, you need to be more worried about choking hazards.
Keeping the turtle's housing free of human household debris (here's looking at you, toddler toys) is also important to help prevent choking.
Make Sure They Have a Clean Environment
An oft-forgotten step in turtle tank housekeeping is making sure to dechlorinate the water before putting it in the tank. This can be done by letting it sit out for a day before adding it to the tank or by using a dechlorination solution. Regardless of the method, you should try to maintain a pH of around 6.5 at all times.
Give Them Room to Stretch Out
Another important aspect of owning an African Sideneck Turtle is making sure you give it enough room to move around. The minimum recommended size for a tank should be 110 gallons, but we've never met a turtle who didn't like a bigger place to live.
Additionally, the pond portion of the tank should never be deeper than one and a half times the total length of the turtle, and it also needs some space to sunbathe.
What About When They Get Sick?
Before bringing your new friend home, you should identify a veterinarian within a reasonable distance of your home that is proficient in turtle healthcare. Many of the African Sideneck Turtle's most common problems are usually simple to identify after one trip to the vet.
Its common health issues include:
- Respiratory Infections
- Vitamin A Deficiency
If your turtle has parasites (as turtles are prone to have), they aren't likely to show symptoms until it's too late. Parasites can typically only be identified by a veterinarian doing an examination, so it's important to get them in for an initial check-up.
If it is suffering from a Vitamin A deficiency, its eyes will swell up and begin to secrete fluid. Vitamin A supplements are common and can be found at most reptile feeder businesses.
Respiratory issues like infections look and sound a lot like they do in humans. The turtle will be sluggish and struggle for breath. You may even hear them wheezing.
All of these issues should be cared for by a vet.
Keep Your Turtle Healthy and Happy
Caring for your African Sideneck Turtle may sound like a lot of work, but it's pretty simple, especially if you are feeding them nutritious foods and keeping their environs in order. One of their favorite foods is dubia roaches, and they are a very good source of the nutrients that your pet needs.
If you'd like to see how your African Sideneck Turtle likes dubias, give us a call and we'll be happy to get you all set up!