CARING FOR YOUR LONG-NECKED TURTLE
Your turtle must be kept in an environment with a suitable temperature range, humidity and daylength. Disease problems in turtles are commonly associated with poor maintenance of these, particularly temperature.
· Smaller turtles are best kept in glass aquaria, while larger ones may be housed in outdoor enclosures.
· Most Australian turtles have a preferred body temperature (PBT) of 26ºC and their enclosure should provide a temperature range 2-3ºC either side of this PBT, with wet hiding areas and warm basking spots.
· To achieve this, one end of the enclosure should contain water heated to 22-25ºC. This water should be deep enough for the turtle to completely submerge itself and swim freely.
· The other end should be large enough for the turtle to walk around and dry itself completely. An area for basking, important in preventing skin and respiratory infections, can be achieved through the use of a 40-75 watt globe or infrared heatlamp placed over one section — the ideal temperature below the globe is 25-30ºC.
· Logs, rocks and clean terracotta pots can be placed in and out of the water for use as climbing and hiding platforms.
· A source of ultraviolet light, either through exposure to unfiltered, natural sunlight, or an artificial UV light, is necessary to help prevent Vitamin D deficiency and skin and bone disorders. Replace the light every 6months as it will lose strength, even though the light still works.
· The water must be partially changed 2-3 times a week and uneaten food and faeces removed daily. Water filters are also useful.
· Turtles only eat in the water — they will refuse food if it is placed elsewhere.
· Feeding frequency is generally once daily for young turtles and three times a week for older turtles. Some turtles may take several weeks to accept new foods.
· Turtles should be fed a varied diet of whole fish (preferably live), whole mice, yabbies, shrimps, worms and insects. These should be cut into bite-sized pieces. Some will also eat water plants. Raw red meat and mince is not an appropriate diet as they lack calcium and many vitamins.
· Calcium is important for strong bones and shells — without this your turtle will develop a rubbery texture to the shell and curling of the shell edges, a condition known as "soft shell".
· Worm every 6 months.
· Book a yearly health check to check faeces and detect general health problems
eg parasite infestations and bacterial infections.
· Annual blood screening and/or bacterial cultures are recommended for certain pet turtles.
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