Turtletopia

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Archive for the ‘Habitat’ Category

Attack of the Sea Turtle

Attack of the Sea Turtle

Attack of the Sea Turtle

This photo came attached to an interesting article regarding the masses of jellyfish that are swarming to a national park on the small island of Cabrera. (That’s to the south of Majorca, Spain, for those who didn’t know, like me.) Apparently, there are too many of them to clear and the environmentalists are losing the battle.

Photo via MyTelegraph.co.uk

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Constructing an Outdoors Turtle Pen

Outdoor Turtle Pen

Outdoor Turtle Pen

One option for the serious turtle keeper is to construct an outdoor turtle pen. This project is most satisfying in areas where climate allows the turtles to be kept outside permanently; in most areas of the country winter conditions necessitate bringing the turtles inside during cold weather. If you keep turtles native to your area, however, they can hibernate naturally right inside their pen.

The pen should be as large as practical, and should contain a variety of microhabitats–areas of shade as well as areas of sun. It is very important that the turtle pen have at least some areas of shade at all times during the day, as unprotected tortoises can overheat quickly in a full midday sun. At the same time, basking spots must always be available. The turtles should be able to thermoregulate by moving from sun to shade as needed.

Several large, flat rocks can serve as basking spots and as heat retainers. You will also need some rock caves where the turtles can retreat for shade and whenever they need to feel secure. If the bulk of the pen area is left in its natural state, with several inches of soil, some leaf litter and vegetation, the turtles will spend most of their time happily digging and foraging for invertebrates and edible plants. Make sure there are no toxic plants anywhere in the enclosure.

A colony of aquatic turtles can be kept outside in an artificial pond. To produce an artificial pond, an area the size and depth that you want the finished pond to be must be dug out. A good pond should be a minimum of ten feet across anfrd at least two feet deep, with no rocks or other protruding objects left at the bottom of the hole.

Once you have excavated a suitable hole, line it with a strong waterproof material, such as butyl rubber, that serves the same function as a swimming pool liner. This prevents leaks and keeps the pond water from draining away, and should be as thick as practical to prevent tears. The liner should overlap the edges of the pond by about a foot with the overlapping edge covered over by several inches of rocks and soil to hold it firmly in place.

Next, fill the interior of the liner with four or five inches of clean sand, to push the liner flat against the bottom and to protect it from rocks, branches, turtle claws and other potential sources of puncture. Once the liner is firmly in place, add enough water to fill the pond.

Shallow areas near the shore of an artificial pond can be planted with cattails, pickerel weed and other aquatic plants that provide cover for young turtles and attract insect life to the pond. The turtles can use a number of flat rocks scattered along the shore as entry and exit ramps and as basking spots. Another good idea is to place a large tree branch or trunk in the pond, so it forms a long basking platform that can be reached from either land or water. Most aquatic turtles prefer to bask on logs or branches that extend out into the water so they can dive to safety at the first hint of danger.

If you live in an area of the country where winters are cool, it is best to stock your pond only with native species, or at least only species from temperate zones that normally hibernate in the winter. The turtles will bury themselves in the sand at the bottom of the pond or in the mud at the shores to hibernate through the winter.

If you live in an area that is warm year-round, you will be able to maintain tropical species in your pond. Any nonnative species of turtle must be kept securely in your pond to prevent them from escaping and becoming established in the local ecosystem.

The perimeter of the turtle pen can be made from wooden planks, bricks or stones. The wall must be at least several inches higher than the length of the longest turtle you will be keeping. If you make the wall just high enough that you can step over it, the turtles will be prevented from climbing out and you will be spared the necessity of making a door or gate for the pen. If you are keeping turtles that are good climbers, it is best to have an overhanging lip around the inside top of the wall to prevent escapes.

Since tortoises are excellent diggers, you will need some provision to discourage your pets from tunneling their way to freedom. Sink all the walls of the pen a foot or so into the ground. Although the turtles may repeatedly attempt to dig their way underneath the fence, eventually they will tire and give up. If you intend to keep the turtles in their pen year-round, there must be enough dirt and leaf litter available for the turtles to get beneath the frost line so they can hibernate in winter.

Excerpted from “The Turtle: An Owner’s Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet”. (c) copyright 1997 by Howell Book House.

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Cleaning Ponds

backyard pond
“backyard pond” by massdistraction on flickr

Here are some easy to follow directions for cleaning your pond once it has been set up:

  1. Remove marginal plants first and store them temporarily in a shady spot, watering them regularly to prevent them drying out.
  2. Wrap any wilting plants in damp newspaper for temporary protection.
  3. Net off floating plants and keep them in buckets or trays of water.
  4. Place a temporary container for the fish and turtles somehwere near the pond, but shaded from the heat of the sun. A round wading pool with a good surface area is ideal.
  5. Fill the wading pool with the cleanest water drawn from near the surface of the pond.
  6. Unless the water is particularly foul, save as much as you can at this stage in buckets, so that the balance will be quickly restore in the refilled pond.
  7. Use the rest of the water from the pond for watering flowerbeds and shrubs.
  8. It is easier to catch the fish and turtles when the pond is nearly empty; this is now the time to do so.
  9. Make sure the wading pool is sufficiently aerated by installing a circulation pump or air stone.
  10. If you also have fish, cover the container with a tight-fitting fine mesh net to prevent the fish from leaping out.
  11. Drain the pond as low as possible and double check for any small fish you have overlooked.
  12. Remove the layer of debris on the pond base with a dustpan and bucket rather than the pump.
  13. If you need to step into the pond, check that the base will support your weight.
  14. Rinse the pond down and brush off any excess blanket weed from the sides.
  15. Begin refilling the pond.
  16. Reposition the plants in the pond as soon as it is sufficiently full.
  17. Add a water conditioner to the inflowing water to neutralize any chlorine.
  18. If you manage to save any of the old water, add it to the pond.
  19. Allow the water in the refilled pond to warm slightly before transferring the fish back in.
  20. Return any floating plants.
  21. The pond will take some time to settle and may appear rather cloudy for a few weeks.
  22. Feed the fish, but only sparingly at first. Avoid adding any new fish until the pond has completely recovered and established the nitrogen cycle once again.
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Get the Complete Turtle Guide Book!

I know many of you come here looking for advice regarding caring for your turtles and tortoises. It just so happens I found an excellent care book online called the Turtle Guide Book. The video above shows an overview of the book. The chapters include:

* Is a Turtle the Right pet for you?
* Common Turtle Profiles
* Getting Started with your Turtle
* Ongoing Care for your Turtle
* Breeding Turtles (something I have no idea about on this website)
* Looking After your Turtles Health
* Turtle Behaviour and Activity
* Training a Turtle
* Summary
* Best Buys
* Turtle Quiz
* Useful Turtle Links

You learn lots of information about caring for turtles and tortoises and all it takes is 30 minutes of your time. Go get more information on the Turtle Guide Book!

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Sea Turtle Bites Camera Then Winks

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Fish vs. Turtle

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Tiger Sharks vs. Turtles

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Indoor Turtle Pen

Winter is around the corner for most places, so if you’ve acquired a pet turtle friend, you might want to consider making an indoor pen like this guy did.

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Box Turtle Outdoor Pen

Here’s an excellent example of a great box turtle outdoor pen by Box Turtle Site. One of the prettiest I’ve seen.

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Pet Turtle Care: My Turtle Won’t Eat

Expertvillage has tons of great videos on pet turtle care. I’ll be posting a few in the coming weeks.

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