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Red-bellied turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans): what is important for keepers to know?

Red-eared tortoises – are one of the most common exotic pets, which have become very popular after the movie “Ninja Turtles”. Red-eared tortoises are not very pampered and can therefore be chosen by beginner exotic pet keepers. In the wild, red-eared tortoises are found in North America, while in Europe, North Africa and Asia, red-eared tortoises are considered an invasive species (they occupy other animals’ habitats and crowd in fauna that have existed for millennia).

Size of red-eared turtles

Some inexperienced exotic animal lovers are impressed by the size of red-eared tortoises – the tortoises sold in pet shops  are usually only 5 cm in size, so it is assumed that they will need a very small vivarium. Small turtles are extremely cute and children are tempted to buy them. However, this should not be the case – in fact, red-eared tortoises can becan grow up to 28 cm in size. Red-bellied turtles reach a size of about 7.5 cm in the first year and a half, and then grow by about 1-1.5 cm each year.

Setting up the aquarium

Red-eared turtles are semi-aquatic animals and require a semi-aquatic vivarium. One third of the vivarium should be land and two thirds water (the turtle needs to be able to bathe and cool down after entering the water, so it is important to have different zoous). The temperature of the cool zone should be the same as the water (around 27° C). The substrate in this zone should be either non-corrosive or easily digestible (for example, you may choose coral sand). A young red-bellied turtle can be kept in an 80 cm long vivarium, whereas an adult turtle will need more space (it is recommended to choose a vivarium of at least 1.25 m in length). Each vivarium should be equipped with a filter for water purification as well as for heating.this lamp. Heating lamps can be incandescent or infrared. If the aim is to incorporate as much heat as possible, ceramic infrared lamps are recommended, but it is important to know that they do not emit light. It is equally important to install a UV lamp, which is essential for the synthesis of vitamin D3.

Red-bellied turtle diet

Although the diet of red-bellied turtles may seem simple at first glance, the subalnsuring a balanced diet requires some effort. The first difficulty for keepers is getting the turtle to eat on land (which is why it is quite tricky to give vitamins and minerals to the pet, as they simply dissolve in the water). Red-bellied turtles are often deficient in vitamin D3 and calcium, and it is therefore advisable to supplement these vitamins and minerals. Red-eared turtles are omnivores and can be given live food, meat and raw food.mines. Red-bellied turtles are fed daily for the first two years and then every 2-3 days thereafter. Food should be given as much as the turtles can eat in 20-30 minutes. You can add guppies, crustaceans or other small fish, mosquito larvae, earthworms to the water. Occasionally, turtles can be given lean meat (such as veal or poultry). Red-eared slider turtles will eat salad leaves, grapes, blueberries, cranberries and raspberries, but it is important to be aware that they should not be fed grasskale, mushrooms and pineapple. If you want to keep a complete diet as simple as possible, you can choose a special dry food available in the shops (although you will need to give fresh food from time to time).

Breeding red-bellied turtles

In captivity, red-eared turtles reach sexual maturity at 6-8 years of age, whereas in captivity sexual maturity is faster: males mature at 4 years of age and females – 5-6 years old. In captivity, red-eared slider turtles can reproduce for a whole year – about 6-10 eggs are laid at a time. The incubation temperature should be +21-30° C. However, it is important to be aware that breeding red-eared tortoises is not as easy as it may seem at first sight: if these exotic animals are not provided with the right conditions, the majority of the baby tortoises may not survive or may simply not hatch.

How do you know if your pet is healthy?

Pastet is not always easy to detect diseases in exotic animals: it is often the case that veterinarians are contacted too late. To avoid this, it is very important to keep an eye on the condition of your red-bellied tortoise and to contact an exotic animal specialist as soon as possible if you notice anything unusual. When examining a red-bellied tortoise, you should first assess the condition of its armour – it should be strong and uninjured. The eyes should be open and glossy, and there should be no cracks on them

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