No pets allowed! This is what most read when signing the dotted line on a renter’s agreement. But having a pet for your child is an important step in their development. It teaches responsibilities and gives them a companion to express love to. While most places, when it says “no pets allowed,” mean cats, dogs, and birds; it is still possible to enrich your child’s life (or even your own) with a pet. However instead of a hamster, why not invest in a Painted turtle.
The Painted turtle, known as Chrysemys picta by the scientific community, is a reptile of beauty.There are four types (or sub-species) of painted turtle: Western, Midland, Eastern, and Southern. The Southern painted turtle is the only sub-species with a stripe down its back; the Western painted turtle is the state reptile of Colorado. These sub-species can interbreed, creating mixes that share the respective traits of each type.
The painted turtle has red and yellow stripes on its head, tail and feet and thats why it received its name. Outside of an owners home Painted turtles are found in ponds, shallow waters, and marshes all over the United States. This turtle can grow from 4 to 10 inches.
Painted turtles are omnivores – which mean they eat both plant and meat. However, while they are young and juvenile, they will mostly eat meat. As they get older their appetites are more diverse eating: snails, slugs, small crayfish, fish eggs, small fish, Algae, Lilly pads, etc.; basically anything you find in the pond small enough to fit in its mouth. Because reptiles are cold-blooded they must regulate their body temperature by “sunning” themselves. This is the act of lying out in the sun to warm their temperature.
Because Painted turtles are reptiles and found over a variety of areas in the United States, they both sun themselves and hibernate when the temperature becomes too frigid to effectively regulate their body temperature. Most times they can be seen sunning themselves, during the summer, on old logs. Sometimes, there can be numerous turtles just hanging out on an old log enjoying themselves on a lazy sunny afternoon. Knowing these facts help us to set up the perfect environment to keep your pet.
It is recommended that young turtles and juveniles be kept in a 20-40 gallon tank. Adults need more room and thus require, at minimum, 80 gallon aquarium. These tanks are filled with water that is about 6-8 inches deep. You may need to increase the amount of water in the tank depending on the turtles size. The object is for the turtle to have enough room to swim around in. Knowing that they enjoy sunbathing tells us we need a place for them to do so and a heat lamp to simulate the sun. An old log or a big rock will make the perfect place for them to hang out and get a tan. The age of your turtle will determine what you feed them. Younger turtles will love a diet of bugs; especially, a diet consisting of crickets that you can buy at the pet store. The older turtles will eat vegetables along with the bugs. If ever your turtle should refuse to eat it is recommended that you try something different. Try using a smaller portion and work it in with food they do enjoy. While the painted turtle isn’t as cuddly as the dog or cat, it will be a pet that you or your child will enjoy handling. Not to mention they are a blast to watch. To see them swim around and just do what turtles do naturally is a fun experience that not only can be fun but bring some well deserved Joy to your life.
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