Get our fun facts and care tips for World Turtle Day
May 21, 2022
World Turtle Day near the end of May, helps us to highlight how we can celebrate and protect the wellbeing of turtles and tortoises across the world. Exotic Vet Calum Aitken, at our Denny practice, has taken this opportunity to share some advice and fun facts about these wonderful creatures.
Calums’ guide to caring for pet turtles & tortoises
Turtles and tortoises are both reptiles from the order of Testudines (turtle), but in different classification families. The major differences are that tortoises will spend all their life on land and have herbivorous diets, and turtles live mostly in water and have omnivorous diets. Turtles are adapted for aquatic life and have webbed feet or flippers, as well as a streamlined body – sea turtles venture onto land to lay eggs, and freshwater turtles (from lakes & pond) enjoy basking in the warm sun on logs or rocks.
For pet turtles and tortoises, their basic needs include:
- A suitable enclosure with ample room for growth and a place to bask
- An appropriate heat source, thermostat, and thermometer
- An ultraviolet (UV) emitting light
- A safe substrate
- Hides for the enclosure
- Special food and water bowls
- A tailored diet for your type of pet turtle or tortoise
- The correct PH water for swimming (turtles) and spring water for drinking
- Veterinary care with an Exotic Vet – talk to our team at Apex Vets
Overall, turtles and tortoises can make great pets, but it is vital to conduct thorough research before getting one, including hibernation habits and handling and hygiene advice. You also need to be in it for the long run – some turtles can live up to 20 years, and tortoises even longer! Calum recommends adopting a tortoise or turtle from a rescue centre if possible.
Do you have a pet turtle or tortoise? Why not share a photo of them on Apex Vets’ Facebook page and brighten up everyone’s day?
Celebrating World Turtle Day!
Turtles and tortoises are assets to our planet – here are 10 fun facts about them:
- Turtles are said to have evolved 200 million years ago – that’s longer than crocodiles!
- The oldest tortoise in the world currently (Johnathan) is 190 years old
- Charles Darwin and Steve Irwin both cared for a Galapagos female tortoise called Harriet who lived until the grand age of 176
- In some species, temperature determines if turtle eggs become male or female
- Turtles help to manage the amount of prey in the ocean to maintain a balanced ecosystem
- Some species of tortoise dig burrows which house up to 350 different species of insect
- Turtles can live in most climates if it’s warm enough for them to breed (except antarctica)
- Tortoises empty their lungs before going into their shell and don’t need to come out for oxygen for a good while
- Turtles help to disperse seeds across the sea and provide nutrients for beaches where hatchlings are born
- Tortoises can extract water and nutrients from the tiniest morsels; their gut then extracts water from their waste, allowing them to hang onto water when it’s scarce
Sadly, in the wild, it is said that every year over 1000 turtles die from getting entangled in plastic pollution in the ocean. You can support wild turtles by contributing to charities that help to save the oceans and boost our turtle population after years of devastating decline.
We hope you enjoy World Turtle Day as much as we do at Apex Vets, so you too can help raise awareness about how precious these animals really are.
Calum’s takeaway message is that if you are considering getting a pet turtle or tortoise, doing thorough research into their needs beforehand is very important and will help you to have many special years together.