How to Care for Baby Painted Turtles

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Painted turtles are resilient and can become quite tame, which makes baby painted turtles appropriate pets. Baby turtles need special care, however. A well-designed habitat and nutritious foods are key to raising a healthy turtle. Follow the steps below to care for your baby painted turtle properly, so it will thrive for many years.

Things You'll Need

  • 20-gallon aquarium
  • Water filter and pump
  • 250-watt submersible heater
  • Airstone
  • Sand or gravel substrate
  • Live aquatic plants
  • Water conditioners
  • Small, 100-watt light bulb
  • Commercial turtle food

Set up your baby painted turtle’s habitat. Begin with a 20-gallon aquarium. Line the bottom of the aquarium with the sand or gravel substrate. Place the submersible heater on the bottom of the enclosure and arrange the filter, pump and airstone.

Add a few inches of water with a chlorine remover and other water conditioners. Add some live aquatic plants and a rock that sits above the waterline as a basking spot. Position the 100-watt bulb so that it shines on the basking spot.

Add your baby painted turtle after the submersible heater has raised the water temperature to between 78 and 82 degrees.

Feed your baby painted turtle fish, worms, crickets and floating turtle food. As your painted turtle grows into adulthood, it will become more herbivorous, eating water lettuce, water hyacinth, duckweed, romaine lettuce, kale and other greens. You can also feed your baby painted turtle commercial turtle food and aquatic plants placed in its enclosure.

Keep your turtle’s water and aquarium clean, and be sure to provide the turtle with healthy and varied foods to avoid nutritional problems and shell defects. If you notice shell and skin infections in your turtle, this is a sign that its water is stagnant and dirty. Poor water quality can also cause ear abscesses.

Tips & Warnings

  • Purchase a tank big enough for your baby painted turtle when it reaches adulthood. Beware that your baby painted turtle will grow to 10 to 11 inches within five or six years.
  • Don't limit your turtle's diet to only commercial turtle pellets. This can cause obesity, kidney stones, fatty liver and other fatal medical conditions.

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