Cuttlebones for Turtles

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Turtles enjoy biting cuttlebones.
Turtles enjoy biting cuttlebones. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Cuttlebones are popular cage accessories for birds, but pet owners are increasingly recognizing the benefits cuttlebones have for turtles as well. Turtles can use cuttlebones designed for birds, but reptile supplies companies and pet stores frequently stock cuttlebones marketed for turtles. Generally no difference exists between these bones and cuttlebones for birds aside from the photos on the box. Cuttlebones can improve turtle health in several ways.

Nutritional Benefits

Turtles need calcium to grow properly and maintain healthy shells. Calcium deficiency is among the most common health problems turtles experience. Novice turtle keepers may forget to put calcium on turtle food or the calcium may rinse off in aquarium water. Cuttlebones solve this problem. They contain lots of calcium and will not dissolve in aquarium water. Turtles tend to bite hard objects when their systems lack calcium. The cuttlebone helps turtles to self-regulate nutritional needs for calcium.

Oral Health

Turtle beaks, much like human nails, never stop growing. Turtles' beaks are trimmed naturally in the wild by long walks across rough terrain. In captivity, beak maintenance can prove challenging. Turtle owners can inadvertently injure their turtles during beak trimming sessions. An overgrown beak can cause serious health problems. Cuttlebones sand down a turtle's beak naturally, eliminating the need to trim it.

Brain Stimulation

Turtles, like any other animal, are capable of boredom and even depression if their environment is not stimulating enough. Cuttlebones can help keep your turtle's mind occupied and contribute to healthy brain development. Chewing a cuttlebone is stimulating and interesting to turtles. When cuttlebones are in water, turtles may have to dig to find them or catch them while they're floating. In addition to preventing boredom, this stimulating activity also helps to prevent aggression.

Cuttlebone Placement

Cuttlebones for birds typically come with a metal hook and are placed on the side of the bird cage. Turtle owners, however, often are unsure about where to put their turtle's cuttlebone. For water turtles, simply put the bone directly into the water. It will float anywhere from several hours to several days before becoming waterlogged and sinking. The bones won't contaminate the water. For land turtles, place the cuttlebone near the turtle's food bowl.

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References

  • "Turtles and Tortoises for Dummies"; Liz Palika; 2001
  • "Turtles"; Hartmut Wilke; 2010
  • "Aquatic Turtles"; David T. Kirkpatrick; 2006
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