A turtle is a great pet for a young child, new pet owner or an individual who travels often. By purchasing a turtle as a baby, you are responsible for ensuring that it grows into a healthy, strong, fully functioning adult turtle. The main determinant of your turtle's health and wellness will be its diet. Health problems can occur quickly if your baby turtle does not get the nutrients its small body needs. Be a good pet owner by feeding your baby turtle correctly from the beginning.
Baby turtles need a variety of plant matter to obtain the nutrients for a healthy shell, bones, digestive system and immune system. Collard greens, berries, cantaloupe, squash and romaine lettuce are great food options for your baby turtle's plant-matter needs. Do not feed your baby turtle iceberg lettuce, as it has virtually no nutritional value. Dark-colored lettuce (such as romaine) and richly colored fruits and vegetables are best. Also, harder-to-chew plant matter, such as carrots or apples, may be difficult for your baby turtle to consume. Softer plant-matter items, such as those listed above, will encourage it to eat.
Just like a growing person, baby turtles need protein. While the amount your turtle needs depends on its species, every type of baby turtle requires an intake of protein. Snails, earthworms, slugs and bugs are perfect protein sources. Though a bug or slug may seem small, they pack quite a protein punch.
Supplemental protein options are also available for your baby turtle. Products such as Wardley's Reptile T.E.N., Turtle Brittle and Tetra's ReptoMin will provide your baby turtle with the protein and some of the plant nutrients it needs. Prepackaged food options, however, are not as exciting for a baby turtle to consume. If your baby turtle seems to have lost its appetite, try feeding it the live and varied food options mentioned in both the Plant Matter and Protein section.
Calcium deficiency is one of the major health concerns of a baby turtle. Prevent or correct your baby turtle's calcium deficiency by purchasing a cuttlebone, available at your local supermarket. Remove the outside, brittle rind of the cuttlebone. Place a piece of the cuttlebone in your baby turtle's aquatic area. The baby turtle's ingestion of the cuttlebone will help provide it with the calcium it needs to grow and develop strong bones and a strong shell.
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