cooter turtle care sheet

Cooter Turtle Care Sheet

Cooter turtles a.k.a Pseudemys sp. (River Cooters, Red Belly Cooter, Peninsula Cooter)

cooter turtle care

Cooter Turtles in the Pet Trade

Cooters are a large family of aquatic turtles that have become a staple in the pet trade, from red bellies to river cooters, there are many localities and color variations that are readily available at very affordable prices. However, despite their popularity and up front affordability, they do not make the best pet turtle for most people. With an average size of 10 to 20 inches in shell length (males staying smaller), all Cooters are medium-large sized animals that will need more than a standard aquarium to properly house them.

turtle care sheet

Cooter Care Sheet

Cooters are omnivores, eating a variety of foods such as pellets, fish, shrimp, and switch to a predominantly herbivorous diet as they age. Turtles can be offered food everyday, or at least three times a week. For 1 to 3 babies, a 10-20 gallon aquarium works for the first year with a water level about the height of your index finger. It is recommended to upgrade tank size to 10 gallons per turtle. A single adult turtle would require at least a 100 gallon aquarium, but can also be housed in a kiddie pool or stock tank. Internal or canister filters can be used to properly filtrate water with bi-weekly water changes. It is also recommended to run a filter rated above the gallons of the tank as turtles are known to make quite a mess. Some species of cooter are more cold tolerant than others, and if your climate allows it, housing cooters outdoors proves to be much more practical given proper enclosure and safety parameters are met. Turtles require a basking area where they can completely dry out and bask under heat and UVB (keep basking temperatures at around 90-95). Turtles are not picky, so anything from bricks, wood, or a turtle dock works for them. Water temperature can remain at ambient room temperature, about 76-80 degrees. All lights should be kept on a day/night cycle. Sand or gravel can be used as substrate, as long as the pieces are larger than the turtles’ heads.

caring for turtles

Turtles For Sale

Cooters are readily available captive bred, as they have been an icon of the pet world for decades. But just because they’re popular and cheap doesn’t always mean they are ideal for everyone. These are large turtles that can grow fast and it is important to understand the responsibility of keeping such an animal. Turtles are one of the most neglected and surrendered pets because of this, and have become invasive species in many parts of the world. Understand what these turtles can become, and plan accordingly to keep the animal long term. Under no circumstance should pets be released into the wild, as the species may not be native to the local area, and may cause harm to the ecosystem.



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