Terrapins originate from the Southern and Central United States. They are at their most active during daylight hours and are omnivorous – meaning they eat both meat and vegetables. However, juvenile terrapins favour a more carnivorous diet and their diet tends to becomes more herbivorous as they develop into adult terrapins.
Terrapins reach sexual maturity in about 3 to 8 years and their lifespan ranges from 15 to 25 years and a full-grown terrpin will be about 1 foot long.
Terrapins require a semi-aquatic environment which provides access to both land and a basking area. A purpose built tank or ‘terranium’ makes for an ideal type of housing.
The volume of water in the terranium should allow suffficient room for swimming while also maintaining quality water conditions. The depth of the tank should only be about 1.5-2 times the length of the turtle’s straight carapace length (SCL) – meaning the length of the terrapin’s shell from front to back.
The terrapin tank should be cleaned each week and protective gloves should always be worn.
Water filtration is essential as terrapins produce a high level of waste. Sponges or any other filters need to be removed and cleaned every 4 to 7 days and should be replaced every 3 months.
A water heater is required to maintain a water temperature of 28-29 C.
A basking area with a basking light to heat the area to 29-32C (for juvenile terrapins) or 21-26C (for adult terrapins).
A reptile UVB light is required to ensure that the terrapin’s shell grows healthily and hardens correctly. The UV bulbs should be changed every 6 months and should be placed inside the terranium.
Juvenile terrapins should be fed a 60-70% animal matter diet which can be made up of turtle pellets, earthworms, meal-worms, crickets, small fish with the balance of the diet made up of vegetables and leafy greens.
It is advisable to provide vitamin A and calcium supplements, especially to juvenile terrapins, to ensure that their needs are met.
As mentioned above, adult turtles are more herbivorous and so they should be fed a diet consisting of 70% vegetable matter (chopped leafy greens such as kale, romaine/red leaf lettuce and shredded carrot) with the balance being made up of 30% turtle pellets.
Should you require any further information on looking after pet terrapins or freshwater turtles, please contact any of our team at Moycullen Vet Clinic and we will be happy to provide you with advice.