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Terrapin owner in the UK New and in desperate need on help!

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#1 terryterra


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Posted 23 June 2012 - 03:58 PM

It has always been my dream to keep terrapins since I was young. I remember being 11 years old and going to blackpool tower and they had 4 huge turtles and I was mesmerised, ever since I have wanted terrapins and I am 23 now.

So today I went to the pet store were my partner bought her Hamster, she was looking for a new toy for the hamster and whilst browsing I spotted a small tank with two tiny terrapins in and fell in love. I started talking to the owner about how I'd always wanted some but thought they would be too expensive and too time consuming. He told me they were quite the opposite, he said they practically looked after themselves. I said I would do some research and perhaps come back for them. He said he would explain everything about them and I didn't need to research them and as I believe pet shop owners aren't famed for being hustlers I could trust him however since I got home I feel maybe this isn't the case. So after lengthy discussion I brought home 2 Terrapins, from my research I think they are "Yellow Belly" Terrapins.

He kept them in a tiny tank and said that would be ok for a few years however I said I wanted something bigger because I thought they looked cramped so he sold me an ex display tank that is reasonably large. However from research I feel maybe in a few months I may need larger.

I was told they would not need any kind of filter or light, just a raise area out of the water. However from my research it seems that they do need filters and lights but after hours of searching I still can't find any definitive idea of what I need. The lights all seems to need different compartments and bulbs some say the water needs a separate heater some say it doesn't. If somebody could reply with links to suitable products on Amazon I would be very grateful.

Also food is another area I am worried about. He gave me a small tub of dried pellets and prawns and other fishy looking things and said to give them some of them in the morning and evening and that would be all and occasionally treat them to some cooked ham or raw beef? Again from hours of research it seems there is more to it than this but again there are literally 1000s of different recommendations for food.

Also some people seem to mention adding minerals to the water?

Please please help! I am new so really need a lot of help, I want to make a serious go of looking after these two beautiful animals I can't afford to pay out extensive amounts to look after them but at the same time want to give them the best care I can. So any advice and reccomended products ( links please) would be great thank you!

I'm really panicking that I've been completely miss informed about the care of these animals please help!

#2 turtlefanatic


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Posted 23 June 2012 - 09:08 PM

Welcome to Turtle Times! Pet store owners aren't reliable sources of information. Unfortunately, they often aren't very knowledgeable about the animals they sell, and their prime concern is selling as many of their products as possible.

Terrapins (or turtles, as we who live "across the pond" call them) do NOT "practically look after themselves." If they're to be healthy and happy, they have some specific requirements. You were wise to purchase the larger tank. Yellow bellied sliders are great swimmers and will appreciate the extra space. They do need an area where they can get completely out of the water to dry off and bask. You'll want a filter, unless you're planning on draining, cleaning, and refilling the tank every few days! Turtles require two types of lighting: a heat bulb to bask under, and a bulb that emits UVB rays which are crucial for a healthy shell and bones. You can use a low-wattage regular household bulb for heat and buy a separate UVB bulb; or there are types called mercury vapor bulbs that combine both things into one bulb. (They're more expensive, but also more convenient since you'll only need one lamp.) Whether you'll need a heater for the water will depend on the temperature in your home. Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with the types of equipment available in your country; but we do have some forum members from the UK. Hopefully some of them will see this topic and help to point you in the right direction.

Feeding is a more complicated issue. While GOOD QUALITY pellets can be part of a turtle's diet, they should not be the only thing offered. Protein and plant matter are important also. Ham is NOT good for turtles (too salty), and raw beef isn't much better (too fatty). Cooked chicken is OK. Paul, one of our members (from the UK!), wrote an excellent topic about what to feed sliders. Here's the link:

I'm sorry that I couldn't be more specific about the brands of equipment to purchase, but I hope someone else will offer some suggestions and that you'll be able to find everything you need. I realize how overwhelming all of this sounds, but it's obvious from your post that you're committed to providing the best possible care for your new friends. Good luck, and welcome to the world of terrapins!

#3 terryterra


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Posted 24 June 2012 - 01:30 AM

Turtle fanatic thank you so much for your reply! I really appreciate all the help!

If you don't mind and if you have time could you find the kind of filter and lamp/bulb n amazon that would be ok and provide a link? Sorry to ask this but I'm really worried about buying the wrong thing.Even if the link is to the store rather than I don't mind importing as long as its good quality (but hopefully not over expensive). I'm completely clueless.

I realise I should of done all this research before purchase and I feel so guilty that I haven't, I was up till 5am local time reading 100s of care sheets and forum comments but nowhere does anyone mention specific products or product types and online there is 1000ss of variety in sizes, bulb type, bulb heat act...

Thanks for the great article on food types I will save that and follow that diet.

#4 terryterra


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Posted 24 June 2012 - 07:26 AM

Turtle fanatic please see my post regarding the alterations, your feedback would be great


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