Painted Turtles can make great turtle pets for the novice owner. These beautiful reptiles earned their name from the red and yellow stripes that decorate their bodies, giving the impression that these attractive patterns have been painted on by hand.
Painted Turtles usually live in ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers, which have squashy, muddy bottoms. Painted Turtles are mostly active between the months of May and October, when the temperature becomes warm enough for mating. When the winter season comes, painted turtles will hide themselves deep in the mud at the bottom of a body of water. The mud serves as an insulator during hibernation, helping the painted turtle regulate its temperature and conserve energy, ensuring that it will not freeze to death during the harsh winter period.
Even though painted turtles prefer to spend most of their time in water, these turtles can be frequently seen on rocks or floating logs, basking and enjoying the sun. Some turtles bask by sticking their noses up, breaking the surface of the water while they are afloat.
There is actually a biological reason for this behavior of painted turtles. Painted Turtles do not have the capacity to control their body temperature or generate heat on their own. They are dependent on the sun to help them attain sufficient body heat so that they are able to digest food efficiently. Painted turtles must normally spend two hours daily in the sun for this purpose.
Painted turtles enjoy a vast array of food, but are not able to ingest food unless their mouths are fully submerged in water. Their diet includes tadpoles, insects, small fish, crustaceans, worms, and aquatic vegetation. Turtle pets can also be fed with pre-manufactured turtle food and supplements, although it is always better to prepare a diet that consists of larger, natural food.
Painted Turtle hatchlings need carnivorous meals, with such offerings as insects, worms, and small fish. Adults require the addition of plant material to their diets. Adult painted turtles also require less food than their younger counterparts, eating only a few times a week instead of every day.
When considering housing for your turtle pets, a breeder tank is advised, especially for the hatchlings. However, should you prefer to purchase an aquarium, make sure to calculate a tank size of at least 280 liters (approximately 74 gallons) per turtle. You should also provide an area in which your turtle pets can bask or dry off. You can allot an area for this by placing manufactured turtle ramps, which are sold in pet stores, into their tank, or by placing large, wide rocks in strategic locations.
Keep a close watch on your turtle pets, so that they do not become exposed to too much sunlight or artificial lighting. This is important because turtles can be killed within minutes if they become overheated.
You should establish and stick to a regular schedule in cleaning the housing of your turtle, as it has the tendency to become messy. Otherwise, algae and bacteria can grow in the housing, which may eventually lead to illness.
Adult Painted Turtles are usually prone to predators like snapping turtles and eagles, while the younger ones are preyed upon by rats, snapping turtles, and bullfrogs. Be sure that the area in which you place your turtle pets is free from these predators! This will ensure that your turtles remain healthy, and can enjoy their expected lifespan of 20-75 years!