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I have a brand new baby painted turtle. I have yet to put her…

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I have a brand new...
I have a brand new baby painted turtle. I have yet to put her in a big tank, as he/she is still in the portable one. She stays in the water and won't climb up onto her rock. So far in the ast 2 days, the turtle has only eaten a couple small pieces of starkist tuna and maybe 2 or 3 dead/dried baby shrimp. I haven't put any lihts on the turtle, as I am confused by all the MVB UVB and UVA lighting stuff. I did buy a clamp light can I put an MVB in there and will that be too hot for the baby turtle? Also, how much water can I put in the turtles tank? I have heard you put about 4 inches....but my baby turtle is only about an inch and a half shell length. I did buy the turtle a turtle dock to bask on...just waiting to transfer the turtle into a tank, until I get all the specifics figured out. Also, why would I put a filter in, if the filter won't reach the water because I have to keep the water level low because the turtle is so small? Also, during the summer....can't I keep the turtle outside in a clear rubbermaid tote with water in it and the turtle dock, so I don't have to run a lamp in the house all the time? I'm in IL, so it gets up to 100+ degrees here on some days....will that be too hot for the turtle?
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Reptile
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Answered in 1 hour by:
6/24/2010
Reptile Expert: Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist replied 8 years ago
Anna
Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11,949
Experience: Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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Hello,

I'm sorry to see that no one has responded to your question earlier. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online and saw your question. I'm going to give you a summary of basic turtle care. After you read it, if you still have questions, just click on REPLY, and I'll answer them for you.

It's recommended that a baby slider have at least a 15 gallon tank. By the time the turtle is 3-4 years old, it will need a 60 gallon tank, so it's best to get the biggest you can in the beginning. You can also use a large RubberMaid tote. That's not as pretty as a tank, but costs a lot less. Set up the tank so there's a land area and a water area. You want the water to be about twice as deep as the turtle is long. Since the turtle is 1 1/2 inches long, you'll want 3 inches of water.

In order to have healthy skin and shells, turtles need certain types of lighting and need to be warm. Air and water that are not warm enough can lead to fungal and respiratory infections. Turtles must have a basking area where they can get out of the water, dry off, and bask in very warm light. The ambient air temperature in the tank should be around 75 (24*C) degrees, with the basking area warmer still. Over the basking area there should be some sort of lamp that will take a 40-60 watt incandescent bulb (or you can buy a ceramic light fixture made just for reptiles). If you live in an area that has farm stores, you can buy a metal light fixture made to keep baby chicks warm for just a few dollars. Don't buy the accompanying bulb, however. You need an ordinary incandescent bulb in the basking light. Hardware stores sell similar fixtures as work lights. The basking area should be kept at 85-90 degrees (29 to 32*C). Use a thermometer to be sure. You can adjust the temperature by raising or lowering the light fixture. If your tank is small, set up the basking area at one end - you don't want the entire tank to become too warm. You'll also need a submersible aquarium heater that will keep the water 78-82 degrees (26 to 28*C).

It's extremely important that you buy an additional light that produces UVB rays. A Reptisun 10 is a good brand that does. If you choose another brand be absolutely certain it provides UVB rays. Don't take the word of pet store personnel, but read it for yourself. Full-spectrum, DayGlo, SunGlo, daylight,UV, or UVA are not the same thing. I'm putting a lot of emphasis on this because it's crucial to your turtle's health. Without this light, Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) will develop because your turtles won't be able to produce vitamin D. Vitamin supplements are not a good replacement for the proper lighting. MBD causes a very slow and painful death.UVB bulbs must be replaced every six months as they lose their effectiveness after that, even though they may still look fine. Light that comes through a window isn't sufficient because the glass filters out most of the rays turtles need to stay healthy.

If you want to use only one light, A mercury vapor bulb will produce both heat and UVB rays. However, the MVB is a very powerful light, and it's easy to overheat, so an accurate thermometer is important.

Turtles are very sensitive to water quality. Even if you change the water every day, it can still contain harmful chemicals. A good filtration system is essential. Water changes are also needed even with a filter. You may not be able to sue a filter until the turtle grows a bit, but they do make some pretty small ones.

Feeding is an area where pet stores often give out bad information. Commercial food should make up only 1/4 of the diet. Animal products (meat, earthworms, canned cat food) should make up another 1/4. The remaining half should be plant foods (dark lettuce like romaine, bits of strawberry or melon, etc.)

Since you are a new turtle owner, you may want to look at these sites for additional information on care and feeding. I especially recommend that you check out the lists of appropriate foods.


http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/caresheet-eastern_painted.htm

http://www.turtlecare.net/food.htm

Being kept outside poses some serious risks, so you'll have to decide if you want to take them. Sunlight does provide all the light a turtle needs, but shade is also necessary. A small turtle like this can easily be overheated and die. you'd need to monitor the temperature and move the container if it got too warm. Predators are also a big threat. Left unattended, a lot of animals would love to eat a baby turtle. Crows, grackles, and blue jays are one danger. Raccoons come out at night, and will eat off legs, or even chew through the shell. Dogs often carry off turtles and cause damage with their teeth.

If you have further questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. There's no additional fee for such follow-up questions, and I'm happy to help. I hope you enjoy many years with your turtle.

Anna
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Can I use the MVB bulb with the clamp lamp that I already bought, or does it need a special fixture to put it in? Do you happen to know if MVB bulbs are harmful to children or dogs? Because that is a fact I need to consider as well. This turtle tank will be sitting on a wooden stand, so my kids won't be able to reach it, but I was just wondering if it puts off any harmful rays.....that I would need to be concerned about? Also, since this baby turtle has been kept in a plastic carrying container for a week (that I know of)....and it's just been flotaing in the water, not being very active....is there a concern there? The turtle dosn't come out of the water at all. I purchased some tutrtle food that consists of dead crickets, baby shrimp, worms, etc... The turtle may have eaten one or two of them, but doesn't seem to want to eat much. The turtle did also eat about 2 small pieces of the starkist tuna thats packed in water....is that bad for him/her?

 

Lastly, do you happen to know where I can get an inexpensive MVB bulb? Also, we keep our house in the 70-80 degree range......do I still need to buy a heater to heat his water? I have heard you can lay a heating pad made for people, under the aquarium and keep it on a low setting, if night time temp is a concern? Is this true?

Reptile Expert: Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist replied 8 years ago
In order to determine if the turtle is sick, some additional information will be useful.

Is the turtle actually just floating on the water - it's not swimming? Doe sit float lopsided, with one side deeper in the water than the other

Do you see any bubbles coming from its nose? Does it open its mouth repeatedly as if yawning?

Are its eyes closed most of the time?

I'll answer your other questions in a separate post, and we'll discuss the turtle's condition after I get this additional information. Thank you.

Anna
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Reptile Expert: Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist replied 8 years ago
Mercury Vapor bulbs don't come cheap. Around $30 is about the least expensive. However they do last longer than the plain UVB lights. Some MVBs can go into normal light fixtures, provided the fixture is rated for the appropriate number of watts. Look for one that doesn't need a separate ballast. Here is an online source for MVB s:

100watt MVB

The same company sells an assortment of lights. You can look at all of them on the following page. If you choose a different one, be sure that it specifically provides UVB rays. UV and UVA are not the same thing. You also want one with an output of 10.0. An output of 5.0 is not enough for a turtle. I recommend a Reptisun 10.0.

UVB lights

The lights don't put out any rays that will harm your dogs or children.

While tuna itself is a good food, it is usually salty, and salt is very bad for turtles. It would be all right to feed sometimes, but rinse it well first.

You may not need a water heater if house is kept at a uniform temperature near 80*F. If the temperature varies throughout the day and night between 70* and 80*, the shallow water will also vary. The turtle wouldn't be able to adjust to changing temperatures all the time and would eventually get sick. In that case, you would need the water heater. When the turtle is older and has deeper water, the temperature won't vary so much with the air temperature. Deeper water tends to hold its temperature better.

Some people do use human heating pads under the tank. However, almost all heating pads carry warnings that placing objects on them can result in a fire. They do make heating mats for reptiles that are designed to go under a tank or cage. That would be much safer.

When I receive your reply, we can discuss the turtle's health.

Anna
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
I only saw one bubble come from his nose. His eyes are almost always open and when I move his little carrier to different spots were he can see out (through all sides of the container) he swims like crazy (I'm guessing because he thinks he can get out somehow). When he is floating, the shell is no deeper in the water on one side over the other...it's pretty even. He just seems so lazy most of the time. No yawing that I have seen. Sometimes when he floats he keeps one leg tucked in...but usually they are all out. He's a super friendly and active little thing, when I take him out of the water and place him on a dry towel to get exercise. He acts like he isn't afraid of me at all. Sticks his head all the way out, climbs on my hands, etc... There has only been one time that I have seen a little bubble sitting on top of his nose. I keep his water fresh everyday and add the stuff to condition it. He doesn't seem to be eating a lot, though. I sat him outside today all day, because the temps were very nice, like around 80. I didn't put him in direct sunlight, but close to a sunny spot. He still hasn't been on his rock, though....just floating in the water. I did notice him swimming around, though, each time I checked on him. I was told not to give him too much water or he would drown...so there is only about 2 inches in there. His/her shell is a tad bigger than a quarter.
Reptile Expert: Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist replied 8 years ago
Thank you. The turtle may not be eating because its not warm enough. Once you have all the lighting in place in the bigger tank, and have adjusted temperatures, he may begin eating. Also make sure he's able to climb onto the basking dock/rock. He has probably been under a lot of stress recently, and he may be adjusting to all the changes.

It doesn't sound like the turtle has symptoms of a respiratory infection, which is what I was concerned about. Do keep a close eye out for the symptoms I listed above (bubbles, yawning, floating unevenly, eyes closed a lot). such signs are reason to visit a reptile vet. However, I do recommend that all new reptiles be examined by a vet shortly after purchase. Young turtles are subjected to a lot of stress during transport, and often have the beginnings of an infection before they are even brought home. If you'd like me to find you the nearest reptile vet, give me your zip code.

If you create all the right conditions for the turtle and he still doesn't eat well after a day or two, I would definitely consult a vet. You'll also want to notify the store or dealer who sold you the turtle that there is a problem, especially if there's a guarantee.

If you need anything else, or want to locate a vet, let me know.

Anna

(If you've found my answers helpful, please click once on the green ACCEPT button.Thank you)
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