to Pet Health Network or

Answers from vets about your pet:

Reptiles: Part 2

Posted December 18, 2014 in Reptile Health & Care

Turtle at the vet

Dr. Laurie Hess goes in depth on some of the most common reptile pets. For more from Dr. Hess, find her on Facebook

Last week, I went over some common reptiles that make great pets. This week, I'd like to continue that discussion in Part two of my reptile blog. Below are two more great options for anyone looking to add a reptile to their family. 

1. Red eared slider turtle
These are hardy turtles that spend some time swimming and some time basking out of water on rocks and logs. They live in aquariums containing water at least 1.5-2 times as deep as their body length. Water should not reach too close to the tank top, or the turtle may escape. Sliders must be moved to bigger tanks as they grow. Water in the tank should be heated with submersible heaters to 75-85°F and should be kept clean with an automatic filter in addition to weekly changes of 25-50% of the total water. Sliders also need an out-of-water basking spot that is heated with an over-the-tank heat light to 85-90°F. In addition, like many other reptiles, sliders should be exposed to UV-B light to enable them to properly absorb calcium from their food. While sliders eat both vegetables and animal protein, younger sliders require more animal protein, while adults eat more vegetables. Young turtles should be fed daily, while adults can eat every other day. Several good commercial pelleted diets are available for sliders, in addition to dark leafy greens such as collard, mustard, and dandelion greens, plus carrots, squash, green beans and limited amounts of fruit such as apple, melon, and berries. Occasional live feeder fish and worms can be offered occasionally to stimulate sliders’ predatory instincts. Raw or frozen meat, as well as cat and dog chow, should be avoided. A balanced vitamin supplement also should be fed a couple of times a week. When fed and housed properly, pet sliders can live 50 or more years.

2. Greek  tortoise  
These gold to olive-colored tortoises tend to remain smaller (6-8” long) than other species of tortoise and therefore may be more manageable as pets. They are housed in glass aquariums or large plastic bins that must be increased in size as the animals grow. Shredded paper in which they can burrow and dig works well as bedding. Large flat rocks on which to climb, a

Share This Article

Laurie has more than 15 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a board-certified bird specialist and exotic animal veterinarian as well as a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.