Pets bring great joy to their owners. For people who are allergic to dander and feathers and can't have a cat, dog, bird, hamster or the like, turtles are an interesting option. Aquatic turtles require a lot of maintenance keeping their water clean. Turtles that live on land, such as the European marginated tortoise, are much easier to care for, and they have a friendly disposition. Expect to pay around £81, though, for a marginated tortoise hatchling.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- 40 gallon aquarium tank
- 100 watt light bulb
- Ultraviolet bulb
- Various fruits and vegetables
- "Hide house" structure in the cage
Cage your tortoise in a dry aquarium tank rated at 40 gallons or more. Marginated tortoises grow to 10 to 12 inches long, and require adequate room to move. One or two tortoises can reside in a 40 gallon tank.
Line the bottom of the cage with sphagnum, peat moss or alfalfa pellets. Pile it thicker at one end of the cage, as marginated tortoises love to dig.
Place a 100-watt light bulb at one end of the cage as a heat source for basking, along with an ultraviolet light to maintain good health. Your cage should have a shelter structure so your tortoise can hide when it wants or get out of the light and heat. Place the hiding structure in the cage at the opposite end from the heat source.
Bathe your tortoise once a week in warm water. This will clean it and give it a chance to take a long drink of water. Marginated tortoises get most of their water from the food they eat, so it isn't necessary to place a water bowl in their cage as long as you also provide weekly bathing and drinking time. If you do use a water bowl, keep the water level shallow so in the event your tortoise lands on its back, it won't drown.
Feed your tortoise a variety of leafy vegetables: kale, romaine lettuce, red and green lettuce (but not iceberg lettuce), parsley and cabbage. Include fruits and other vegetables such as strawberries, carrots, bananas, cucumbers, squash, berries and melons. In nature, marginated tortoises dine on broad leaf plants. You can also feed your pet alfalfa and Bermuda grass, weeds, dandelions and timothy hay.
Tips and warnings
- If your marginated tortoise habitat will be outdoors, be sure it has a sheltered area to get out of the sun.
- Marginated tortoises love to dig. If your cage is outside, be aware that the tortoise can dig under fences, and design your cage accordingly.
- While iceberg lettuce isn't bad for your tortoise, it has little to no nutritional value. The tortoises enjoy this type of lettuce and if it's provided, will generally opt to eat it instead of its other more nutritional snacks.
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