If you are thinking of getting a water turtle there are a few things you need to know first, like the fact that there are different types from all over the world, and that not all types can be adopted because their importation is illegal. Can you distinguish the various types? Here are their main characteristics.
Aquatic turtles spend part of their day in water and part of it resting on land. If they live in an aquarium, land usually means a decorative rock. They don’t like water that moves around a lot and far prefer quiet ponds. There are many species of this particular reptile, here are the main ones.
1) YELLOW-BELLIED SLIDER. More scientifically known as Scripta Scripta, this turtle comes from the United States and Mexico. It is distinguished by the yellow stripes on either side of its head, neck and the ventral side of the carapace, or upper shell. Their oval shell is green and gets darker with age. This type of turtle is a great swimmer and has a voracious appetite. It is known to eat anything that crosses its path in the water, as long as it’s smaller! The species adapts well to domestic life and is therefore especially suited as a pet. It can grow to up to 30 cm in length!
2) RED-EARED SLIDERS. Just like its cousin, they are easily recognized by the red markings on either side of the head. It has been a protected species for several years now, and their sale is prohibited, so please make sure you don’t bring one home with you as you could run some serious risks. How can you recognize them? By the red stripes and dark green body with smudges of yellow. Fun Fact: the female of the species is larger than the male.
3) MAP TURTLE. A common species, they are called ‘map turtle’ because of the well-defined markings on their plastron. The shell is brown-yellow with a dark central fairing. They can measure from 13 to 20 cm long and are particularly suited to living indoors, but they are shy and timid, happiest in a very quiet environment.
4) SPOTTED TURTLE. These are very unusual creatures and stand out from the crowd. They are small, with a maximum length of 12.5 cm, and have an elegant, smooth shell with lovely colouring: the dark blue/black background features a random smattering of bright yellow dots and the tail is red-black. The dark head is also graced with some yellow spotting.
5) RAZOR-BACKED MUSK TURTLE. This species sports a domed shell graced with colours that go from brown to grey, although when young they are very light with lots of tiny black dots. Fun fact: if they feel threatened, they emit a noxious odour to keep predators at bay! They need spacious aquariums with lots of water to feel right at home. Ferplast’s Jamaica line of turtle aquariums are ideal for them: large and hardy, they have a rounded glass front and are easy to clean.
Which one do you like the best? Remember to get your turtles from a certified breeder so that the illegal trade in these delicate creatures can be stopped.