Not everyone is aware that the land tortoise, so familiar and common as a pet, is listed in the Red Book. It is very responsible to be the owner of such a rare Central Asian reptile in nature. You need to know a lot about care and proper maintenance, nutrition and other things. Mistakes of many owners of turtles end very sadly for the latter.
Types of land turtles
In general, when talking about land turtles, one must keep in mind not only the most common Central Asians in our homes. In nature, there are 37 species representatives of this family. Most of them are Africans. The most familiar land turtles for us, common species that have taken root as pets are as follows:
- Mediterranean turtle. Small (up to 28 cm), with a strong convex shell, the shields of which form a complex pattern with irregular rings, dark on the outer edge. Prefers plant foods, in nature occasionally feeds on earthworms and snails. At a young age, such turtles practically do not survive at home, so you need to take already formed adults.
- Coal (red-footed) turtle. The maximum size in length is 55 cm. When keeping her at home, a shallow terrarium with sand and a shallow bath for water procedures is required. The turtle of this species is omnivorous – it eats fruits, vegetables, chicken or beef meat. Special conditions – high air temperature (not lower than + 27 ° C) and high humidity.
- Land leopard tortoise. Grows up to 60 cm in length. Its shell is light brown, with small dark spots. When kept at home, you need to feed exclusively with lawn grass, in no case should you give juicy fruits and vegetables. The terrarium should be equipped with an artificial reservoir and a lamp for heating.
- Radiant turtle. One of the most beautiful turtles. Large (up to 40 cm), with a high domed shell, the shields of which are black or dark brown with a yellow spot resembling a star with divergent rays. These turtles feed on plant food – sprouts and green parts of plants.
- Central Asian tortoise. It is well known to all of us, with a low, rounded shell of a yellowish-brown color with dark spots. These turtles grow up to 20 cm in length (males are smaller than females). In nature, they hibernate twice a year, but at home, this phenomenon is best avoided by providing them with sufficient food and warming the air for them to + 25-28 ° С.
How to keep a land tortoise?
A land tortoise at home requires a responsible attitude to the conditions of detention. Many mistakenly release it “on free bread” throughout the apartment. This is fundamentally wrong and unacceptable. First, you can step on it and cause injury. Secondly, the turtle will definitely climb into a dark corner, inhale the dust there, which will harm its lungs. Thirdly, if you do not find her hiding place, she will sit there hungry. Fourthly, drafts often “walk” on the floor, and turtles need a special warm and humid climate. Therefore, she needs her own home – a terrarium.
Terrarium for tortoise
Regardless of the species, terrariums for tortoises must be spacious so that the animal moves calmly, they must have a substrate of sand, gravel, straw, pressed sawdust 5-7 cm thick. Since turtles in their natural environment live in hot areas, the temperature air in the terrarium should not fall below +25°C. A shallow pan with water is desirable in the terrarium, so that sometimes the land tortoise can carry out water procedures.
House for land tortoise
Since turtles sleep most of the day and prefer dark and secluded places for this, you need to build something like a house for them. It can be an upside-down flower pot with a slot, a wooden box placed upside down, or even thick cardboard folded as a shelter. It is better to give preference to materials that can be washed, since the maintenance of a land tortoise includes constant monitoring of the cleanliness of its habitat.
Above the terrarium, a lamp for lighting and heating with a power of no more than 60 watts should be lit, as well as a fluorescent lamp to obtain the necessary ultraviolet radiation. Once every six months, the UV lamp must be replaced with a new one. Keeping tortoises without lamps can result in health problems for the pet. Ultraviolet is necessary for the absorption of calcium and a strong shell, and an ordinary lamp is necessary for heating the air to the desired temperature.
Land tortoise care
Any land tortoise needs proper care, which includes maintaining the cleanliness of its home, itself, ensuring the right lifestyle. So, how to care for a land tortoise:
- regularly and variedly feed in accordance with one or another habitual diet;
- bathe in warm water every week – this gives land turtles great pleasure, in addition, it helps to increase appetite and good bowel function;
- take care of the claws – in captivity they do not have time to grind down as they grow, therefore they need to be cut off periodically with a special nail cutter;
- take out for walks in the fresh air – on warm and sunny days it is very useful to give the turtle the opportunity to walk in the open air, you just need to keep an eye on it, because it can disappear from sight in the depths of grasses in a very short time.
What to feed a land tortoise?
A natural question for beginner tortoise lovers is what to feed a land tortoise at home? Their main diet is plant foods – berries, fruits, vegetables, grass. It is best to feed them with a mixture of different ingredients – so their diet will be varied and balanced. You can put food on a flat saucer, the main thing is that it is convenient for the turtle to eat from it. Vegetable and fruit menu in the summer can and should be diversified with clover, dandelions, sorrel, sprouted oats, pea leaves.
Vitamins for tortoises
Vitamin and mineral supplements are desirable in the diet of home-grown tortoises. As mineral additives, carbonate, bone meal, ground eggshell, glycerophosphate can act. They should be given at the rate of 100 mg per 1 kg of animal weight. As for vitamins, the Central Asian domestic tortoise needs natural sources of vitamins A, B12 and D3. Do not give her oil preparations and vitamin D2. She must get everything she needs from food.
How to determine the sex of a land tortoise?
You can accurately determine the sex of a turtle when it is 1.5-2 years old, that is, sexual maturity has come. Here are a number of distinctive signs by which you can judge the gender of a reptile:
- claws. In males, they are thicker and sharper. This is necessary to fix their body during mating. Females have shorter and blunter claws.
- Shell. In males, the lower part – the plastron – has a concave shape, in addition, they have spurs (skin growths) on their thighs. All this is due to the need to stay on the female during mating. The shape of the shell itself is also somewhat different: in females it is rounded, in males it is oblong.
- Tail. The reproductive organ of turtles is located in the tail. In the male, it is larger, wider at the base, while in the female, the tail is short and thin.
- Animal size. The land tortoise at home is determined by sex and due to its size. Nature made the female larger because she needs to bear offspring. When several individuals of approximately the same age live in an aquarium at the same time, such a difference is obvious.
- Eye color. Females have yellow eyes, males have brown eyes.
Diseases of land turtles
A land tortoise at home may encounter such common diseases:
- Rickets. Due to the lack of vitamin D3 and ultraviolet light, turtles often begin to soften first, and then deform the shell. At an early stage, you need to review her diet and buy a UV lamp for the terrarium. Progressive rickets require injections of veterinary calcium, and still the curvature of the carapace remains irreversible.
- Tearfulness, sticking, swelling of the eyes – a sign of vitamin A deficiency. If you observe such a condition, wash locally with a solution of chamomile, drip drops of Albucid or Sofradex. In addition, injections of multivitamin preparations are needed.
- Parasite infestation. Worms are expelled with the veterinary drug Albendazole.
- Colds, pneumonia. Manifested by a runny nose and shortness of breath. The mucous membranes become pale, with a white coating, foam, saliva becomes viscous. These diseases are treated with antibiotics.