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Can Turtles Live in Cold Water as Backyard Pets?

Can Turtles Live in Cold Water as Backyard Pets?

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Pet turtles have the potential to be a lot of fun. Many kids think that turtles are really cool because of how cute they are.

You might even want to keep a pet turtle as an adult just because you find them to be interesting companions. When you’re caring for a turtle, it’s going to be important to do your best to keep it safe.

Many people have concerns about what type of water turtles should be kept in. For example, you might be worried about turtles and whether they will be okay in cold water or not.

Can turtles live in cold water? Or will the cold water wind up killing the turtles?

Continue reading to learn more about turtles and whether they do well in cold water or not. You’ll also get important advice about caring for turtles whether you’re keeping them indoors or outdoors.

Turtles Can Survive in Cold Water

If you’re concerned about turtles and cold water, then you’ll be happy to know that turtles can survive in cold water. In fact, some species of turtles are able to survive in freezing water.

This doesn’t mean that you should keep your pet turtle in cold water, though. It’s going to be best to keep the turtles in the recommended temperature environments based on the species that you’re caring for.

Turtles are cold-blooded animals just like all other reptiles. They can’t control their body temperature as some other animals can.

This means that turtles can get sick if they’re exposed to temperatures that they aren’t meant to be in. For that reason, it’s not wise to keep turtles in water that is too cold.

Ideally, you’ll want the water to be close to room temperature to keep the turtles safe. This means that you should try to give the turtles water that is between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

When turtles are exposed to very cold water, they might go into a state of shock. Often, turtles will enter a shocked state that causes them to have a lower metabolism.

Their heart rates will slow and they’ll also have lower blood circulation. Turtles that stay in this state could eventually wind up dying.

As mentioned earlier, some turtles are capable of surviving in freezing water. How well a turtle will be able to handle cold temperatures depends on the species.

This means that you’d need to look up specific information about the type of turtle that you’re caring for. However, it isn’t generally going to be necessary to worry about this too much.

Just understand that you don’t have a reason to expose a pet turtle to very cold water. There’s no reason not to keep the water warm enough that the turtle will be able to handle it.

A turtle can survive in cold water, but it isn’t going to thrive when it has prolonged exposure to cold water. Remember this and do what you can to keep the water in the right temperature range.

How to Care for a Pet Turtle

Caring for a pet turtle isn’t necessarily difficult, but you do need to approach things the right way. Otherwise, you could wind up doing harm to your new animal friend by making mistakes.

The first thing to know is that you should pay attention to the type of turtle that you’re buying. You can basically categorize turtles in two ways that will make it easier for you to determine how to approach caring for them.

There are terrestrial turtles and there are aquatic turtles. The needs of these two types of turtles will be a bit different.

Aquatic turtles are typically found in swamps, lakes, and ponds. Terrestrial turtles are land-dwelling turtles that are more likely to be found in mossy sections of forested areas.

A terrestrial turtle would thrive in an outdoor environment inside of a pen that has high walls. Aquatic turtles need to live in some type of tank that gives them access to clean water as well as dry land.

You can raise aquatic turtles outdoors so long as you live in the right environment. Turtles need the temperatures to stay within certain ranges for them to do well.

If you live in an area that’s too hot or too cold, then you might have to keep a turtle inside regardless of what type of species you’re caring for. Otherwise, you’d need to come up with some sort of solution to keep the turtle warm enough or cool enough.

Below, you’ll find some basic tips that will help you to care for your pet turtle. You’ll learn a bit about outdoor turtle care, but you’ll also learn about how to keep turtles indoors.

Setting up an Outdoor Turtle Enclosure

Setting up an outdoor turtle enclosure will be good if you’re caring for a terrestrial turtle. It’ll be easier to do this if you live in a fairly warm area.

If the temperatures in your area generally stay between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, then this will work out nicely. Otherwise, you might wish to keep your turtle in a temperature-controlled indoor environment.

Regardless, it’ll be helpful to learn a bit about how to set up a turtle pen outside. You’ll want to make a pen in your yard that has high walls so that predators won’t be able to get to your turtle.

Some people also add wire mesh roofs to the pen to prevent predators from coming in from the top. It’s up to you to decide whether this is necessary or not.

Terrestrial turtles love digging, and that means that having loose soil for the turtles to play in will be a good idea. They’ll also appreciate shredded newspaper clippings or carpet scraps.

These turtles will also need to have enough moisture to stay healthy. This is why it’s imperative to have moist soil in the pen, and it might also be a good idea to put some rotting dry leaves into the pen.

When creating the pen, it’ll be better to use wood to build a fence. Try to create walls that have a smooth and flat surface so that they can’t be climbed easily.

Also, it’s best to avoid building some type of glass enclosure. This could be dangerous for the turtle because the glass could heat up and wind up making things very uncomfortable.

Caring for a Pet Turtle Indoors

Caring for a pet turtle indoors is going to be a bit different than the pen method mentioned above. If you have a terrestrial turtle, then you’ll still want to utilize some of the advice above when creating an indoor turtle habitat.

Caring for an aquatic turtle indoors is going to be a bit more common. Keep reading to get specific advice for setting up a turtle habitat indoors.

Much of this advice is centered around caring for aquatic turtles. Much of this information will also apply to terrestrial turtles, but it’s still good to look up specific requirements for the species that you’re caring for.

Setting up a Tank

Setting up a tank is one of the most important things to do. You’re going to want to use a tank that is at least 40 gallons.

This is because the turtle needs an environment where it will be able to grow to its full adult size. You’re also going to need to include things that the turtle will need in the tank.

For example, it’s necessary to have a heat lamp so that your pet turtle will be able to bask. Your tank should be split up so that there is a wet area where the turtle can swim as well as a dry land area.

During this time, you’ll need to learn a bit about the type of turtle that you bought. You’ll want to tailor how you set up the tank to the type of turtle that you’ve decided to buy as a pet.

Temperature Control

Temperature control is an important facet of caring for pet turtles indoors. It’s also important when you’re caring for turtles outdoors when you don’t happen to live in an area that stays within the right temperature range.

Since turtles are cold-blooded animals, they aren’t going to do as well if they’re exposed to very cold or very hot temperatures. They can’t regulate their body temperatures, and this means that you need to have some type of temperature control in place for the health of your pet turtles.

On average, you’re going to need to keep the temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit for the turtles to be okay. It might be better to find a more specific temperature suggestion based on the breed of the turtle that you’re caring for, though.

A turtle might be okay if the temperature dips a bit at night, but if things get too cold it’ll be bad. Too much cool weather could cause your pet turtle to enter a hibernation state.

Cold weather could also make a turtle sick very easily. This is why temperature control matters so much.

You’ll have a better time if you heat the water for aquatic turtles to keep it warm enough. Basking lights can be used to heat the air to keep your turtle warm enough.

Remember to Clean the Tank and Change the Water Regularly

It’s going to be important to clean the tank and change the water regularly. Failure to do so would make it tough for your turtles to stay healthy.

Your turtles require both fresh food and fresh water on a daily basis. The water is going to get dirty eventually, and it’ll start to smell quite foul if you don’t change it out.

Filtration is going to be an important part of keeping the tank safe for your turtles. It’ll help to keep the water clean for longer periods of time.

Even when you have filtration systems in place, it’s going to be necessary to clean. Try to set up a regular cleaning schedule so that you can keep things nice for your turtles.

Avoid Playing with the Turtles

This next bit of information might catch you off-guard or make you sad. However, it’s best to do what’s right for the safety of the turtles.

You want to avoid playing with the turtles because this is going to stress them out. Turtles get stressed rather easily when they’re being handled by humans, and they’re better off being treated as pets that you’re supposed to observe.

It might be tough for kids to accept that they aren’t meant to play with their pet turtles. Just ensure that they understand that this is for the health and safety of the turtles.

You should know that turtles can get injured when they’re handled improperly, too. For instance, a turtle that gets dropped could break a bone or have some other type of medical issue.

It’s also true that turtles can expose humans to salmonella. This means that it’s imperative to wash your hands after handling a turtle.

There will likely be times when you will need to handle your pet turtle. Just try to keep this to a minimum and always remember to wash your hands thoroughly after you’ve finished doing what you need to do.

Final Thoughts

Turtles can survive in cold water, but it has the potential to make them sick. If turtles get too cold, they might wind up going into shock.

Some types of turtles are better at surviving in cold water than others. There are even turtles that are known to be able to survive in freezing water.

Your pet turtles should not be exposed to cold water, though. They’re going to need you to keep the water in the right temperature range so that they can be okay.

You can do this by using some type of heater and keeping an eye on the temperature levels with a thermometer. It’s also important to understand that the overall temperature of the environment plays a role in turtle health.

When temperatures start to get too chilly, turtles might start to enter a hibernation state. If you’re going to care for turtles, it’d likely be a good idea to learn about hibernation requirements for the species that you’re caring for.

Otherwise, it’s best to just set up a tank or turtle pen properly to keep your turtle safe. So long as you do your best to care for your pet turtle, it’s likely going to be able to live a very happy life.


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