What's a Tropical Turtle?

Learn about tropical turtles from veterinarian Alix Wilson in this Howcast video.


One of the more common species of tropical tortoises that we see here in the US in the pet trade would be the red-footed tortoise, and this is an example of one right here. These tortoises are native to South America. They prefer a very warm and humid environment. They're found in the Amazon River basin. So setting up one of these guys is going to be very different from setting up a tortoise from, or turtle from an area of dry climate. They prefer an enclosure with a humidity that's upwards of 80 percent, and that can be tricky to deal with, especially here in North America. It often requires frequent misting of the tank, they even have mechanical misters, sometimes putting large bowls of water in the tank help keep the humidity up. There's special source of substrates or bedding materials that you can use to maintain the humidity in the tank, including planting of live plants.

The diet of these guys is a little different too. They tend to eat a lot more fruit than the turtles coming from the drier climates, so again their diet is going to be leafy green vegetables and fruits as well as some of the commercial foods that are out there today. They still do require a basking area. That's an area where they can keep themselves up, keeping in mind, again, reptiles are ectotherms, they rely on the temperature of the environment to regulate their own body temperature, so it's very important that they have a warm basking area within their setup or their enclosure, and you want that temperature be upwards of 90 degrees, 90, 95. The temperature requirements for these turtles at night is, you still want to maintain that around, you know, 80, 85 degrees. The other thing that these tortoises need would be a source of ultraviolet light, and again if you're housing them indoors, this is going to be a special bulb generally called a UVB bulb. It comes in various forms. The other thing, of course, would be a good, clean water source. So those are some of the things to consider when you're purchasing and setting up enclosure for a tropical turtle.

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